Famed for his chart-topping 1987 hit Never Gonna Give You Up, which charted in 25 countries, Rick Astley is back in the spotlight and looking forward to playing in Bents Park, South Shields, on Sunday, July 28, as part of the South Tyneside Summer Festival.
How are you feeling about headlining on Sunday?
“I’m really looking forward to the summer festival – outdoor gigs are always a bit of fun, whether it rains or not.
“When you say headlining I don’t really look at it like that, if you’re on last, you’re on last, and that’s it.
“People have a slightly different attitude when they go to outdoor gigs, it’s more of a festival atmosphere. I still get pumped for a show, it’s an adrenaline rush.”
You began your career under the wing of Pete Waterman of Stock Aitken Waterman and sold more than 40 million records worldwide, a time when you experienced an incredible level of fame. Do you miss it?
“I have very fond memories of Pete, he gave me my break, but I don’t miss the fame – not for a split second.
“I took the decision to quit and walk away, and I say that with a dose of reality to it, it’s almost impossible to sustain my kind of a pop career.
“I didn’t have the energy to keep it going and I didn’t have the interest.”
After turning your back on the charts in 1993, you began touring again after the 2007 internet phenomenon known as “Rickrollin” revived interest in the Never Gonna Give You Up video. How did that that come about?
“Rickrollin and MTV was nothing to do with me. I could have been living in New Zealand and that would have still gone on and that’s the thing about the internet, it’s global and it’s stuff that you can’t control.”
Will there be any new material played on Sunday along with your old classics?
“I might play one or two new songs, but I don’t want to bore people to death. When it’s a big gig like South Tyneside Summer Festival, I’m a realist, people want to hear the songs that they know.”
I can imagine singing the same songs all the time can be a little tiresome. How do you manage that?
“Some gigs do have similarities, but it’s not really about the time on stage, it’s the hanging around backstage that can be a bit boring.
“It’s the fans that make gigs different each night.
“People will shout things to you or wear a T-shirt with something on it and that just changes the dynamic of the night.”
The Christians are also on the bill, are you familiar with them?
“I made tea for The Christians at the Waterman studios, not that they would remember it. It’s a bit bizarre that we are playing the same gig.”
I know the internet helped influence your comeback. Do you wish there was the internet in the 80s?
“I don’t to be honest as it was mad enough then anyway.
“Now it must be crazy for current artists, everything you do or say, is filmed, photographed and on the internet five minutes later.
“We could get really annoyed at something, and unless there was a journalist there, you got away with it.”
What do you make of the comeback culture?
“I think it’s normal We have always had it to some degree, and I think television caters for it, people like to see other people have a car crash on TV.
“But look at Take That, they have done amazingly well, they have done it and managed to do it in their own way, they’ve written great songs, and that is what is what it’s all about.”
* Rick Astley and The Christians play Bents Park in South Shields on Sunday, July 28.
The event, which runs from 1pm-5pm, is free. Visit www.southtyneside.info/summerfestival or Tel. 454 6612.