Rick Astley and McFly on track to play York Racecourse Music Showcase Weekend

Rick Astley: Biggest favourite of the summer at York Racecourse this season

NEVER gonna give you up, never gonna let you down, and sure enough, Eighties’ pop icon Rick Astley will play the York Racecourse Music Showcase Weekend, albeit a year later than first planned.

Originally booked for July 25 last summer until Covid sent race days behind closed doors, Astley, 55, will take to the stage on July 23 after the Friday evening race card.

Less than 24 hours later, re-formed London boy band McFly will perform the second Music Showcase Weekend concert, post-afternoon racing, on their return to the racetrack where they first played in 2012. Like Astley, they had to forego a 2020 outdoor gig, in their case at Scarborough Open Air Theatre on July 21.

Newton-le-Willows crooner Astley is enjoying a career resurgence on the back of his 50th birthday-triggered album, the self-penned, chart-topping, platinum-selling 50 in 2016, after a decade-long hiatus, followed by Beautiful Life in 2018.

In 2019, he released a career-spanning compilation, The Best Of Me, a top-five success with 11 additional reimagined tracks and new single Every One Of Us. That year too, he undertook a 38-date stadium tour as special guest to Take That, playing to 500,000 people.

Showing his cross-genre appeal, Astley graced Reading Festival’s main stage to sing Never Gonna Give You Up with Dave Grohl’s rock band, Foo Fighters. Just before the pandemic, he toured Australia and New Zealand with a-ha.

Far from quiet during lockdown, he has amassed nearly two million YouTube followers with a series of Lockdown Covers from his home studio and become a major force on TikTok with 1.7 million followers, being selected as one of Louder’s top ten “must follow” artists on the digital platform.

During this time, he has supported the NHS publicly support and has organised free concerts for NHS staff at this October’s upcoming UK arena tour.

His July 23 set will be built around such Astley favourites as Never Gonna Give You Up, Whenever You Need Somebody, Together Forever, When I Fall in Love, She Wants To Dance With Me and Cry For Help. 

McFly: Back on track at York Racecourse this summer after first playing there in 2012

In their early-evening Saturday show, McFly will combine past and present, drawing on songs from their six studio albums.

Last year, after a ten-year gap and a detour into boy-band supergroup McBusted, the familiar McFly line-up of Tom Fletcher, Danny Jones, Dougie Poynter and Harry Judd returned with Young Dumb Thrills, charting at number two.

The singles Happiness, Tonight Is The Night and You’re Not Special received BBC Radio 2  airplay and the band played on Britain’s Got Talent, The Graham Norton Show and and Ant & Dec’s Saturday Night Takeaway, as well as making their own ITV1 documentary about their hiatus, All About Us.

Formed in 2003, McFly became the youngest ever band to have a debut album go straight to number one in the UK, when July 2004’s Room On The 3rd Floor beat The Beatles’ long-standing record, set with Please Please Me in March 1963.

McFly have chalked up seven number one singles and ten million album sales, and their high-energy York Racecourse set could parade 5 Colours In Their Hair, Obviously, That Girl, All About You, You’ve Got A Friend, I’ll Be OK, I Wanna Hold You, Don’t Stop Me Now,  Please, Please, Star Girl, Baby’s Coming Back, Transylvania and One For The Radio.

McFly last played live in November 2019 in a stand-alone show, One Night Only, at the London O2 Arena to mark their re-formation.

Tickets for the Music Showcase Weekend combined racing-and-concert events are on sale at yorkracecourse.co.uk. As well as free car parking, no booking fees apply, but please note, admission is not available on a concert-only basis; the gates will be closed at the time of the last race.

The dates in late-July fall well after the scheduled “Step 4 of the roadmap” on June 21, so York Racecourse is taking a “positive approach to the occasion”.

However, “given both the circumstances and that operating details for large venues are still awaited from Government, racegoers are offered a guaranteed refund in the event of Covid-related alterations, as well as the reassurance that all Covid-19 protocols that are applicable at the time of the event, will be followed,” York Racecourse states.

James Brennan, head of marketing and sponsorship, says: “Everyone at the course is really excited that these magical racing and music events are scheduled to return. With a northern boy set to play, then a band that bring a smile to many faces, add in the spectacle of the racing itself and we hope it will prove a summer weekend to savour.”