Review/Photos by Graham Finney
Rick Astley looks genuinely moved when somebody shouts out from the crowd for him to “sing us a new song” because, up until now, you’ve always got the impression that, no matter how good his new material is, like most acts of his era who have got a second chance, it’s the classics everybody wants to hear. However, regardless of which “Astley”-era material fans wanted to hear, given that the singer grew up just a few miles from Haydock Racecourse, this was always going to be a special night.
With family and friends packed in with racegoers and even a visit from Pete Waterman, a man partly responsible for the Newton-le-Willows singer becoming an ’80s sensation, this Saturday night at the races was always going to be bouncing. Despite a few technical difficulties early on in the set, Astley took them in his stride with “Together Forever” the first of his 80s hits to get the crowd singing. Happy to mix old songs with new, Astley continued with a few interesting covers including “Shotgun” by George Ezra and “Highway To Hell” by AC/DC – interesting choices but ones that kept the crowd singing along.
As expected “Never Gonna Give You Up”, that hit single, brought the night to a glorious climax complete with an appearance from the aforementioned Waterman and, as Rick left the stage, the noise from the crowd that was ringing out behind him surely had him smiling in the knowledge that although, in his words, he’s becoming a “Southern softie”, these fans will never let him forget where his home is.