Words: Simon Button
Has Rick Astley been, or indeed ever had, this much fun on tour before? On his 2018 jaunt he’s embracing his past with a hearty selection of Stock Aitken Waterman hits and clearly loving the reaction to a renaissance that began with his brilliant 50 album a couple of years ago and continues with this year’s even better Beautiful Life.
The second night of his two-day stop at London’s Eventim Apollo began with just Rick, a guitar and that amazing voice of his (which is even more powerful now than it was in the 80s) on stirring new single ‘Try’ as the rest of the band slowly filtered onto the stage.
He then got the party started with ‘This Old House’, encouraging the full house to get up and dance with a very funny “Come on, it’s Friday night, you mothers!”
The set was front-loaded with such camp SAW classics as ‘Together Forever’, ‘Whenever You Need Somebody’ and ‘She Wants To Dance With Me’. The second half was mostly the rockier newer stuff, plus a bit of Chic’s ‘Good Times’ thrown in for good measure and a very clever, hugely enjoyable mash-up of George Ezra’s ‘Shotgun’ with Paul Simon’s ‘You Can Call Me Al’.
Very comfortable in his 52-year-old skin, Astley is a true showman with a set of pipes most younger pop stars would kill for.
View this post on Instagram
The Rick-naissance is, like Take That’s comeback, more about solid songwriting than pop ditties, although ‘Beautiful Life’ and ‘Dance’ are just as upbeat and danceable as ‘Never Gonna Give You Up’ - his biggest hit which, not surprisingly, he saved for last to make sure we all went home with a massive spring in our steps.
Mention must also be made of support act Gabrielle, who has been off-radar for a while but is back with her wonderful new album Under My Skin. In a short, sublime set she delivered lots of hits (‘Dreams’, ‘When A Woman’, ‘Out Of Reach’) and new tracks like ‘Show Me’ and ‘Shine’ that already seem like classics.
Soulful of voice and warm of spirit, she deserves her chance to shine again.
Rick Astley is touring the UK until November 25. For great deals on tickets and shows click here