More than 750,000 tickets have been sold for the tour
1980s pop star Rick Astley was a surprise guest at the Manchester MEN Arena on the first night of Peter Kay's sold-out tour.
Astley, 44, played hits including Never Gonna Give You Up as well as a medley of songs by Manchester bands, including The Smiths.
Kay said on his website that the "amazing" Astley "went down a storm".
The 36-year-old comedian has returned to touring after seven years for his The Tour That Doesn't Tour Tour.
Astley will also open the show for the further 19 dates Kay will play in Manchester between now and 22 May.
"The morning after the first night before - well I'm speechless and if the rest of the tour is anything like last night it is going to be an unbelievable journey," Kay said.
"I'd just like to thank everybody who came or is coming to see the show, it wouldn't be possible without you - well it would but I'd just be stood there on my own."
Simon Donohue, writing in the Manchester Evening News, praised "the familiar and nostalgic observations of ordinary life which make Kay so endearing for so many".
"Nan, we were told, had been asking her grandson about modern curios such as Facetube and a film called 'abattoir'," he added, saying "fans won't be disappointed".
Comedy website Chortle, meanwhile, described Peter Kay as "a great entertainer but a mediocre comic".
"After seven years away, he's back with the same brand of straightforward home-spun observations he's always peddled, although they didn't seem to make quite the same connection with the audience as they once did," it added.
Kay had originally said he planned to perform only in Manchester, saying "I don't want to be away from home", but changed his mind.
The tour - which will reportedly gross an estimated £26m in ticket sales - will take in venues including London's O2, the Glasgow SECC and the Sheffield Arena.
More than 750,000 tickets have been sold.
The tour will conclude with a further 10 nights at the MEN in October 2011.