It has taken 30 years to transform Rick Astley’s public profile from cheesy pop starlet to his current balancing act on the borderline between guilty pleasure and national treasure but now the Olly Murs of his day has a bona fide career revival on his hands, one which can stand independently of any 80s nostalgia package tour.
Rick Astley, Armadillo, Glasgow ***
With a number one album to celebrate his half-century and a top ten follow-up, Astley has reinvested in his current live show, over-compensating wildly on all counts with an expensive. blinding lightshow, needlessly loud bass and Astley himself whooping it up to shouty levels. The production values were somewhat at odds with his working men’s club entertainer persona but fair play to Astley – the combination of his early hits as the golden boy of the Stock Aitken Waterman stable and his comic banter kept his happy audience on side and on their feet for much of this two-hour marathon.
There were surprises around every corner, not least a bizarre mash-up of his 1988 hit She Wants to Dance With Me and Daft Punk’s Harder Better Faster Stronger, complete with vocoder vocal effects, and the ostentatious use of a gong on The Good Old Days, a new song paying tribute to his older siblings’ prog rock record collections.
Perhaps giddy from the power, the reception or the Jagermeister shots, Astley then all but killed the jolly momentum by jamming out Never Gonna Give You Up with protracted band introductions and cabaret diversions into Queen and Barry Manilow numbers. - Fiona Shepherd