On this, the penultimate night of Adele’s sold out Great Britain and Ireland 22-date tour, the biggest artist in the world proves to be well worth the agonising four year wait, with the biggest tour of the year.
As a pair of closed, mascara-clad eyes dominate the O2 Arena stage, the moody opening piano chords signal the obvious opener, ‘Hello’. The eyes flash open and the woman that emerges on a separate stage in the centre of the O2 Arena, stunning in a sparkling sequined gown, is a far cry from the fresh-faced chav that rose to fame at just 19. Madonna, Prince, Bono and Akon are all one-named greats that have conquered the O2 Arena and Adele certainly fits that bill roaring through her colossal comeback single, proceeding to say ‘Hello’ to each and every other side of the audience. The Londoner, on home turf, follows with ‘Hometown Glory’, penned at just 16, before ‘One and Only’ from ‘21’. Writing this as a hopeful 21 year old, the same age Adele wrote the multi-Grammy award winning, best-selling album of the past 15 years it’s hard not to feel like I’ve underachieved compared to her.
As the star bursts into ‘Rumour Has It’, it is clear that unlike Beyonce, Adele doesn’t need 8 costume changes. Unlike Miley Cyrus, Adele opts for class over twerking-trash. Unlike Taylor Swift, Adele has her ego in check. Unlike Katy Perry, Adele’s music actually means something. You pay (albeit a lot) for the voice and boy do you hear it. No gimmicks needed. The voice is just as impressive, if not more so, as on record. Despite 20,000 plus in attendance, it feels just as intimate as being in a local pub. It is clear that Adele is both the most talented export this country has seen since the late Amy Winehouse. But unlike Amy Winehouse, there is no risk of Adele following the same fate, as she sips a honey mixture from a mug this evening.
The record smashing ‘25’ is expectedly well showcased with faultless renditions of ‘Sweetest Devotion’, ‘Water Under The Bridge’, ‘Send My Love (To Your New Lover)’ and ‘Million Years Ago’. ‘19’ and ‘21’ get decent plays much to the relief of the crowd, as does the Oscar-winning, Bond-theme ‘Skyfall’. A stripped back ‘Don’t You Remember’ performed with her guitarist, double bassist and drummer stands out even though Adele warns that she may burp when hitting the high, climaxing note. It must be said, that an Adele burp is probably more tuneful than my best effort to sing along.
Her songs have the heart-wrenching edge of a Hugh Grant film, while her performance has the street swag of Missy Elliott combined with the grace and poise of Etta James. However, her mid-song chats are anything but elegant. An Adele gig has as many expletives as a Tarentino film. She also deems it necessary to announce that she no longer requires Imodium to prevent her getting the sh*ts before gigs. She also thanks everyone for coming, even those who were dragged along by their other halves, guaranteeing that they will get laid as a result. If Adele happened to wake up one day, devoid of her angelic voice, at least she could fall back on a stand-up comedy career.
The superlative ‘Someone Like You’ is as wonderful as expected, without carrying quite the same emotional punch as it did when her performance five years ago on the same stage at the Brit awards propelled her to superstardom. Famously about a now red-faced ex, maybe her next album will be an ode to her current, possibly neglected husband, as most of the songs played are introduced as being about the lover who spurned her. Maybe she will reinvent herself after what I will dub the ‘tearful trilogy’: ‘19’, ‘21’ and ‘25’. Maybe she will venture into other genres: hip-hop, dubstep or heavy metal? We will have to see.
The star provided light-hearted relief between the onslaught of heart-wrenching numbers, taking a moment to pose for what some may call unflattering ‘Adelefies’, (Adele selfies for those not in with the lingo). By the time she ‘Set Fire To The Rain’ I was more than convinced by Adele’s Glastonbury headlining credentials. With more charisma in her little finger than Coldplay’s Chris Martin, as well as being from this planet in contrast to Muse’s Matt Bellamy, I have no doubt that Adele will steal the show in front of 100,000 mud-covered Glastonbury-goers.
I should probably keep this review balanced so here are a few negatives from the night:
Adele encouraged a mass sing along during ‘Chasing Pavements’, but one couldn’t help but feel ripped off. People had paid a lot of money to her Adele sing, not to hear a half-drunken crowd blurt out ‘Should I give up or should I just keep chasing pavements…’. Her exquisite cover of Bob Dylan’s ‘Make You Feel My Love’ saw the arena lit up by mobile phone lights. Forget the fact that it was absolutely beautiful; it was a criminal waste of phone battery. She even stopped to give tickets to a fellow in the crowd from Kansas for a gig in the US. The negative here is this is just plain unfair. And anyone expecting to mosh along to an Adele love song would have been mightily disappointed. Okay, perhaps I’m just clutching at straws from an otherwise perfect performance.
Adele begins her encore with ‘All I Ask’. This is followed by what the Londoner regards as the crown jewel, the ‘Someone Like You’ of 25: ‘When We Were Young’. The number is accompanied by sweet pictures of a pre-superstardom, cheeky, gap-toothed Adele Adkins, back when the only thing she had to worry about was what flavour ice-cream to get, not how to follow up the ‘Greatest Billboard 200 Album of All Time’, performing in front of tens of thousands of fans combined with raising a child. ‘Rolling In The Deep’ proves to be a grand finale, even bringing my crippled, walking-stick sporting father to his feet. He too, like everyone fortunate enough to get tickets for this special concert was utterly mesmerised by a ready-made British musical legend.