A packed crowd at American Airlines Center got to relive part of their younger days with a night of retro dance music at 2054 – The Tour. The music bridged generations, though, as the full house also included many younger people (mostly ladies) who came to dance the night away.
The show actually started early, which caught the typical late-arriving Dallas crowd by surprise. Those who were in their seats for the downbeat hit the mother lode as Chic featuring Nile Rodgers opened the night. Rodgers immediately showed why he is in the Rock and Roll Hall of Fame, among many other awards, by greeting fans close to the stage in between hot guitar licks.
The band began their set with one of their many hits, “Everybody Dance,” while the musicians choreographed their movements in their white suits. Lead singers Kimberly Davis and Falami Anhoandra belted out the song while the horn section pumped up the crowd.
Their first single, “Dance, Dance, Dance (Yowsah, Yowsah, Yowsah),” got everyone in the audience on their feet as fans trickled in. They stayed in the 70s as Kimberly served up the soul in “I Want Your Love.” Nile showcased his guitar prowess with an energetic guitar face-off with bassist Jerry Barnes.
Rodgers talked about his day job as a writer and producer, which led to the next few songs he is associated with that hit No. 1. His range was shown with the 400 million albums in sales with different artists over the years, from Keith Urban and Duran Duran to Madonna and Lady Gaga.
The fans enthusiastically sang along and grooved to “I’m Coming Out” by Diana Ross. Falami continued with Ms. Ross’ “Upside Down” while Rodgers moved to the front of the T-shaped stage to play to the crowd. The three lovely ladies in front of me began their night of dancing to the music, making me wish I was younger, and better looking.
Sister Sledge was the next associated act covered with “He’s The Greatest Dancer.” The audience made up of 75% women sang and danced while Nile displayed the thumping-guitar style that has added to his fame. It segued directly into “We Are Family,” a hit that everyone knew by heart. It naturally earned a huge round of applause.
Rodgers spoke to the fans about being diagnosed with aggressive cancer six-and-a-half years ago, which led to the most productive artistic time of his life. He also happily announced that he is now completely cancer free.
One of the first songs he helped with after being diagnosed showed his diversity. He helped Daft Punk with “Get Lucky” and the band played it with choreography and a funky beat. Drummer Ralph Rollo laid down a driving beat and led the requisite repeat after me “Yeah, yeah, yeah” that pumped up the crowd just a little more. Rollo then transitioned into “Let’s Dance” by David Bowie. The audience loved the tribute to the late superstar, especially as Rodgers played the familiar guitar riff.
They finished their set with two Chic songs and when Nile asked the crowd if they were ready to freak out, they did. “Le Freak” is easy to sing and dance to and the now full venue jumped and screamed. The long-time band’s anthem is the party song “Good Times” and they brought members of the audience to dance with them on stage, including the three lovelies sitting in front of me. The fun on the stage ended in a whirling jam to end their part of the show.
After a quick set change, a video played showing the healing power of music. The band came out to complex choreographed moves, all clad in black leather. Philip Bailey then led the three remain original members of Earth, Wind & Fire onto the stage filled with many percussion instruments and began their set with the popular “Shining Star.” The entire audience was on their feet either dancing or filming the magic moment.
The band showed their cohesion during “Getaway” and the dance music of “Sing A Song.” They were well-rehearsed and got the crowd even more involved with “On Your Face.” Ever the lively showman, original bassist Verdine White supplied the energy and worked the audience into a frenzy for “Serpentine Fire.”
Bailey soloed on the kalimba (African thumb piano) prior to “Kalimba Story,” a funky song dedicated to the ladies. Original member Ralph Johnson led a percussion intro into “Can’t Hide Love” that turned into a sensual song that made the ladies swoon.
Clips of younger versions of themselves highlighted “Keep Your Head To The Sky” as the audience sang along. Several band members then led the crowd to get involved and clap to the beat of the R&B “Devotion.” Couples got cozy for the big hit “That’s The Way Of The World” with it’s throbbing guitar solo within the tight band’s jam.
Bailey introduced the band members and they took turns scat singing as band members played short solos. The saxophone signaled a love song was coming and the emotion of “After The Love Has Gone” preceded raucous cheering from the crowd.
Sax and horns combined with Bailey’s falsetto voice for “Reasons” and the audience danced like they did when the hit single came out years ago. The first distinctive notes of “September” started a frenzy as nobody could stand still during the classic hit song. Five band members were on percussion to create a unique beat that added so much to the excitement.
The Rock and Roll Hall of Fame band segued into “Boogie Wonderland” and they were having as much fun playing it as the fans were hearing it. Singers David Whitworth and Philip Bailey, Jr., spurred the crowd to let loose, not that they needed much urging. The originals came to the front for their final song, the dancing anthem “Let’s Groove.” Body parts were flailing in the audience, especially the three lovelies in front of me. They captured the essence who came to the show.
After a quick break, the band showed why they’ve sold over 100 million albums when they played “Fantasy,” a feel-good song that phenomenally began the encore. There was so much energy onstage that it exploded into the crowd. They finished with the boogie beat of “In The Stone” with every musician involved. Verdine still led the energy output and the finale jam sent fans home feeling younger and happier than when they came to the concert.
The six-time Grammy Award winning group has refined the art of putting on a stage show for its fans. The music speaks for itself as the best selling R&B band and their many awards over the years. Their combination of R&B, funk, soul, disco and rock has something for everyone as evidenced by the eclectic make-up of the crowd.
Earth, Wind & Fire and Chic featuring Nile Rodgers continues its 2054 – The Tour through the end of September. See them live if you want a night of carefree pleasure and want to dance the night away.
Joe Guzman of Infrared Magazine was on hand to record the event.