Yorkshire Times
A Voice of the Free Press
Graham Clark
Music Features Writer
5:20 PM 26th February 2024

Rick Astley - Arriving In Style

Rick Astley
Photos: Graham Clark
Rick Astley Photos: Graham Clark
When Rick Astley scored his first number one hit with his debut single, Never Gonna Give You Up, in 1987, it catapulted him to worldwide fame. The production trio Stock Aitken and Waterman were at the peak of their writing success, and the song subsequently became part of eighties pop music folklore. 

Astley became an internet sensation in 2007 when the video of Never Gonna Give You Up became integral to the Rickrolling meme. Lately, his career has continued to thrive, in part due to a memorable performance at last year's Glastonbury festival.

Not surprisingly, his audience at the Leeds Arena was predominately middle-aged, with a smattering of younger members of the audience, the former seemingly wanting to relive their youths, and the latter no doubt curious to see in concert the new artist they had recently discovered via his festival performances.

With a new record, Are We There Yet? to promote, the bulk of his set was taken from the album. Not that the new songs contained are less important than his older tracks; instead, they show a deeper and more soulful side to Astley.

Wearing his trademark double-breasted suit, his voice has aged well; from the opening number of the soulful Never Gonna Stop to the pop perfection of Together Forever, the concert was a lesson in how to blend the old and the new songs in harmony. Throw in a couple of cover versions like Harry Styles' As It Was and AC/DC's Highway to Hell, and even the more cynical observer would have been impressed.

Whenever You Need Somebody was successfully redesigned into a montage with the chic hit, Good Times, predictably there was only going to be one end to the evening. As Astley teased the audience with the opening line of Never Gonna Give You Up, they sang back in unison, the roof of the arena almost lifted, and a spirit of joyful exuberance abounded.

Are we there yet? might be a question posed by the title of Astley's new album. In Leeds, the singer successfully arrived at his destination in style.

The tour continues with further dates in the north:
2nd March - Manchester Arena
7th March - Liverpool Arena
5th July - Scarborough Open Air Theatre
6th July - Lytham Festival