Adele couldn’t have picked a more interesting time to make her South Australian debut. We’re currently in the throes of our festival season and plonking a massive stadium show in the midst of the madness in the city was only set to add fuel to the fire. Still, running from Day Four of WOMADelaide at Botanic Park over to the Adelaide Oval, I did have a moment where I remembered how lucky I am to be living in amongst it all.
That was, until I reached what seemed like a mass pilgrimage heading toward the cricket grounds. I don’t know what the official head count for this show was, but it made me seriously consider what the evacuation protocol would be if there was a serious disaster/issue to take place. Anxieties surrounding large masses of people with seemingly no grasp on the idea that stopping in moving foot traffic doesn’t help anybody aside, once inside the Oval itself, the set up was pretty mint.
Adele’s well covered 360/in the round stage gives the audience a great viewpoint regardless of where they’re seat, while the screens provide ample opportunity for visuals and shots of the lady herself as she belts out lyric after lyric (when she’s not bantering hilariously with the crowd).
But while the phone torchlit stadium looked pretty and the “Skyfall” tour video/male choir added a dramatic touch, we weren’t really here for the theatrics. An amazing feat in itself, Adele managed to turn what would otherwise be an intimidating environment for any performer into one of candidness – not even a minute of listening to that brash North London accent in, and it would be hard not to feel at ease in this woman’s company.
Within the first half hour, Adele’s made reference to Johnny Depp and Amber Heard’s run-in with the Australian Government (the videoed apology being a reason she refrained from bringing her dog with her on tour), failed to keep a bet with a nine year old girl that she could make it through the show without swearing ($20 paid in full, she kept to her word) and commended Adelaide punters for getting drunk on a public holiday.
As we’re taken, ballad by ballad, through the two hour long set, it doesn’t feel like Adele is stretching for time. Now three albums deep, the singer isn’t without the material to match the size of her shows, yet the balance between selected songs and the crowd interaction is near perfect.
The epic nature of “Hello” is matched with the nostalgic flavour of “Hometown Glory” and 25‘s “Don’t You Remember”, the latter following on from Adele’s recollection of her first meeting with Alison Krauss – a major inspiration on the song. Throughout the concert, the crowd is well aware of the great talent they are assembled in front of, yet when Adele quips and cackles about the state of her fitness as she makes her umpteenth walk around the stage, you feel like you could easily be at the bar with a mate.
A brief power outage beneath the stage doesn’t halt the show’s progress much at all, instead, Adele uses the opportunity to further engage with the people in the pit immediately beneath her.
She talks a lot, she admits, but only because she’s nervous at the size of the crowd. Her jokes lean towards the filthy type, but she delivers them anyway. Yet, when it’s time to boss up, sip some hot honey and deliver the likes of “Rolling in the Deep” or “Rumour Has It”, no beat is missed. It’s business time.
When it comes to the Grammy Award winning album 25, the songs Adele throws down live sound great (which I know sounds like an understatement, if you’ve kept reading until now). Full disclosure: I’ve not been the biggest Adele fan, so this album has been the one I’m most familiar with.
“Send My Love (To Your Ex Lover)” and latest single, “Water Under the Bridge”, are in a league of their own live, while “When We Were Young” acted as a poignant moment in the show’s second half, with family photos from Adele’s childhood (including one of her in a brilliant East 17 band shirt), all the way to a candid pregnancy snap displayed on the screens.
Before ending the show with a rousing rendition of “Someone Like You”, Adele shares some of the backstory behind one of her biggest hits before reminding the crowd that though it was an incredibly heartbreaking song, and fully intended to be written for that purpose, it has led to so many great things for her, personally and professionally.
It’s then you realise how long this woman has been providing the soundtrack for many a break up and recovery period for. 19 celebrates 10 years this year and it would only seem that, with the success of 25, Adele’s star is only just revving up.
On this, Adele’s first Australian tour, we’ve been introduced to a 28 year old who doesn’t mince words and most certainly, doesn’t play about when it comes to leaving the crowd with a memorable concert experience. I would never have claimed to have been a big fan or aficionado prior to tonight, but I can’t knock the hustle on this one – definitely one of the best live shows I’ve seen in years.
Adele plays two final shows in Australia in Melbourne at Etihad Stadium on March 18th and 19th. For more information, visit Live Nation. The reviewer attended the show on March 13th.
Lead Photo Credit: Morne de Klerk | Getty Images