BRIGHTON DOME, 13/4/17
Ever since the heady days of Stock, Aitken and Waterman, many years ago, Rick Astley's success has owed as much to the irresistible soul-tinged pop that showcased his enviable vocal talents, as to the be-quiffed good looks that made him the pin-up of choice for an entire generation and beyond.
In support of one of last year's '50' album, one of 2016's greatest musical comebacks and his first new material in a decade, tonight's show sees Astley dapper and confident in a smart black suit, ably flanked by a four-piece band and two backing singers. Working through a setlist of material taken from all stages of his career, alongside a couple of interesting cover versions, every song was performed with passion and panache and Astley also had the opportunity to demonstrate his own musical prowess by playing piano and guitar over the course of the evening.
From the beginning Astley actively his capacity audience to sing and dance along with the music, and he made particular targets of the many men in the audience he suspected had been dragged along by their wives and girlfriends, urging them to uncross their arms and enjoy themselves with surprising success as the crowd were mostly on their feet from the opening bars of his hit single 'Together Forever'.
Referencing the various stages of his career throughout the set, Astley played material from the eighties to today - including classic hits like 'Hold Me In Your Arms' and 'Whenever You Need Somebody', going so far as to welcome an 80s 'Keytar' (a synth worn like a guitar) onstage for a couple of tracks - but sidestepped the temptations of a retrospective and kept the music current with the inclusion of effective cover versions of Rihanna's 'Take Me To Your Heart' and Ed Sheeran's 'Shape of You', although Astley was suitably self-deprecating when he put on reading glasses to read the lyrics for latter
The many highlights of the evening included a heartfelt rendition of 'Cry For Help', written about a homeless man, which would give Sam Smith and Astley's many modern contemporaries a run for their money although he never fell into the trap of taking himself too seriously as evidenced in a section of the show where - with the help of a giant white MDF origami boat alongside beach balls, ice creams and deckchairs - the stage was transformed into a beach scene for an acoustic interlude.
As impressive as the entire show was however, it was inevitable that the track that closed the evening was the one that everyone was waiting for. 'Never Gonna Give You Up', accompanied by the origianl 1987 video saw the show end in fine style with Astley competing with the audience for both volume and enthusiasm before promising to return to Brighton very soon. Another town conquered, another audience charmed, and everyone already counting down the days until the next time...
BRIGHTON DOME, 13/4/17
Coming Home Tonight / Together Forever / Keep Singing / This Old House / Hold Me in Your Arms / It Would Take a Strong Strong Man / Whenever You Need Somebody / Pieces / Cry for Help / Shape of You / Sailing / Sleeping / Superman / Wish Away / Dance / Angels On My Side / Pray With Me / Take Me to Your Heart + We Found Love / Never Gonna Give You Up
Review & Photographs: Andy Sturmey.
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