Back in the 80s, he was big star, a heart throb who made the young girls swoon with his handsome looks, distinctive voice and signature dance moves. Almost 30 years later, it appears not much has changed. As Rick Astley, looking sharp in a tailored suit, walked onto the stage at the packed Revesby Worker's Club, excited fans rushed to the front to get closer to their idol, proving that he is still very popular and much adored today.
On completion of the opening song 'Together Forever', a somewhat surprised Astley graciously thanked the audience for their enthusiastic gesture and remarked that although he doesn't like long-haul flights, he looks forward to visiting as Australian audiences are always the most welcoming and responsive. Due to the size of the crowd, he joked that Wednesday must be the new Thursday and was flattered that so many people had turned up to see him on a work night.
Feeding off the adulation, a happy and relaxed Astley continued with 'Strong Strong Man', 'She Wants to Dance With Me' and Nat King Cole's 'When I fall in Love'. The crowd danced around, waving their albums, tapes and other memorabilia in the air. Clearly under Rick's spell, I'm sure time stood still for many and they were transported back to the fond memories of their youth. Astley would often grab one of those items and mockingly hold it up next to his face.
A highlight of the show is when an audience member is picked and asked to join Rick on stage to sing 'My Arms Keep Missing You'. On this occasion, the lucky lady was more interested in dancing than singing. Astley obliged by letting her have her moment in the spotlight; as she cut loose around the stage, he sang and attempted to copy some of her moves.
Another unexpected highlight was when the punters started calling for Rick's musical director/keyboardist (and Wa Wa Nee frontman), Paul Gray, to sing a song. Despite his reluctance, a somewhat embarrassed Gray gave in to Rick's insistence, and audience demand, to sing the chorus of his 80s smash 'Stimulation'.
The night continued with more mega hits like 'Take Me To Your Heart, 'Don't Make Me Cry Girl, 'Hold Me In Your Arms', 'The Ones You Love' and 'Cry For Help' to name a few. I had forgotten there were so many!
There were also a few covers thrown in for good measure; songs like 'Happy' by Pharrell Williams, 'Ain't Too Proud To Beg', 'My Girl' and Swedish House Mafia's 'Don't You Worry Child' were received well by the crowd. The set concluded with Daft Punk's 'Get Lucky'. The diversity of songs ensured that there was something for everyone.
Whilst it appears the 80s dance moves have been put to rest, new ones have taken their place - 'the running man' was executed on several occasions!
As the crowd demanded more, Astley returned with his global monster hits 'Whenever You Need Somebody' and 'Never Gonna Give You Up'. With the punters jumping around and singing along to each and every word, many acted like teenagers - reaching out to touch Astley's legs and shoes or hoping to shake his hand. They couldn't get enough.
Despite requests for more, the evening had ended and we were asked to leave but, seeing all the happy faces around me, I'm sure many left on a high and, like me, will go and see him again.
Astley is not just another singer with a great voice, he is a true showman. With his friendly, easy-going nature, he engages with the crowd through constant humour, banter, self-deprecation and a sense of fun. His affable personality endears him to many. Having seen two of his shows in recent times, I can say that I am now a fan of the artist and his work rather than just someone who liked the hits back then. He delivers a performance that not only takes you down memory lane but ensures new memories are created and everyone has a bloody good time! These are the reasons, I believe, the fans are 'Never Gonna Give You Up' Rick Astley!
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by Anna Bartle (Rockchique Photography)