Concert Reviews

Adele Somehow Turned an Arena of 18,000 Into an Intimate Place for a Chat Between Friends

Adele’s boyfriend hasn’t married her after five years and a baby together. It’s a predicament she casually slipped into conversation in the midst of introducing one of her songs, “Million Years Ago,” during her sold-out concert at American Airlines Center on Tuesday evening.

“I'm not married," she said. "I don't know why I'm not married — we'll talk about that at another point in the show.”

The 28-year-old singer’s candor about her personal life was par for the course that evening, and made her improbably relatable. She was the quintessence of the life of the party, and a crude one at that — she talked about “shitting her tights” before her first Saturday Night Live appearance, hating her best friends’ husbands and warned the audience she would probably belch during “Don’t You Remember?” because the key change near the end of the song overwhelms her diaphragm. “If you hear a rip roaring sound don’t be alarmed," she said. "It's just me and my dinner."

These jokes went off without a hitch. This notorious Chatty Cathy lived up to her reputation, regaling the arena with anecdotes about her personal life for nearly as much time as she sang, and she had the crowd, quite literally, roaring with laughter and applause. If her aim was to make the audience fall in love with her and think her boyfriend must be insane for not popping the question, she achieved that goal.

Adele opened the evening with a chills-inducing rendition of “Hello” from a square platform stage in the middle of the darkened arena before she was escorted by security through the parted crowd to the main stage for “Hometown Glory” — one of her very first hits off of her album, 19, which she performed against a backdrop of aerial shots of the Dallas skyline. Once the screen behind her was raised, it revealed an impressive, nearly 20-piece orchestral band.

She joked that rising up from beneath the floor on that elevator-stage with a cold opening of “hello…” to thousands of people is nerve-wracking enough to make her nearly vomit. She was very forthcoming about her pervasive stage fright, explaining to the audience that word-vomiting is her way of staving off the real thing.

“To make my nerves go away, I like to talk, so I'm warning you now that I talk — a lot. You're cheering now but when it turns out that I only did like four or five songs tonight you'll be booing me by the end.”

It’s somewhat shocking that after all of these years performing on the biggest stages around the world, an Oscar, 10 Grammys and tons of televised performances, Adele would be nervous about opening to 18,000 people in Dallas, but her candid vignettes about her life reminded people of her humanity. She’s just a regular gal with a high-profile career, telling the crowd she was fortunate enough to take her 4-year-old son trick-or-treating the night before around Dallas, having worn a hotel bedsheet as a disguise, and was thrilled she went unrecognized for a whole three hours.

Adele’s voice rang crystal-clear through the large venue, although at the top of the set it sounded a tad bit hoarse — a facet, no doubt, of her demanding tour schedule. She’s been on the 107-date tour since February, with Tuesday’s performance clocking in at number 99, yet she remarked that as she’s rounding the last curve of the tour, it’s bittersweet.

Other than slightly over-taxed vocal chords, Adele sounds just as amazing live as in her recorded performances, and her show in the arena was a facsimile of her television presence, a credit to her consistency. Her predictably great performance made her self-deprecating banter ever-the-more charming. It’s a side of Adele that the public rarely gets to witness, unless fortunate enough to see her in concert.

“I'm afraid you've come to the wrong place if you're looking to have a good time, because this show is two hours of misery. It's basically like 17 songs about me and my ex-boyfriends,” Adele warned with a laugh at the top of the set.

While she was off-the-mark about the crowd enjoying themselves, she wasn’t downplaying the misery that drove her song-writing. While introducing “Someone Like You” off of the album 21, she said, “I was so low it actually made me ill,” and decided to write an album as a way of coping.

“I thought I was going to come out on top, but 99 shows in, I'm going to be honest with you Dallas, I don't know if I came out on top,” she lamented. “I know for a fact, he has 100-percent moved on, and here I am, seven years later still fucking singing about him.” To which the crowd responded with laughter.

She went on: “I find this tour conflicting because I either feel bitter about the fact that I'm still singing about him, or I get truly paranoid that it’s really inappropriate because I have a new boyfriend who I have a child with, and I get worried he might be offended that I’m still singing songs about someone from when I was 21.”

While Adele might be tired of the fodder that made her famous, it’s obvious that no one else that night was sick of her. She introduced her Bob Dylan cover of “Make You Feel My Love,” saying that she enjoys singing it because aside from being one of her favorite songs, it “gives me a break from being me for four minutes.”

The fans hung on her every word, were quick on the draw with their cheering, and threw gifts like bracelets, earrings and stuffed animals on stage during her performance. A girl who was about seven years old was invited up to the stage to present Adele with a homemade mug that said “Adele’s hot honey,” an homage to the honey she drinks for her vocal chords. And Adele was the ever-gracious hostess, taking selfies with the girl and other fans she spotted in the crowd.

Her parting gift during the final moments of her last song, “Rolling in the Deep,” was a shower of confetti with what appeared to be her handwritten lyrics and sentiments on each piece. It was celebratory and playful – a collective redemption of all of the heartache that went into creating her body of work.
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