The sheer scale of Adele’s first ever show on Australian soil – and her first stadium concert ever – is as big as her powerful voice, which is even more impressive live than on record. She has some serious pipes.
It starts with sudden darkness dead on 8 pm – we hear her voice: “Hello… hello from the other side,” and there is a roar that would put any footy team to shame as 65,000 men, women and children from all walks of life – a record crowd for the venue – embrace the Adele Experience.
Looking regal in a glittering purple-hued ball gown, she takes a deep, nervous breath and launches into the song with a chorus of tens of thousands of voices, before strolling around her futuristic, 360-degree stage-within-a-stage. A wrap-around video screen projects larger-than-life footage and shot-for-this-tour video to the furthest reaches of the cavernous football oval, making sure that no-one misses out on a thing.
Her band remain nameless, and reproduce her songs a little too faithfully: some more personality would have been welcome. But Adele herself has personality to spare, and live she is far more Dusty Springfield than Celine Dion, the blue-eyed soul in her vocals accentuated more than on record.
Just as she imbues her songs with her own experiences of life, love, heartbreak and more heartbreak, Adele draws the huge crowd into her world with her down-to-earth charm, a good-humoured, but at times slightly blue vocabulary, some ramblingly quirky between song banter, and a salt-of-the-earth charisma that many would pay a ransom for.
Tracks from all three of her hit albums featured. ‘I’ll Be Waiting’ is a soulful bump n’ grind; ‘Rumour Has It’’s tribal beat gets bootys shaking; ‘Skyfall’ features a full men’s choir posted at intervals around the stage; ‘Don’t You Remember’, inspired by Alison Krauss, shows a country twang to the Londoner’s soul; Bob Dylan’s ‘Make You Feel My Love’ is beautifully heartfelt and moving – all of which is slightly at odds with her South London cackle and “let’s ‘ave a dance, oright my darlings” realness – but it’s this humanity which makes her accessible and endearing to her fans. She seems, simply, nice – if slightly mad.
‘Send My Love (To Your New Lover)’ again gets the crowd to their feet for a dance, before she drags a male Adele impersonator from the crowd on stage for a few laughs, shoots a few t-shirts into the throng from a bazooka, overshares self-deprecatingly about her weight and sweatiness, and we’re left wondering: Is this the biggest pop diva in the world, or some kind of holiday camp entertainer?
The answer, of course, is that she is both the biggest singing star in the world AND a world class entertainer, and don’t let the easy – sometimes cheesy – bonhomie fool you: the music never falters for a moment.
‘Sweetest Devotion’ is as big and heartfelt a ballad as they come, Adele hitting some incredible notes throughout; ‘Fire To The Rain’ closes the main set in magnificent style; ‘When We Were Young’ is accompanied by a revealing photo reel of the fiercely private singer as a child; while favourite ‘Rolling In The Deep’ is soulful and bouncy.
Adele introduces ‘Someone Like You’ by declaring, “this song changed my life – and YOU changed my life,” actually crying as the audience takes over the chorus time and again, prompting a touching and very real thankyou before she is escorted off the field.
It’s hard to imagine anyone being disappointed with Adele’s performance, her warmth and charm and wit, or her immensely entertaining – and kind of great – first-ever Australian show. In fact the only thing the show didn’t have was fireworks – which she revealed she had cancelled after some debris from their dress rehearsal the previous night landed in her son’s eye.