As a pair of closed, mascara-clad eyes dominate the O2 Arena screen, the ubiquitous opening piano chords of ‘Hello’ ring out. The eyes flash open and the woman that emerges on a separate, central stage, elegant in a sparkling sequinned gown, is a far cry from the fresh-faced teen that rose to fame at just 19. Madonna, Prince, Bono and Akon are all mononymous greats that have conquered the O2 Arena, and Adele certainly fits that bill, roaring through her colossal comeback single to say “hello” to each and every member of the audience. The Londoner, on home turf, follows with ‘Hometown Glory’- penned at just 16, before ‘One and Only’ from 21. As a 21-year-old myself – the same age Adele wrote her multi-Grammy award winning, record smashing album – it’s hard not to feel somewhat intimidated.
“…the woman that emerges on a separate, central stage, elegant in a sparkling sequinned gown, is a far cry from the fresh-faced teen that rose to fame at just 19…”
Adele wastes no time in setting herself apart from her contemporaries – bursting into ‘Rumour Has It’, it is clear that unlike Beyonce, Adele doesn’t need eight costume changes. Unlike Miley Cyrus, Adele opts for class over twerking. 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.
The record smashing 25 is expectedly well-showcased with faultless renditions of ‘Sweetest Devotion’, ‘Water Under The Bridge’ and ‘Send My Love (To Your New Lover)’. 19 and 21 also get decent exposure 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 final high note. That said, an Adele burp is probably more tuneful than my best effort to sing along.
Adele’s mid-song chats keep up the informal badinage; they seem has as many expletives as a Tarentino film. She also proudly announces that she no longer requires Imodium to prevent her getting the shits 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. Perhaps 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.
In the interests of a balanced review, there is perhaps one negative 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…”. But 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. ‘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.