Rick Astley with special guest Belinda Carlisle performing his Are We There Yet? Tour at The Motorpoint Arena Nottingham on Thursday 22nd February 2024.

Images and Review by Kevin Cooper

Celebrating the release of his ninth studio album, Are We There Yet? Rick Astley turned the Motorpoint Arena on Thursday night into a thrilling showcase of nostalgic classics, modern anthems and new songs.

But up first was the former singer of the Go-Go’s, Belinda Carlisle who looked resplendent in a blacktop and sparkly gold skirt, who twirled her way around the stage bare footed and by the time the opening chord of (We Want) The Same Thing had been struck , the crowd were on their feet, where they remained.

With her infectious energy, the Californian born songbird was in fine voice throughout her nine song set which unsurprisingly came from prized solo albums, Runaway Horses and Heaven On Earth which were released a couple of years apart in the late 1980’s. The crowd sang their way through the hits such as I Get Weak, the wonderfully mystical Circle In The Sand and Summer Rain which was a real highlight.

The outstanding Runaway Horses displayed her sharp vocals and the timeless pop classics, Leave A Light On and Heaven Is A Place On Earth were a perfect way to end her set as the Arena raucously roared the words right back at her.

The 80’s icon that is firmly on everyone’s radar following his spectacular appearance on the Pyramid Stage at last year’s Glastonbury and his Smiths tribute with the Blossoms which went down a storm, Rick Astley came onto the Arena stage and immediately showed his infallible ability to not take himself too seriously. Walking from one side of the stage to the other he was unbelievably charming, deftly flipping his mic from one hand to the other as he opened with new song Never Gonna Stop.

Together Forever fuelled the energy of the crowd, not that it needed much, as he followed up with Beautiful Life. The country sounding new song Dippin’ My Feet and Driving Me Crazy held their own amongst a set list that contained all of his classics, whilst the first chords of the soft rock gospel Cry For Help sent the crowd to Astley heaven as the Arena was lit up with phone torches.

A cover of Harry Styles’ As It Was, a staple in the singer’s summer festival circuit last year went down a treat especially with the younger members of the audience. Forever And More with its Motown inflected mid-tempo strut was followed by Dance with its swirly R & B grooves and as Astley introduced his band and the extremely talented backing singers he did so with great humour.

Bringing the main set to an end with Angels On My Side and Whenever You Need Somebody, the crowd were almost hoarse with the immense sing-along’s. For the encore there was the live debut of Maria Love before he took to the drums to deliver a very acceptable cover of AC/DC’s Highway To Hell before the song that everyone had been waiting for, Never Gonna Give You Up made for a spectacular finale.

There is no doubt that Astley still remains relevant; a star from the 80s who still commands large crowds, who has recruited new fans along his journey, and he has done that because he has remained unapologetically true to himself. And he is very entertaining.