Published on theMusic.com.au, Mar 2017
Helicopters fluttering violently above gridlocked streets and people shuffling towards a location featuring a “lost children” checkpoint resembled something from the apocalypse, and when the stadium was full, the voice that nearly caused an entire city to shut down had the high expectations of 65,500 punters to live up to.
The open lines of Hello echoed from behind a screen that circled and concealed the 360-degree stage planted in the middle of the oval. It slowly lifted to reveal Adele all by herself on a raised platform wearing a sparkling dress, noticeably nervous as she swept into the soaring chorus of the song and kicked off her Australian debut and first-ever stadium show.
Emotional and overwhelmed, she did a lap of the platform surrounding the stage while holding back tears of joy. “Let me hear ya sing!” she yelled to the nosebleed section in a thick British accent. “Louder! All 65,000 of ya.”
The intimate feel of the show was assisted by her backing band sitting on a lower platform almost out of view to half the audience.
The stage setup was jaw dropping in its own right, but Adele proved early on she didn’t need a fancy light show or cheesy choreographed dance moves, having every punter in a trance with the simple piano riff and soulful vocals of One And Only.
“Ello, Perf! You go so far back,” she said, sipping from a tea. “I’m finally ‘ere!”
Her accent became more charming and grounding with each word and despite claiming to be “flabbergasted” she had plenty to say.
The drum-heavy Water Under The Bridge dished up snare bursts that reverberated through your chest, and while upbeat, pop numbers like I’ll Be Waiting added healthy dynamics, nothing compared to the ballads and more raw numbers. Adele could have quite easily entertained the entire audience for the whole two hours with nothing more than a capella renditions of her songs.
I Miss You reached an emotional overload with pacing drums and a medley for backing vocals, and that intensity was amplified when a men’s choir lined the edge of the stage, dressed in black suits for James Bond theme Skyfall.
It was a classy production, but Adele revealed a slightly toned effort than planned during soundcheck.
“Up until last night, we did have fireworks for you,” she revealed. “My son was watching [soundcheck] in the crowd… a bit of debris went in his eye so we got rid of them.”
One lucky punter in the bleachers found a handwritten note accompanied by a photo of the singer holding said note — Adele was repaid with an infestation on the stage. “There’s a cockroach on the stage and a fly in my tea,” she cackled.
Adele is one part bogan, one part comedian and two parts musician.
Adele explained how her 21 album was heavily inspired by Alison Krauss before launching into an ode to the country star with Don’t You Remember, the perfect blend of pop and country.
After fumbling around with a crew member’s phone to take a selfie backed by a stadium lit by phone lights, she shamelessly burped and continued to gush about the influence of other musicians on her and the pleasures of covering songs (“maybe I should stop making my own”), a nice segue into Bob Dylan’s Make You Feel My Love, which appeared on Adele’s first album.
Throughout the set, Adele dished up enough banter to last a lifetime, talking to the audience like she was in a small bar somewhere, or hanging with close friends.
In a chance interaction that almost seemed staged it was so perfect, Adele plucked a gentleman dressed in drag from the front to join her onstage. “I’m Feminem,” he said, wearing a custom $700 dress and quickly letting everyone know he was a professional Adele impersonator before unleashing an impressive vocal performance of Rumour Has It.
Within the same song break, Adele fired t-shirt guns into the audience, truly utilising her first ever stadium experience. An unexpected rainbow confetti explosion at the end of Sweetest Devotion took things to the next level before an old favourite, Chasing Pavements, made its way back onto the setlist. “I haven’t sung this song in a very long time. If I fuck it up, I’ll start again,” she admitted but didn’t miss a beat.
After a trip down memory lane via a collection of family photos set to When We Were Young — that featured a brief tribute to the late George Michael — Adele went out in a blaze of glory to megahits Rolling In The Deep and Someone Like You, the latter of which had her in tears as 65,000 people sung the chorus as loudly as they could. “I’m so sorry it took me this long,” she said through tears. “This is my first ever stadium show and I will never, ever forget this. I hope it was worth the wait.”