|Patrice Labarchède's account of CHIC's gig at the Nice Jazz
Festival July 26th 2003|
- MY NITE WITH CHIC
- 'Trice is an ardent CHIC fan,
France's greatest, by his own account, maybe Europe's greatest? Here is
his account of the day he got to see CHIC live for the first time, leading
to the ultimate goal, that of meeting Nile Rodgers. You might say the trials
and tribulations of a true fan. (pocat)
- We had a huge artist strike here. So most of the
French summer festivals in July were canceled. So, on July 25th, I called
the Nice Jazz Festival's organization to know if it was canceled. They
said it was still on. I asked them if CHIC were still coming, and the guy
told me, "Yes, and they just arrived to their hotel..."
- I tried "Which hotel ?.." He said "Their
- I didn't succeed on this, but when I want something,
I do my best and sometimes it works. I already knew that the festival's
production resided at the Plaza Hotel in Nice. So I sent a postcard to
"Nile Rodgers and CHIC" at the hotel, hoping that they'd forward
- On the postcard, I said that I was a HUGE CHIC fan,
and that I fell in love with the CHIC sound 25 years before, when I first
listened to "Le Freak", it was in 1978 and I was just 11 y.o.
I've been a fan ever since, and I buy everything I can find, if I find
CHIC, Nile or 'Nard in the credits. For instance, I said that I got the
Will Powers album, The Honeydrippers' one and the album of Mac Gollehon,
on which Nile plays. I added that I also got the Bowie-Jagger duet, "Dancing
In The Streets" on which Nile was the executive producer and the We
Are Family Foundation single.
- I also wrote that 'Nard's death has been terrible
for me, partly because he died on April 18th, which is also my birthday
and also because he was (is) my favorite musician ever, together
with Nile (because I love the bass guitar).
- I ended by saying that I've loved CHIC for 25 years,
but I've never seen them live on stage. So, it may take me 9 hours by train
to come, but this time, I'll be there !..
- So, even if the guy didn't tell me the name of their
hotel, I decided to call the Plaza Hotel for a room. The girl over the
phone said that the hotel might be full. By the time she was searching
if there was any room left, I said, "Well I'd love to be in your hotel,
cos' I know that CHIC is there too, and I love them!.." She said,
that she did understand and that they were here indeed!.. She added that
sometimes, at the end of the concerts, some musicians used to do a "boeuf"
(it means that they sing several songs with other musicians and people
who want to sing along with them), it is a non official private show.
- I got what I wanted, but no room, so she asked if
I was interested to get one bedroom at the Park Hotel (same group),
which was 200m far from the Plaza, I said ok.
- Well, July 26th arrived and I didn't really sleep
the nite b4. I left at 9 am, and took the train from Bordeaux at 11 am.
I arrived in Nice at 7:10 pm, over 8 hours later! The trip wasn't too bad,
even if a child about 5 y.o. cried for 6 hours... I initially took the
wrong bus, but eventually got the right one and arrived at "Les jardins
et arènes de Cimiez". There were 3 stages, the biggest one
(the one of CHIC) was in a olive tree garden in the open air. When
I passed the checkpoint, I was afraid that they would take my big camera,
because when I called the festival organization and asked if I could take
pictures, they said that it was possible with a small camera, but not with
a big camera. So I took both my big camera and a little pocket one.
- The girl asked me if I got "cans" with
me and asked me to open my bag. My bag got lots of pockets, so I started
to open the ones which had nothing of interest. When she was about to open
the right one, I just showed her my medicines which were in another one,
and she finally said, "well it's ok, go" I thought I was lucky
I still didn't know yet, how lucky this nite would be for me, I guess it
was MY nite with CHIC! I entered the gardens, took 2 programmes and saw
the big crowd there, I thought it was going to be impossible for me to
get close to the stage. I remembered on the 'Live In Japan' DVD, that Nile
was on the left of the stage, so I tried to get on that side, but it was
definitely too crowded I gave up. It was 8 pm, and CHIC was announced for
10:30 pm, so I decided to drink and to eat before doing anything (it
was already darned hot by that time, over 35°c and forests were on
fire not too far from Nice). While I was eating and drinking, I listened
to Robert Plant, whom I liked, especially the final song. When he ended
his show, most of the crowd went away, I was amazed and decided to approach
the stage. But then, I thought that people who came to listen to Keziah
Jones may not stay for CHIC. So I decided to have a rest, and that I'd
begin to approach the stage 1 hour before CHIC would come on stage.
- The hour came, and I started to approach the stage
quite HARD to thread your way among a crowd which was not moving, yelling
"KEZIAH, KEZIAH" when you don't care at all !.. But I finally
got as far as 6 rows from the stage. Then, Keziah ended his show 20 minutes
before the official time. The same thing that happened after Robert Plant
stopped playing, happened again: most of the crowd went away. I approached
the stage to the first row, I was in the middle of it, but no one was moving
on from this row. Then a girl, just in front of me, looked around her and
said to 2 other girls, "well, let's go". And they left I jumped,
and no one could make me move from there!!!..
