by John Strange

Rick Astley arrived at the BIC on Friday at the mid-point of his huge UK tour in support of his Best of Me greatest hits album.

This tour extends into the US throughout the first half of 2022, even taking in Las Vegas. This is a far cry from the shy lad performing on Top of the Pops in the 80s and displays what an International Star Rick has become. Performing in sold-out UK arenas is certainly a massive step up from the theatre circuit.

I have somehow missed seeing Rick on previous tours and was wondering what the show would bring. I needn’t have worried, because Rick put on a show as if he was one of the old-style entertainment legends, which he will surely be himself one day. It would have been easy to simply churn out the radio hits, but that is simply not Rick’s style.

He opened with a snippet of an acapella Never Gonna Give You Up as a tease for what was to come. By the third song,1987’s Together Forever, the whole audience were on their feet and in the aisles singing along.

Before the show I was chatting to a guy sitting in the front row with hs wife and two daughters who had been ‘persuaded’ to come along. I later saw him up on his feet dad dancing along with the rest of his family.

There are so many radio-friendly songs which maybe I couldn’t have named before, but I certainly remembered when he sang them. This Old House showed just how soulful and powerful Ricks voice is. And he has really perfected his craft as far as stage presence and audience participation. He was on the move the whole time dancing, strutting, walking and posing as the music demanded. He chatted amiably in between songs, and had plenty of eye contact with the front rows of the audience.

Rick also showed his serious side and showcased his voice in relaxed style. I admired his ability to switch from a soulful upbeat Temptations cover (Ain’t Too Proud To Beg) to the old crooner When I fall in Love, with his own interpretation of that Nat King Cole classic. Cry for Help was my personal highlight though, with the crowd swaying, singing along and holding phone lights aloft.

The whole show was excellent from start to finish, with a superb sound system and light show which was in tune with Rick's singing, whether it needed to be subtle, or to mesmerise, but it certainly did not overpower his performance.

The huge backstage screen and two side video screens ensured everyone could see every expression from the man with the golden voice! Try, which was self-penned, closed the main set and once again proved to be a fitting show for Rick’s wonderful voice, building up into a truly powerful rock song.

The totally awestruck and enthusiastic audience demanded an encore and Rick gave them exactly what was wanted. Angels On My Side was a real rocking arena-anthem, but predictably and with the audience almost begging for it, Rick closed the show with Never Gonna Give You Up, with the fans almost deafening me with their singing. During the song, he introduced all the members of his band, who each performed a mini-solo, with the guitarist playing We Will Rock You in true Brian May style.

There is a mantra which states "always leave your audience wanting more", but in this case Rick gave them his all and judging by the smiles and chatter on the way out, everyone had what they wanted and more. From never having seen Rick before, I am now a total convert and cannot wait until next time!