Gig Review by Hayley Clark with Photography by Zoe Shannon

Rick Astley

“I know your only here for Never Gonna Give You Up” quipped 80’s icon Rick Astley, echoing a social media feed I took part in earlier in the day, 28 years in the business but the song he’s most remembered for, “you’ll just have to wait, you buggers!”.

Rick Astley

Opening with ‘Strong Strong Man’ before teasing the audience to their feet with the starting sequence of that 1987 song before jumping into ‘Together Forever’, swaying from side to side, engaging with the audience with cheeky banter, smiles and little anecdotes of the tour and declaring he was talking a lot as he had a ‘Jäger’ before he came on stage tonight.

Rick Astley

Sporting his trademark quiff and looking very dapper in a sharp suit accompanied by his six-piece band, who matched his dress code smoothy. As he addressed the experienced audience of the Symphony Hall in Birmingham, mainly female groups reminiscing on the days of blasting out the Stock Aitken and Waterman tracks before hitting the town but also the men, who in Astley’s words “had been dragged to the show by their better halves”.

Rick Astley

Nat King Cole’s ‘When I fall in love’ slowed down to bring some romance in the room, showing off his versatile tones and providing a striking contrast to the 80’s synth sounds in the build up to ‘Keep Singing’ (his latest single), with a catchy chorus yet soulful melody echoing songs of the charts. If you didn’t know who the singer was you could easily mistake for the likes of chart toppers Hozier, with the modern vibe and stomping beat.

Rick Astley

Latest offerings ensured it wasn’t just an 80’s reunion tour as it was time for that song the audience had eagerly awaited for, or was it? “I’ve been given a piece a paper before coming on and is there a Steve here with Julie?” Astley quipped, bringing Steve onto the stage who had decided with beer in his hand to tell the love of his life, in a way only possible at this concert “We’re no strangers to love, you know the rules and so do I, A full commitments what I’m thinking of… JULIE TURNER WILL YOU MARRY ME?”

Rick Astley

The enthusiastic audience were treated as he gave Bruno Mars and Mark Ronson a run for their money with ‘Uptown funk’ and Clean Bandits’ ‘Rather Be’ showing off his moves before slowing things down as the night came to a climax with hit ‘Cry for help’, promoting the beautiful vocals of talented backing singer Dawn Joseph whose voice had been on fire tonight.

Rick Astley

The audience didn’t want to say goodbye, as the lights went down and band exited the stage. If the anecdotes over his love of twirls, Jägermeister, over fifteen songs and a wedding hadn’t been enough, the encore that followed didn’t disappoint. Returning to stage with a finale of 80’s phenomenal classics ‘Whenever You Need Someone’ and as ‘Never Gonna Give You Up’ started , the audience went wild, screaming, dancing and singing away the night to their heartthrob, who at 50 years captivated the audience perfectly.

Rick Astley

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