Photos by: Tyler Roberts –
Review by: Adam Harrison –
Toronto’s Opera House was rick-rolled last night as 80s British pop star Rick Astley continued his world tour in support of his newest album, 50, appropriately named after his age at release in 2016. Astley should write a book about his diet or Pilates routine because he looks and sounds at least 15-years younger.
He opened his 90-minute set with “This Old House” from 50, then quickly transitioned into his other chart topper “Together Forever.” A sea of phones illuminated the internet phenomenon as the crowd of mostly baby boomers dusted off their dancing shoes. “You’re welcome to dance.” Astley joked, “You’ll notice that I just like to shuffle and point at people.”
Astley’s vocals were in prime shape, but perhaps the most pleasant surprise was his witty sense of humour. Which often comes with being British. “We’re going to play some new songs. Some of you will take the opportunity to go to the bathroom now. I know this fact already.”
Before performing “Hopelessly,” Astley mentioned the last time he sang this was in the Philippines. Two ladies in the front row began to scream to which Astley responded, “Oh, where are you from? Let me guess… Vancouver?” He then commented, “You’re so lucky in Canada. You have the best bits of Britain and America. I bet you can’t wait to build a wall…” He digressed, “I can hear my Mum in my ear now, ‘Stop it Richard, get on with the pop music!’”
Astley likes to throw a few cover songs into his set because it reminds him of his childhood and the reason he started singing in the first place. “We’re going to butcher, I mean really kick the shit out of Ed Sheeran,” he joked before covering “Shape of You.”
Astley was recently challenged via YouTube by a Toronto choir to join them in a sing-a-long. In response, Astley brought a portion of the choir up on stage during the encore to sing a stripped down version of “Never Gonna Give You Up.” Although this was fun and entertaining, the fans began to look at each other wondering if they would hear the mega hit in the way they know and love it. So when Astley asked “Should we do it for real now?” He received the biggest pop of the entire night.
During the bridge of this blockbuster, Astley introduced his four-piece band and two beautiful backup singers. However as he reached his guitarist Adam Evans, he stopped the song short, claiming he felt bad for Fensome’s lack of opportunity to go wild. “Let’s play some AC/DC!” Asltey exclaimed before hopping on the drums and ending the night on a cover of “Highway to Hell.”
During the set, Astley proclaimed that he fell in love with singing again about ten years ago. It was evident last night that Astley was still very much enjoying his career and to his fans he’s more than a one hit wonder.
Check before writing: are you sure it was Ray Fensome on guitar?
Great review, when I was reading it, it felt like I was there, too. Unfortunately, I live far from and I couldn’t attend any of his shows in North America this time. Greeting from Brazil.