Rick Astley – Live Review – Royal Albert Hall
By Rachel Crow, December 2022
Picture the scene. It’s -4°C outside, I’ve just spent an age de-icing the car and I’m heading for the local train station in the midst of a national rail strike. Sounds crazy I know, but I have a very important date with 80’s pop icon Rick Astley at the Royal Albert Hall and nothing is going to ruin my girlie weekend.
True to their word Hull Trains have provided a replacement taxi service and I’m soon on my way to Doncaster station, some 30 minutes away, to meet my connection to King’s Cross. The rest of the journey goes smoothly and I’m in the capital by lunchtime ready for the night ahead.
As a seasoned concert goer, for me there is no more magical venue than the Royal Albert Hall and that’s especially true at Christmas. Beautifully decorated trees stand proud in the foyer and on stage, there are festive adornments above doors and a real buzz in the air.
Being Christmas, my friend and I decide to treat ourselves to the VIP package which includes a fine dining experience in the Coda restaurant. The food is beautifully presented and cooked to perfection, but the whole experience feels a little rushed. Despite having different arrival times everyone is held in a queue, which snakes outside into the freezing night air, until the restaurant is ready to open.
Once seated we have to wait some time for any service and when it does come I’m more than a little disappointed to discover my dietary requirements have not been passed to the chef. After some (very public) discussion about why I can’t eat certain foods, the only thing chef can come up with at short notice is roasted tomato and courgette stuffed with rice. And as we’re mid-dessert there’s an announcement informing us the show will start in just five minutes, cue lots of panicked diners making a quick exit.
The disappointment of dinner aside, it’s a breath-taking show as Rick, a dashing figure in his black tuxedo and bow tie, effortlessly makes his way through a string of swing and Christmas tunes accompanied by a full orchestra plus his usual band and backing singers.
“Long held dream”
Renditions of ‘Come Fly With Me’, ‘Strangers In The Night’ and ‘Fly Me To The Moon’ leave me lost for words, ol’ blue eyes himself couldn’t have done a better job. While festive favourites like ‘Santa Claus Is Coming To Town’ and ‘Let It Snow, Let It Snow, Let It Snow’ see the audience in fine voice. And there’s even time for Rick’s own seasonal offering ‘Love This Christmas’. But for me it’s Rodgers and Hammerstein’s ‘Some Enchanted Evenin’g that steals the show and my heart as I find myself fighting back the tears while Rick quips ‘it nearly kills me every time!’.
Two hours of world-class entertainment pass by in the blink of an eye, the illuminated sign at the back of the stage a constant reminder that this is ‘Christmas at the Royal Albert Hall’. But to Rick it is so much more, a long held dream has finally been realised, and it’s evident in every note.
There are so many touching, emotional moments in this show, it was an honour to watch an artist at the top of his game really enjoying his craft.
Closing with ‘White Christmas’ proved to be the perfect end to a perfect show and proof, if it were needed, that when you are as versatile as Mr Astley, fans are indeed Never Gonna Give You Up.
Rick Astley’s Swinging Christmas was a limited run of just three dates for Christmas 2022, but given the audience reaction let’s hope it gets a reprise next year.