Rick Astley is enjoying one hell of a comeback, one would have thought that after such phenomenal success in the 80’s whilst riding the Stock Aitken and Waterman wagon, there’d be little less in the tank to offer, how wrong we were….
He retired in 1993 and took time out to raise his daughter, returning to the industry in 2007. Since then, he has released two records ’50’ (released when he turned 50 years old) and more recently, ‘Beautiful Life’ which set the scene for tonight’s show.
Opening up proceedings was Brit/Ivor Novello/Mobo award winning singer songwriter Gabrielle who dazzled the capacity audience with hits from her back catalogue including ‘Out of Reach’, ‘Dreams’ and ‘Rise’, proving that this London based chanteuse is more than capable of pleasing a room a whole quarter century after she first hit the big time!
Moments before Rick took to the stage, the crew at Plymouth Pavilions were doing a great job of injecting as much dry ice onto the stage as possible, when Rick took to the stage, even the front row struggled to make him out, despite only being stood a few feet away! He got through the opening number and disappeared side of stage for a moment and came back on coughing and spluttering, asking for the ‘smoke machine’ to be shut down for the night!
Once the smoke had cleared, Rick took us on a roller coaster ride consisting of classic hits and new material from his most recent long player ‘Beautiful Life’ which have helped to shape this Lancastrian legend into a charismatic, entertaining and super talented pop and soul singer.
His voice is instantly recognisable and as he has matured (a polite way of saying he has got older), his vocal chords have too, leading you away from the more manufactured tones of the 80’s to a much more soulful offering which I must admit, is the preferred style for me.
Having interviewed him in 2017 at the Hyde Park BBC2 ‘Festival in a Day’, it was refreshing to see that he hasn't let his fame turn him into a bloated megastar, he was more than happy to meet his fans and pose for photos and it felt akin to chatting to an old friend, a real gentleman!
The hits flowed all evening, ‘Hold Me In Your Arms’ was interrupted twice with two renditions of ‘Happy Birthday’ to celebrate the births of a couple of crew members, they performed a stunning cover version of George Ezra’s ‘Shotgun’ which sounded better than the original, midway through this, they broke into ‘Call Me Al’ by Paul Simon which featured a tremendous vocal performance by the keyboard player!
‘Cry For Help’, sounded as good now as it did in its heyday, allowing his two incredible backing singer's to ‘bring it on home’. ‘Angels on my Side’ shone and really gave the audience a second wind towards the end of his incredible set.
‘Shivers’ closed the initial set and the band left the stage to rapturous applause. They regrouped and returned to the stage shortly afterwards for a couple more songs, the latter being the one that everyone knew and loved, ‘Never Gonna Give You Up’, which was delivered with as much gusto as Rick offered back in 1987.
The band did an amazing job of allowing Rick to shine, their on-stage chemistry was great and Rick made point of singling each member out in turn to showcase their individual talents.
I knew that tonight was going to be a great show and judging by the smiles on everyone’s faces as they left the arena, they wholeheartedly agreed!
I’m sure this won’t be the last time we’ll see Rick Astley perform in Plymouth, I doubt it’ll be next year as he’ll be busy supporting what remains of Take That on their UK ‘Greatest Hits Live’ arena tour which will keep him busy from April to June, whenever it happens, I am sure the people of Plymouth will be here once again to welcome him with open arms.
Review by Steve Muscutt