There are some performers who audiences will break the bank to go and see. There is a very select group of performers who will motivate fans of all ages to come and see a live show, the once in a lifetime concert event. I remember older colleagues in London, when I was younger, waxing lyrical about seeing Elvis, Frank Sinatra, Liza Minnelli, Barbra Streisand and the like and this series of Adele shows feels like just such an event.
Fans were happy, nay keen, to pay huge amounts of money for the chance to be there when Adele took to the stage. Touts rubbed their collective hands with joy, ramped up the prices and still the fans came. Was it worth the money? Absolutely ! Every penny, in fact I wish I could have afforded to put myself closer but being in the gods at the O2 in no way diminished the experience. Sound was perfect, presentation impeccable and Adele’s big personality made the vastness of the O2 somehow feel intimate.
As concert goers file into their seats, they are greeted with a giant projection of Adele’s closed eyes on the main stage which occasionally move as if to hint at the fact they are video and not photograph. To a murmur of the first strains of ‘Hello’, Adele rises from a central stage and, as her giant mascara adorned eyes flutter open, launches into a perfect rendition of the comeback song from her third album ’25’ and the capacity crowd roar their approval.
Walking, singing, to the main stage, Adele moves straight into the aptly named ‘Hometown’ accompanied by video of London which as the song comes to a close rests on a picture of the O2 Arena. A perfectly-choreographed entrance set and the fans burst into spontaneous cheering and applause.
Adele then starts to chat and it is the warmth and genuine nature of her between song banter that makes this the event it is. Adele’s singing is note perfect and the sound excellent but the honesty of the songs combined with the inherent integrity of the conversation are what makes an Adele concert a must see.
She chats to fans, gets young people up on stage, poses for selfies and adorns herself with a union flag as she moves through an eighteen song 2 1/2 hour set list which includes all the favourites and always manages to make this experience feel personal, like she is chatting with just you over a drink in the local, or more likely these days a Mother’s Day mug of honey and hot water in her kitchen.
During the evening Adele says that she was aware of having to put on a show and wanted special moments. There is real rain falling from the ceiling during ‘Set Fire To The Rain’, beautiful home pictures during ‘When We Were Young’, a wonderful performance inside a diaphanous curtain which features projections of her singing whilst on the central stage for ‘Chasing Pavements’ and confetti adorned with song lyrics that explode over the main auditorium during the ‘Rolling In The Deep’ finale.
But, the quiet moments are the ones that will haunt me, much the same as when a stripped back Brits performance launched Adele into the collective psyche; she played a central set of ‘Million Years Ago’, ‘Don’t You Remember’, and bouncy but dark, ‘Send My Love’, in a country style round at the front of the stage which maybe hints at a new direction one day, but the singing of ‘Make You Feel My Love’, dedicated to the people of Brussels and accompanied by over 20,000 torch waving fans will live long in the memory for its poignancy.
It is this connection that fans feel with Adele that makes this girl from Tottenham already feel like a national treasure. When she introduces an incredible rendition of ‘Skyfall’, she almost apologises for being thrilled to win an Oscar. She needn’t, everyone here is proud of her, touched by her humility and hilarious stories of real life and loving every second of the evening. It is fitting that the popular Tottenham Hotspur chant so aptly applies to Adele: ” She’s one of our own, she’s one of our own. Adele, she’s one of our own”. Aren’t we lucky! Let’s hope, now that she has conquered her apprehension of large venues, this becomes a regular lifetime opportunity.