Plus Special Guests: Scouting For Girls
It’s been 36 years since he first shot to fame, yet Rick Astley is now arguably a more prominent force in popular culture than he ever was. The endearingly boyish 57-year-old is still winning over new fans, whether he’s performing with Foo Fighters, Take That or Blossoms; becoming an unlikely social media sensation; or simply embracing the unending love that greets his era-defining smash ‘Never Gonna Give You Up’ which was boosted by its use in an intensely affecting scene in ‘Ted Lasso’. Indeed, since returning to #1 in 2016 with ‘50’, Rick has enjoyed the strongest run of album chart positions of his entire career.
Rick has announced his highly anticipated return to Ireland with a date at 3Arena on 5 March 2024, joined by very special guests Scouting For Girls.
It’s been the journey of a lifetime, yet the road ahead of him remains open for further exploration - the next stop being the release of his long awaited ninth studio album ‘Are We There Yet?’ on October 6th. Rick launches the album alongside its first single, ‘Dippin My Feet’, and announces details of headline tour dates.
‘Are We There Yet?’ is the sound of Rick reflecting and building upon the experiences he’s gone through since the release of 2018’s ‘Beautiful Life’. Some of the new songs were started during lockdown in 2020, but he decided to leave them deliberately unfinished until it was feasible to play them live again. A simple, unadorned piano ballad ‘Blue Sky’ speaks of the natural serenity that came from lockdown, but it’s a set that draws upon an eclectic array of inspirations.
Some are the result of the invigoration that Rick has enjoyed while celebrating the music of The Smiths during life-affirming shows with Blossoms. Others came from his huge sold-out North American arena tour with New Kids On The Block, Salt ‘N’ Pepa and En Vogue. Between shows, Rick would often gaze at the seemingly infinite roads ahead of him and think, ‘Are We There Yet?’.
Rick says, “Now, that phrase has multiple meanings. Are we there yet in my musical ambitions? Am I done with my career? Have we arrived? Or are we still travelling?”
The time that Rick spent in America’s heartland together with his lifelong love of soul stalwarts Bill Withers, Al Green and Marvin Gaye also informed the new album. It’s particularly prominent in ‘Dippin My Feet’, which puts an invigorating twist on Rick’s signature style. Rich with scorching, mid-summer vibes, the song sees Rick putting his own feelgood spin on both the Memphis soul tradition and Stax Records’ old school R&B. The song has just received its first play from Zoe Ball at Radio 2.
Rick adds, “It’s not Americana, but the tag-line at the start of the chorus is: ‘Dipping my feet in the Mississippi River…’ It’s definitely not country, but I’ve never twanged a guitar as much as I have in the past couple of months. And there’s a bit more emotion with those guitar parts. I just think spending five months in America has retuned my ear a little bit.”
As with ‘50’ and ‘Beautiful Life’, the album was entirely written, recorded and produced by Rick at his home studio in south-west London. He performed almost everything you hear throughout the record, the only exceptions being brass, keyboards and some backing vocals. As a result, ‘Are We There Yet?’ shows that Rick is still pushing to reach even greater musical heights, in the process guaranteeing entertainment and joy on record, on stream, on radio and on stage.
‘Are We There Yet?’ is available to pre-order HERE. In addition to its digital release, physical formats include a CD, a CD with a signed postcard, and a coloured vinyl. Rick’s official store offers exclusive products such as a vinyl picture disc, a deluxe CD and a cassette. There is also a CD with an alternative colour sleeve, which will be stocked exclusively by HMV.