Rick Astley performing His Greatest Hits & Songs From His Forthcoming Album at The Royal Concert Hall Nottingham on Saturday 2nd April

Images and Review by Kevin Cooper

Gone was the obligatory blazer and gut wrenching shyness that Rick Astley was famous for in the 80’s, and what a packed audience at The Royal Concert Hall were treated to last night was a funny and confident Astley, who still knows how to belt out a song or two.

With just him, his tight five piece band and a very talented female backing singer, they had the crowd immediately up on their feet to sing along to old favourite Together Forever, and they never sat down again all evening.

To repeated shouts of “We love you Ricky”, Astley fully embraced this new lease of life as he effortlessly melded his 80’s hits with entertaining covers of contemporary pop and his own new self-penned material.  He took this enthusiastic audience on a trip down memory lane with hits like It Would Take A Strong Strong Man, Hold Me In Your Arms and She Wants To Dance With Me.

Keep Singing, his latest single was simply outstanding and showcased his exceptionally impressive voice which is as capable of hitting the high notes as it is sitting in the deeper range.  Picking up a guitar for new song Pieces, he then launched into a heartfelt Angels On My Side.

But whilst the musical content of this concert was well worth the cost of the ticket, what was truly amazing is how comfortable Astley is on stage.  He was charming, charismatic and at times very funny.  Whilst constantly reminding us that he celebrated his fiftieth birthday in February so he can now do as he likes, he gave some lager to a man on the front row who had difficulty “loosening up”, and to a constant heckler in the crowd who demanded that he sing Cry For Help, he asked whether she had to get off early to catch her bus.

Things were slowed down with When I Fall In Love before he upped the tempo with Whitney Houston’s I Wanna Dance With Somebody, together with an excellent cover of Clean Bandit’s Rather Be.  The whole Concert Hall erupted with his version of Mark Ronson’s Uptown Funk, before the heckler got her way as the first chords of Cry For Help sent the crowd to Astley heaven.  Segueing into a chaotic medley of reggae tinged Do You Really Want To Hurt Me, Get Down On It and many more, he then surprised this audience by taking to the drums to deliver a very acceptable cover of AC/DC’s Highway To Hell.

The evening closed with a couple of undoubted Astley classics, Whenever You Need Somebody and his most iconic hit Never Gonna Give You Up which was the final song in a surprisingly engaging performance that more than deserved its ovation.