- We waited over half an hour ; I saw the technicians
working, they placed everything, like the songs lists + a paper
on which you could see the words of a song which surprised me and then I saw flashes behind the stage, then the same announcer you can hear on the 'Live In Japan' DVD, announced: "Nile Rodgers and CHIIIIIIIIIIIIIIIIIIIIIC!!!"
- Then, and for 1 hour and a half, I lost my mind and
went CRAZY!!! 25 years of passion for my favorite band burst!
- I was dancing, singing, acting on the words, yelling
(it took me 10 days to recover my voice after the show).
I was so excited that Nile saw me, and he was laughing by seeing me. He
smiled at me several times. When Sylver (or the other singer) was
watching me, as I knew the words, we sometimes did the same gestures, which
made us laugh. Once, at the end of a song, I yelled "SYLVER",
while she was walking to the bottom of the stage. She turned back, and
said smiling, showing me with her finger "YOU, keep singing!"
After the 1st 2 or 3 songs, Keziah Jones came back to listen to CHIC, he
sat just in front of me, so I got photographers and cameras on me. I've
been shot with him, but I didn't care at all, I was still dancing and singing.
Then, after a while, Nile didn't smile at all, he seemed to be embarrassed,
I wondered why? Then I saw Sylver, she was sitting behind the drums, holding
her head in her right hand, and she kept singing the chorus, while the
other singer sang the song. She seemed to be ill. At the end of the song,
she came back in the front of the stage, and Nile kissed her. I sometimes
took pictures with my little camera (around 2 or 3 by song), because
I didn't want them to take my big one.
- The crowd was not very excited at the beginning of
the show, but became more and more excited. And at the end, I wasn't the
only CRAZY one!!! Then came the time of "CHIC Cheer", which announced
the end of the show. Nile introduced all the musicians and said about Omar
that, he was the musician with whom he had played for the longest time
in his life, and that they were very young when they first met and played
together; about Bill Holloman (saxophone) that "he got the
worst haircut in the world". Each musician played at his best, especially
Jerry Barnes on his bass. Then they sang "My Forbidden Lover"
(the new singer made a mistake and Sylver helped her to get back into
the song), and "We Are Family."
- They all went off the stage, and I yelled like the
rest of the crowd. Then they finally came back for the last song, which
was "Good Times."
- At the end, it was craziness in the crowd, everyone
was yelling! Nile and the rest of the band saluted the crowd, and Keziah
(+ Marcus MILLER if I did recognize him) who stayed until
the end of the show. Two of the musicians threw their towels to the public,
and then Nile stayed alone on the stage. He seemed to be amazed by the
crowd. He thanked the people of Nice, and said "See ya next year in
Nice" (waow, what news!..). He then added:"There is no
party like a disco party". He went off the stage and the technicians
started to pack the instruments. But the crowd became WILD!.. The technicians
stopped packing the instruments and 5 minutes later, Nile came back on
stage and asked if we wanted to hear a last song. We all yelled "YEAH!!!.."
He said that they never did that a second recall! He went off the stage
and finally came back with all the musicians.
- Sylver looked at us with a bad face (but it was
for a laugh): "Do you realize that I'd just taken off my shoes!.."
Then they sang "Le Freak", and the crowd was incredible, singing
along with them. At the end of the song, everyone went off the stage, except
Nile. He went to the right of the stage to salute the audience, then to
the left. We were so excited that he threw his bandana to the crowd ON
THE LEFT SIDE!.. I was in the middle!.. DAMNED!!! Then he went off the
stage for good.
- I asked a technician, if I could get 2 song lists,
which he gave me (but unfortunately, I didn't read it at right away,
which I should've done !!!) and I also asked for the paper on which
there were the words of a song, but a woman photographer asked for it and
got it !.. DAMNED!!! At the same time, on my right I heard a guy saying
"Too late !" I turned to him, he was with 5 or 6 persons and
they all said that I was incredible PROUD!
- Then I decided to go to the Plaza Hotel, to see if
they were going to do a "boeuf". I went out of the gardens, it
was crowded everywhere. Only 2 buses were there for all the people. One
was full, the other was empty. So I went to that one and then stopped,
cos I realized that that one would take the place of the full one. This
happened. It stopped just in front of me and I got a sitting place. Ten
minutes later, we arrived close to the "Promenade des Anglais",
so I went to the Plaza Hotel, it was a quarter to 1 am. I waited there,
sitting at a table at the "boeuf room", wishing them to come!
At a 14 to 2 am, I saw Jerry Barnes the bassist, I went to him and asked
him for an autograph (on the "Live In Japan" DVD), which
he accepted. I told him he did a great job, and we talked about 'Nard.
