One of the music industry’s most distinct voices, Rick Astley has certainly had his fair share of ups and downs in his time.
A tumultuous childhood turned into an ardent love for music, Astley quickly became a household name in the late '80s thanks to the success of his hit song ‘Never Gonna Give You Up’. Reaching #1 in 25 countries and awarded the 1988 Brit Award for Best British Single, by the time Astley semi-retired at 27 years old in 1993, he’d sold around 40 million records across the globe.
Despite a discography boasting eight studio albums (the most recent being 2018’s 'Beautiful Life'), twelve compilation albums, and two remix albums, it was 2007 viral internet meme 'Rickrolling' that put Astley on the radar for younger generations – there’s even a Wikipedia page dedicated to the act – but it’s not something he likes to talk about these days. “I don’t want people to think I’m reliving ‘Never Gonna Give You Up’ because of the Rickrolling thing,” Astley said in a 2018 interview with Smashing Interviews – and rightly so.
Internet memes aside, Rick Astley is best known as one of the biggest names in '80s pop. An illustrious career spanning more than 30 years, Astley is still around to sell his music and not his meme.
That classic banger aside, let’s not forget the voluptuous output of music Astley has tackled in his time. From the rollicking synth beats of ‘Together Forever’, the sensual lull of the piano in ‘Cry For Help’, to the powerful ‘Angels On My Side’, a single which, though quintessentially Rick Astley, sees him deliver a far more commanding tone and carry his maturity in a timbre that, frankly, could give some of today’s singer-songwriter whippersnappers a lesson or two.
Astley’s latest single, a cover of Rag ‘N’ Bone Man’s ‘Giant’ does what it says it says on the tin. A little funk, a little grit, and a whole lot of soul, you’d be forgiven for thinking Astley had written the thing himself.
That power, passion and ingenuity, of course, can be heard in last year’s release, 'Beautiful Life'. The Independent called the album 'an inoffensive bag of tricks', while The Times highlighted the abundance of catchy songs that were encouraging positivity.
Even before that, 2016’s album '50' was called clever and soulful, Astley’s return to music marked as a moment that the pop icon proved himself unfeasibly intact even at the ripe old age for which he named his release.
Ultimately, '50' became Astley’s first UK #1 album since his 1987 debut. Modesty, they say, maketh the man, and in perhaps a slight shadowing of his renowned tendency for shyness early in his career, Astley told Cotswold Life last year: “Luck plays a big part in someone’s musical career, that’s for sure.”
“The reception to ['50'] was great, especially in the UK,” Astley told the Yorkshire Post in his native county, “and I think that, and playing those songs live, has given me a bit of confidence to realise that even though I’m older, and obviously a lot of the audience is, they still want to dance sometimes and they still want to listen to music that feels like it can be played on the radio today.”
Still surprising at every turn, still exploring his creative potential, such is Astley’s longevity you might almost say that fans will never give him up, pun intended. More than 30 years since his very first Australian tour, Astley will once again take to our stages to relive the power and excitement of '80s pop when he appears alongside Norwegian sensations a-ha as their very special guest in February next year. a-ha, likely Norway’s most well-known music export, are themselves no strangers to being riveting influences in music. They too dominated the charts in the '80s with their classic ‘Take On Me’, and have sold more than 55 million albums to date, regularly performing at stadiums and festivals.
It’s looking like this tour will be nights for reliving the glitz and glamour of the '80s (no one will judge if you rock up with an epic whale spout and shoulder pads), but also an opportunity to be a part of an historical performance – how many of us can say we were there, back in the day, when music history was being made? “When I go to see a band,” Astley said in his Smashing Interview chat, “I really like and I’ve liked for 25 years, it moves me when they do a certain song because it makes me almost feel like I’m 25 again, and I can relate to that when I’m on stage kind of fulfilling that for someone else.
“Even if it’s just for an hour or whatever, it just transports you to a different point in your life, and I think that’s what music can sometimes do.”
Rick Astley – appreciate the man, not the meme.
A DAY ON THE GREEN Tour Dates
Wed 19 Feb - Kings Park & Botanic Garden (Perth) Sat 22 Feb - Rochford Wines (Yarra Valley) Sat 29 Feb - Bimbadgen (Hunter Valley) Sun 1 Mar - Sirromet Wines (Brisbane)
a-ha With Rick Astley Headline Show Dates
Sun 23 Feb - Margaret Court Arena (Melbourne) Wed 26 Feb - ICC Sydney Theatre