Friday, August 08, 2008
Concert Review: Rick Astley Live at the Araneta Coliseum
Hopelessly crying for help whenever you need a strong strong man who will never let you down... (whew...!)
For some odd reason, many find the concept of a Rick Astley concert snicker-worthy. (and I don’t mean the candy bar.) But my skin is pretty damn thick. I begged for tickets for the August 1 one-night concert, got them, got fucking rick-rolled, and had a good time. Faggot jokes be damned!
Now despite my personally horrendous attempts at any semblance of dancing, I will joyfully admit to being a regular at the Hyatt Terraces’ Gold Mine disco back in the eighties. Prior to the earthquake, the Gold Mine was the “place” place, if you get what I mean. And I had my fill of Rick Astley, Basia, and a few other eighties staples. Thus, the Astley concert was truly a throwback to good old times.
The concert was supposedly scheduled at 8pm. But in typical Pinoy fashion, Mr. Astley showed up at 9:30 amidst chants of “Ro-De-Rick…” (referring to Dick Paulate, the self-proclaimed “Rick Astley of the Philippines,” who apparently WAS in the house…)
Now most acts or artists will have a nice set list, with their hits sprinkled in paces to keep the show’s excitement up. So it says quite a bit about Mr. Astley when he can come up with a full set list of hit songs sprinkled with a couple or so relatively minor songs.
There was a serviceable front act from Bacolod, who had a not-so-star-looking bass player who had a much better voice than the lead singer who unfortunately looked better than him. And they had a supposed guest singer lady who probably didn’t sound so bad if got past the ridiculous a-gogo dancer outfit that had places where tits were supposed to be…
"...every song selection felt like a comfortable pair of old shoes. Old shoes that may stink a bit if you get close enough to sniff them, but you’d pull them on anyways..."
Mr. Astley swaggers out with his stiff dancing and kicks off the real show with his second number one hit, “Together Forever.” He then followed right through with the slightly smaller hit “A Strong Strong Man,” where he flubbed the timing into the last chorus, then shut up for the rest of the song to try and regain his bearings (and probably his dignity). In full acknowledgement, Mr. Astley makes a joke about jetlag.
As expected, one does not find three-minute spells of familiarity throughout the concert since almost all of the songs are familiar to the rather aging audience (present company included), and every song selection felt like a comfortable pair of old shoes. Old shoes that may stink a bit if you get close enough to sniff them, but you’d pull them on anyways, be thankful your feet don’t have noses and be off.
All the cynics can laugh all they want, but I’ll take Rick Astley’s handful of certified hits, and less than a dozen or so smaller hits than pityingly yawning through a concert where Keith Martin’s singular hit “Because of You” had to be stretched to fill in almost 15 minutes. Or cringingly brave through 10 minutes of Jimmy Bondoc’s ridiculous pseudo-soulful gritting and eventual massacre of his one legitimate hit “Let Me Be The One,” which I actually like on a musical level if he didn’t have to howl through it like an over-excited hyena pretending to be serious...
"...then there he was back on stage… RODERICK FUCKING PAULATE… the has-been who always was an almost-was, but for all his over-modulated singing, never really got past the fag-in-the-closet reputation he had..."
Other numbers performed on the earlier half were (in sequence): “When I Fall in Love,” “The Love Has Gone,” “She Wants to Dance With Me,” and “Don’t Say Goodbye Girl.”
At first, I noticed a very slight reduction in the brilliance of Rick’s trademark baritone on the first few songs, and simply attributed it to age. Then he warmed into his self-penned “Hold Me in Your Arms,” where he dished out a lot of heart and did his darnedest best to sound just like the record with a few curls here and there if only to remind us that it was a live performance. Screw age, this one he sang from the heart, and damn, he sounded good as ever…
Ole’ Rick then grooves into the minor hit “Everytime,” steps things back up with “Take Me to Your Heart,” (where he went all amnesiac on the lyrics yet again… Rick invites the crowd to fill in the church choir parts in “Cry For Help.” Following that up with the ballad “Hopelessly,” his cover of the Motown classic “Ain’t too Proud to Beg,” then “My Arms Keep Missing You,” where he invited a member of the audience to sing karaoke with him, then supposedly finishing up the show with “Whenever You Need Somebody.”
Now after hinting about a supposedly special guest somewhere at the early part of the show, Mr. Astley finally drops the bomb on the crowd almost halfway into his list. Declaring “Roderick, I have six more songs, then you’re up!”
Obviously, there was going to be an encore. I mean, Rick obviously wouldn’t “let us down,” right? If you’ve read this far into this boring entry, you will notice that I haven’t mentioned Rick’s first and biggest hit, which also spawned “rick-rolling.”
Then there he was back on stage… RODERICK FUCKING PAULATE… the has-been who always was an almost-was, but for all his over-modulated singing, never really got past the fag-in-the-closet reputation he had. But hey, I’ve always heard Dick’s a nice guy/gay. A nice fellow people didn’t say anything bad about, except for the fact that he used to really profess to being a straight man… yeah… sure…
So there he was on stage, and Rick Astley gamely picks up a guitar and plays alongside him, while marveling at how Dick remembered the words so well. Even exclaiming at some point that Roderick “should’ve been up [there] all night!”
I took my own video, but a lot of other better videos are around to document this…uh… major… err… event… here’s a “good” copy…
Good thing, Rick did his biggest song again with the band and himself at the mic. And no, the concert “didn’t let me down” at all…