Adele review – a truly singular blend of talent and Tottenham charm | Adele
ADele’s opening line, “Hello, it’s me, I was wondering if after all these years you’d like to meet me,” carries extra weight tonight. It’s been five years to the day since the singer canceled two shows at Wembley Stadium due to damaged vocal cords and withdrew from the public eye. It’s her first sold-out public gig anywhere in the world since then, so she’s not taking anything for granted. When 65,000 people sing the chorus of Someone Like You, there’s a real possibility she’ll burst into a puddle of tears. “You looked so damn adorable,” she said.
Adele remains a unique proposition: a torch singer who specializes in heart-rending ballads (“I don’t have many uptempo bangers”) but chitchat among themselves like a beloved family friend who always brings some wine. You might imagine that five more years in Los Angeles and a diversion to old Hollywood glamor had changed her to some degree. As the show begins, everything looks golden, her hair and jewelry resonating with the stage set and the evening sunlight. But as soon as she starts talking, it’s like she never left Tottenham. She talks about Billie Eilish, Stranger Things, sciatica and forgetting lyrics, offers to buy an 18-year-old fan a birthday drink, and swears excitedly. “My son is here tonight,” she said, “so cover your ears, baby.”
Compared to Adele’s last tour, this production has more class than flash. There are simple but effective visual patterns on high definition screens and, towards the end, the classic troika of confetti, flames and fireworks, but most of the time the main visual spectacle is the face of Adele. Her records give no indication of the pleasure she has on stage. There are times when she rolls her eyes or sticks her tongue out like a tipsy fan rather than a performer, finding pockets of hilarity in songs that seem to offer none. She talks about playing “a good old set” and calls Send My Love (To Your New Lover) “a small frame”.
All that easygoing and self-deprecating means his vocal artistry sometimes hits like an ambush: the barn roar of Rolling in the Deep, the Bond melodrama of Skyfall, the perfectly mastered tenderness of Make You Feel My Love. One minute she’s tucking her microphone into her cleavage and throwing T-shirts at the audience; the next day, she’s waist-deep in her divorce on Easy on Me. Fans may be used to this unusual dichotomy by now — imagine if Aretha Franklin had been a regular on EastEnders — but it takes an exceptional combination of charm and talent to achieve it.
For two hours, a dizzying party spirit sweeps across Hyde Park. Somewhere in the crowd, a woman alternates between shivering and sobbing and brandishing a bottle of wine as if it were a microphone. This is the Adele experience.