I said he was my favorite musician ever, and he told me that Bernard was
his favorite too. I asked if Nile and the others would come to do a "boeuf",
but he said "I don't think so", I asked if Sylver was ill and
he said that she was! So I understood that they wouldn't do the "boeuf".
We talked a little about the album, he said that they were going to tape
it in Sweden in the next days. Then he asked me what was my name, I said
"Patrice", and he said "Jo" while he was shaking my
- I left him because he was looking for something to
eat. One hour later, I saw Omar. I went to him, asked him for an autograph,
congratulated him for the show, and asked if they were going to play here
tonite, he said "No I don't think" and he also told me that Sylver
- Then I waited again at the end I understood that
they wouldn't come. So I decided to ask Jo when he'd be back, if he thought
he would be able to get me autographs from Sylver and Nile. It was 2:30
am when Jo came back. I followed him, put my hand on his shoulder and said
"Jo" At the same time, someone did the same on his other shoulder,
so he turned to this person, and then I looked on my right and went PETRIFIED
Nile was there so closed I could have touched him. I went back to my table
to take my bag, and immediately came back to Nile. I got a pen in my left
hand, the 2 programmes and the sleeve of the "Live In Japan"
DVD in my right hand and I stayed there, in front of him, watching him,
around 3m away from him. He was talking with 2 nice women. After a few
seconds, he saw me and came to me with his arms and hands opened. He took
the pen and the sleeve out of my hands and I asked him for an autograph!
And then I lost my mind!.. I forgot my English and talked to him in an
awful English-French language I asked him if he got my card, but didn't
wait for the answer. It was so amazing to me, how could I ever think that
this moment would ever happen. I wished this moment would never end, and
I also knew it would be quite a short one, so I wanted to say everything
I got in me! I told him he was a genius, that I've loved CHIC for 25 years,
I asked if Sylver was ill, etc
- He said that Sylver was ill and that they wouldn't
sing because of that while trying to do an autograph In fact, the pen didn't
work well on the cover of the DVD, so he did another autograph inside the
sleeve. Then I asked him if he could give me another autograph, for another
HUGE fan ? He said ok, and he did it on one of the Nice Jazz Festival programmes
I took. I said that it was for "pocat" (I had to spell it)
and told him that "He is the one who created the chictribute.com site.
Then he went: "Oh, he's a friend of yours?, -yeah !.. Well, actually
we are going to Sweden tomorrow to tape a new album that we'll arrange
in New York, and then we're gonna meet him!" I was soo jealous!
- Then I asked if I could hug him (like Americans
do) he said while opening his arms "YES of course !.." This
was THE GREATEST moment, to hold him in my arms for a few seconds. Then
I kissed him on his left cheek (like we do in FRANCE).
- The moment was too perfect because Omar just came,
so I asked Nile "can I shoot a picture of you with Omar?" Both
said "Yeah sure !" I shot the picture with my big camera (this
picture is my fav'). Then I asked if I could get a picture shot of
Nile with me? He said "Of course!.." Omar shot it, and I asked
to do another one, in case it would have not worked well Omar shot a second
one, and then Nile said "Another one?.." (I was so happy.
The second one wasn't good, cos Nile was talking to me at the moment Omar
shot it, so I guess Nile realized that this one was wrong and asked for
a 3rd one). Then I thanked him for having given me so much happiness!
I left him, but couldn't stop watching him. I've been waiting for this
moment for such a long time and it probably won't happen another time in
my life! So I stayed not too far (5-6m) from him which I realize
now, might have been embarrassing for him But I waited to get the other
musicians autographs and I hoped that Sylver would finally come down.
- She didn't come down, but I got the autograph of
Gerardo Velez. Then Nile went to his bedroom, and I left the Plaza on a
cloud! I was so H.A.P.P.Y.! Of course 'Nard wasn't there, but WHAT A NITE!
I went to "sleep" at 3:30 am, but didn't sleep well, I was still
at the concert!
- The next day on the train, I was still at the concert
(and the 9 hours weren't too long) !.. So I took all the stuff I'd
collected and looked at it. I bought some newspapers. They said that the
CHIC nite had been the most crowded nite of all the festival: over 5 000
persons. When I looked at the songs lists I was Shocked! Because in the
list, there was a song they didn't sing (maybe cos' of Sylver was ill?),
and maybe it was the words of this song which were on the paper next to
the new singer, I don't know? The song was "At Last I Am Free."
If only I had read the list before I went to the hotel, I could have asked
- When I came back to Paris, I got news by lots of
people who saw me on television. But no one taped it!
- The Nice concert was shot by M6 television, and I
contacted them to know when they will broadcast it. And CANAL+ made an
interview with Nile, and they showed some pictures from the concert. Everyone
told me that they could see me shouting "FREAK OUT" for 3 seconds
(a star is born).