Rick Astley at Electric Ballroom
Lincolnshire-born Rick Astley is no one-hit wonder. Celebrating the release of his ninth studio album Are We There Yet?, the singer turns a Monday night at the Electric Ballroom into a thrilling showcase of nostalgic classics and modern anthems.
Arriving on stage to the Star Wars theme song, Astley is sure to set the tone early. This is an album launch in the middle of Camden Town after all: there are no rules here. Wildly charismatic, the musician charms his audience with jokes and quips between tracks. There are a few hecklers and a birthday shout-out, with one passionate fan declaring mid-set that she’d travelled from South Africa for the singer, comically receiving an invite to Astley’s hotel room. There is some freedom in being nearly 40 years into one’s career and it seems both the Northerner and his fans are enjoying it.
Songs from the new record take centre stage and demonstrate Astley’s range. Country-esque Dippin’ My Feet contrasts nicely against the sultry Forever and More, as Golden Hour, a romantic ballad about a long-term romance, evokes a tender reaction from the crowd. He makes some self-deprecating remarks about a few dodgy notes but Astley’s vocals remain impressive throughout. Accompanied by a live band, backup singers and colour-changing light rods scattered across the stage, the artist puts on a stellar display.
A cover of Harry Styles’s As It Was, a staple in the singer’s summer festival circuit, goes down a treat with audience members who perhaps weren’t around in Astley’s heyday. For those who were, a few older tracks make their appearance to a joyous reception. 1988 hit Together Forever sets the night off to an energetic start, while the iconic Never Gonna Give You Up makes for a spectacular finale. It is a testament to the singer’s star power, with the crowd erupting into a mass singalong and dance. “You can’t follow up (that song),” he announces, well aware of its impact. Instead, the rest of the time is filled with band introductions turned jam sessions. It is a fitting end to a wonderfully unpolished gig.
As the house lights come up, the last of the cheers ring through the venue. It might be a much more humble stage than Astley is used to, but that doesn’t mean he’s going to give less than his all. Suited and booted, with the talent and charm to match, it turns out that a night with Rick Astley is the perfect way to spend a Monday.
Photos: Virginie Viche
For further information and future events visit Rick Astley’s website here.
Watch the video for the single Never Gonna Stop here: