Adele says ‘Hello’ to performance perfection
August 29, 2016
Every light in the venue went out and the big screen came to life. Four familiar chords rang out as a North London woman with a working-class accent rose out of the central stage to offer her greeting to an audience of about 20,000 people.
The world-recognized pop/R&B star Adele recently embarked on her first tour since 2011. Called “Adele Live 2016,” the tour has covered Europe and most of North America, with a few more stops in southern United States and Mexico remaining. Concerts on the tour feature a relatively constant setlist mostly showcasing her newest album, “25,” with highlights from her previous albums.
I attended her concert in Phoenix, Arizona Aug. 16, and I was absolutely blown away. In the modern world of music technology, live performances rarely live up to radio and album recordings. Adele’s live performance contained everything I love about her albums and more. Her voice was just as powerful as it is on her recordings, but she also added to the experience to make the concert by far the best I have ever attended.
Adele is better known for smaller, more formal theater performances. Her music, while absolutely breathtaking, is not best suited for a jam-packed arena. Rather than change her style to better suit her venue, Adele changed her venue to better suit her style. There was no general admission stage-crowding, and although there was floor seating, people were asked to remain at their seats for the show. After her opening number she said, “If you came here to have a rave party, you came to the wrong concert.”
With the wildness associated with arena concerts out of the way, Adele still created many ways to interact with the audience and keep the show lively and fun. She called people up to the stage to ask them questions and take pictures, asked questions of the audience, addressed the crowd conversationally between songs , and moved between stages to ensure no one missed out. Throughout the evening, she would casually stop to take a sip of tea, creating a feeling almost as if chatting with her in her living room (except for the screaming fans).
Her ongoing commentary was both informative and entertaining. She explained the origins and meanings of some songs, and knowing most of her songs are not upbeat, she would occasionally stop just to tell a joke or a funny story. She warned the crowd at the beginning, “I really only have two songs that sound happy, so we will get those out of the way now and then we can all just cry for an hour and a half.” I did my share of crying throughout, but her sense of humor and crowd involvement made the show just as fun as it was moving.
The main reason people attend concerts is to hear the actual singing, and Adele did not disappoint. Known for her powerful soul voice, she brought down the house with vocal strength, but it was more than just two hours of screaming. She showed off her huge vocal range with a mix of her music, from the sub-staff depths of “Million Years Ago” to the beautiful floating notes in the bridge of “Hello.” Her voice was clean and flawless throughout the show. It came as a complete shock to me when the next morning she cancelled that night’s show because she had been battling a cold for several days and she could no longer sing. I would never have been able to tell she was not feeling well, but she did confess in her cancellation that she gave the concert everything she had anyway, the mark of a performer who truly loves her fans.
“Adele Live 2016” has been completely sold out on her website almost since the tour was announced, but there are still sites reselling tickets from fans who can no longer make the show. Adele tickets are rather expensive, but she makes attendance worth every penny. If ticket prices are just too high, iTunes offers “25” for $10.99, and Adele is also a Spotify artist. Her music varies, and almost everyone can find at least one of her songs to love. Her beautiful voice and brilliant songwriting explain her chart-topping tendencies. She might find “Someone Like You,” but you will not find anyone like Adele.