Meet the team behind Rick Astley’s Are We There Yet? Tour

Back by popular demand, Rick Astley and his hard-working touring team descend on arenas with a timeless production, featuring a kaleidoscope of colour, crowd-sourced teddy bears, and two hours of unabashed showmanship.

As the LED backwall lowered gently and the house lights dimmed, the guitar-clad figure of Merseyside-born singer-songwriter Rick Astley, backed by an impressive collection of vocalists and musicians, took to the stage at Liverpool’s M&S Bank Arena for the touring equivalent of a guard of honour on this final night of the run. Met with the usual chorus of screams and cheers, the evening was special for the those on and off stage, having successfully masterminded a series of shows across the UK and Ireland, and fundamentally answered the tour’s self-imposed question: Are we there yet?

Production Manager, Tori Lucion of 24/7 Productions – who has been with the Rick Astley camp since 2017’s 50 Tour of theatres and pavilions around the UK – believes the singer-songwriter’s recent shows are “bigger and better” than ever. “I was initially employed as a Drum and Playback Tech. The gig has grown significantly in recent years, and as the campaign topped the charts, we made the jump up from touring backline in the back of splitter vans to carrying systems and rigs that require trucks. The crew and band have also grown, so the shows are getting bigger and better,” he explained.

“The creative goal as presented by Rick and management this time around was to have Rick and the band scaled up as large as possible on the screen, following on from the success of his Glastonbury performance and a great festival run, which culminated with BBC’s Rick Astley Rocks New Year’s Eve,” Lucion recalled. “I think 2023 caught a lot of people by surprise in terms of the level of performer that Rick is and how well he comes across on camera as a showman, which is crafted through years of his own hard graft, so it made sense to present that to the audience as best as we can.”

The team shifted their focus away from premade visuals and utilised bespoke video content created by Pixels & Noise and through detailed collaboration on architectural layouts, colour grading and aspect ratios with Rick and Manager, Lene Bausager. A template was formulated for each song, which allowed Video Director, Jamie Cowlin to work his magic – masterfully cutting and directing eight cameras pointed at the stage with some reverse shots thrown in for good measure – while Lighting Designer, Ali Pike programmed and synchronised the visuals.

“Lewis, Jamie and Ali put a lot of work in to getting this show up and running from a creative point of view, seamlessly combining the editorial and tailored video elements with the classy yet vintage lighting feel,” Lucion said, extending his praise to the support of 24/7 Productions (production and tour direction), Adlib (audio, lighting, rigging and video), Bite Tour Catering, CSE Crosscom (communications), Fly By Nite (trucking), Phoenix Bussing (crew travel), Pixels & Noise (video content), and triplex (audio control).

Words: Jacob Waite

Photos: Oli Crump