Updated: Feb 5
Having seen him a number of times already in the past, I was delighted to hear that on 29th October 2018 that Mr Rick Astley was making a return to the north east as part of his UK tour. I think each and every time I go to any of his shows, I find myself loving him even more. It is worth noting as well that due to popular demand Rick Astley was actually hosting not one but two nights at the Sage Gateshead.
So anyway back to the review. Before we even got to the point of having Rick on stage, we were all treated to a special surprise as opening up on the tour was the fabulous and talented singer song writer, Gabrielle. For anyone who was growing up in the 1990s.
Gabrielle was one of those artists which you would hear every time you listened to the radio, turned on the TV and if you went to any parties would have people swaying and singing along to the moment any of her tracks came on. For a while she kind of went off the radar, so was really lovely to see her back in action. Not only this but also returns to the scene with her new album, Under My Skin. Therefore it was truly brilliant to hear some of the songs from her record as I watched her perform live.
Looking around me I could tell that even though Gabrielle was the support artist for the night, the audience nevertheless we’re loving her new material and were extremely respectable by giving her their full attention. Two of my favourite new songs from her collection that she shared with the audience were ‘Shine’ and ‘Show Me’. Just by hearing them and her confidence on stage you can tell how she has evolved as an artist since the days of her debut album in 1996. Yes it may be something different to what fans may be use to but it is still very exciting and refreshing either way, and makes you want to check out the full album, Under My Skin even more. Of course Gabrielle could not leave the stage without a couple extra treats for the music fans which included one of her most iconic songs, Out Of Reach. Was truly so special to see that performed live.
With Gabrielle setting the tone for the evening ahead, it was time for a quick interlude before the stage was set up for our host for the night. Now when I first saw Rick in 2015 I was in the middle, then each time seemed like I was getting closer and closer to the front, so I was beaming with smiles and doing jazz hands inside my head when on this occasion I was sat in the third row at the Sage, in the centre to a prime location for watching Rick Astley – like wow! Haha! It is like when you go to the cinema you start off with 2D, then upgrade to 3D and IMAX and are pretty happy, then you discover 4D then you are like woahhhh where have you been all my life haha.
Anyway the atmosphere in the audience is beyond buzzing, there is excitement, there is adrenaline and what a honour it is to be in this place with my fellow Rick Astley fans to share the experience. The lights go down and a silhouette of Rick Astley holding a guitar appears in front of a curtain as he opens the set with ‘Try’ taken from his most recent album, Beautiful Life. As the song continues the curtain starts to lift, and with each glimpse of Rick we see, the louder the cheers become from the audience in the room. Me at this point, as you can imagine I am sat just looking on in amazement of being face to face with one of my favourite artists.
With a quick hello to the crowd, it isn’t long till the audience is soon on their feet as Rick takes us back to his album 50, and one of my favourite songs from it as well, This Old House. This may be a seated venue, but given the opportunity to get up and dance, that is something you will never have to ask any Rick Astley fan, myself included to think twice about. Whether your young or young at heart it was so remarkable and brilliant to see every single person in that room getting involved.
As the set continued Rick gave us charm, gave us banter and being the positive influence he ensured whether this was your first time or 100th time at one of his shows, that everyone is welcome. In terms of the music, yes I have no shame in admitting I enjoy listening to Beautiful Life on Deezer on loops most days since it was released back in July, but there is nothing better than the man himself being stood in front of you singing the songs live. In fact it caused the record itself and my appreciation of it to be taken from the next level. Some of the delights from the album included, She Makes Me , Shivers to name but a few.
Obviously you cant go to a Rick Astley show without hearing some of the classics either so not one to disappoint he took us back to 1980s with Together Forever and a song to try and involve the males in the audience who might have been dragged to the shows by their significant others, Hold Me In Your Arms. Whenever he does that part of the set at any of the shows I just love it, because hey given the chance to take part guys will give it 100%.
Another highlight in the set for me was the part of the night where Rick always like to show his respects to other musicians in the industry at the moment. Last time I saw him he did a fabulous cover of an Ed Sheeran song, so what was it going to be this time? None other than George Ezra and his song, Shotgun. It was really fun to see Rick not just cover such a famous song but also add his own twist to it. Let me say this again – could Rick Astley get anymore cooler than he already is!
Time was ticking away, and everyone was quite clearly in party mood thanks to the vibe Rick brought since the very moment he appeared on stage. While I am sure many people would agree with me that they wish it could be a Rick Astley party 24/7 it was getting to that stage of the night where it was almost time to say goodbye – yes even thinking about it makes me sad. A bit like when Bert & the kids, Jane and Michael are feeling when they make a visit to Uncle Albert’s house but Mary Poppins makes them float back down and feel like crying when they know it is home time.
Having already played 16 brilliant songs from a mixture of his new album, Beautiful Life, his previous album 50, and also a few of the classics, as Rick left the stage, a defiant and excited crowd demanded an encore. Rick being the man he is, is never one to disappoint, so after a couple minutes wasn’t long till he was back on stage to give us a few extra tunes to end this night in style. The crowd took every opportunity to embrace it. With spirits high and smiles on everyone’s faces as their dancing and singing along at the top of their voices, it is time to actually call it a night, but not without hearing the most iconic song which anyone will know, Never Gonna Give You Up. Yessssss!
So there we have it, an evening spent with Rick Astley and mannnn what a truly brilliant experience it was. I have been to so many concerts over the years, some good, some not so good, but if there is one thing I can say it is that it is always such a happy experience whenever Rick Astley is involved. I look forward to seeing this incredible and talented guy returning to the region again real soon!
Article By T.C