At 8:20 on a Friday evening in the Wells Fargo Center in Philadelphia, Adele Adkins, a woman who is universally recognized by first name alone, rose from the stage to sing “Hello” to a screaming, sold-out audience of 20,000.
Like the majority of Adele fans at the concert, I had been waiting for this performance since I bought my ticket back in October when tickets for her much-anticipated US tour were finally released. Recognized as a global phenomenon after the release of her second album 21 and now her newest record 25, it is not surprising that her tickets vanished from TicketMaster within a matter of minutes before landing in the hands of scalpers who raised the prices astronomically. Despite my own personal struggles, Adele was worth the wait, the hours I spent working on campus to pay for the ticket, and even the crappy view I had.
Her opening with “Hello” was expected and also understandably, enthralling, with its resonance and climactic build up. As she stepped down from her platform at the other end of the stadium and was escorted to the main stage at the opposite side, a projection of her eyes was split across the screen–because I mean, who doesn’t like to watch Adele bat her giant eyelashes? The screen served as the most elaborate technological aspect of the performance, projecting images and videos of Philadelphia landmarks during “Hometown Glory” and of a toddler Adele in “When We Were Young,” making the concert feel a bit like a home-video screening. There was something entirely refreshing about a global pop phenomenon not prancing around a stage under strobe lights with a whole crew of back-up dancers behind her. Adele kept her concert simple and even somewhat familial, allowing the focus to remain on her vocals (which are even more astonishing live if that is possible) and her friendly banter.
After almost every song, or every other song, she paused to converse with the audience, allowing a giant arena to feel included in an exchange of conversations and laughter. In fact, at one point, after performing her first three songs, she invited a group of friends from the front row to come up on stage to take a moment to introduce each one.
Throughout the concert, she kept up a bantering and cheerful tone, despite her joking that, other than a select few “with a beat,” most of her songs were miserable and melodramatic. Preceding her performance of “A Million Years Ago,” a song with lyrics like “I feel like my life is flashing by and all I can do is watch and cry,” she admitted that when left alone, “things can get pretty dark.”
But not all of her songs are quite so dark. In an attempt to reassure the audience of her current state of contentment, she went on to describe her son. Of all the most relatable and down-to-earth qualities about Adele, surely the adoration of her son is the most admirable. In numerous interviews (of which I have seen too many), she gushes over her son Angelo like any mother would over her child. And during the performance, before singing “Sweetest Devotion,” a song written entirely for Angelo, she told the audience to find someone to love as much as she loves her son.
Adele’s two-hour performance, which flew by and which I would gladly attend again, was one of those rare experiences when someone you admire and idolize materializes into a living, breathing, relatable person, yet somehow becomes even more of a perfect being in their display of humor and sincerity.
Featured Image Courtesy of frontrowtickets.com