EIGHTIES icon Rick Astley made his way to Manchester on Wednesday evening (June 6) as he performed at the O2 Ritz on Oxford Road. Quays News entertainment reporter Daniel Willis was fortunate enough to bag himself a spot at the show of one of the nation’s guilty pleasures…

The ‘Never Gonna Give You Up‘ star made his way to Manchester to perform the penultimate gig of his UK summer tour to a sell-out audience.

The night began at a surprisingly late 8:45pm when Astley made his way to the stage after a short delay – but as expected the beloved northern native received a raucous welcome when he finally made his way to the stage.

Astley opened his set with one of his newer tracks from ’50’, his recently released album, called ‘This Old House’.

This really didn’t seem to work for an opening track – his idea to play a new somg which some of his more casual fans may not have heard of led to a very mixed response from the audience.

He quickly made up for it, though, as his second song of the night was one he released all the way back in 1988 – ‘Together Forever’ warmed the hearts of his loyal followers and got the fairly older audience moving, and it earned one of the best responses of the entire night.

My own personal favourite of the night had to be when the 80s star played ‘When I Fall In Love’; a true ballad which sounded perfect when sung live by Astley.

It brought down the noise of the audience, along with the lights, to create a lovely soft atmosphere in the Ritz venue.

Keep Singing’ another new hit off his ‘50’ EP followed, before ‘She Wants To Dance With Me’  returned the audience to its usual energetic self – and it was easy to tell it was rubbing off well on Astley, as his performance got ever more enthusiastic.

Following this was a couple of cover tracks which both went surprisingly well – first he played Jess Glynne and Clean Bandit’s ‘Rather Be‘ then Mark Ronson and Bruno Mars’ infamous ‘Uptown Funk‘ which was arguably a bit out of place for Rick Astley, but he did well to attempt to make it his own.

A release from ‘50‘ called ‘Angels On My Side’ has been one of his most successful tracks on his newest album, gathering over 850,000 views online since its release.

This hit was clearly very catchy from the get-go and managed to maintain the audience throughout, and Astley even did an encore after the song – because the audience enjoyed it that much.

Another cover hit featured during his set with Rihanna’s ‘We Found Love‘ which without mincing words, was pretty awful.

The whole theme of the track was brought down by Astley’s quite melancholic voice – sorry Rick, you could of picked a much better track here.

After exiting the stage following the Rihanna debacle, claiming it was his last song – everyone knew it wasn’t – Astley slowly returned to the stage with his backing singers and drummer and performed the hit that every person inside the O2 Ritz had been waiting for.

Never Gonna Give You Up‘ concluded proceedings, for what overall, was a very pleasing performance by Mr Rick Astley.

By Daniel Willis

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