She came, she sang and she conquered.
Adele’s stunning performance at Sydney’s ANZ Stadium will remain in the minds of the 95,544 people fortunate enough to be there last night – including my 11-year-old daughter and I.
Adele’s vocal prowess and stage presence rivals that of any other artist I have seen. Ever. And I’ve seen a few in my time.
The power and sheer beauty of Adele’s remarkable voice, and the raw honesty of her lyrics, reduced many a fan to tears throughout her set.
And if it sounds like I’m gushing, well, I am.
She is an international superstar, there is no question about that. But she is also refreshingly down-to-earth, self-deprecating and laugh-out-loud hilarious. She engages with her audience, is honest and speaks from the heart. There are no airs and graces here. The ballgown-wearing Adele dropped many F-bombs during her set and we laughed every time.
This girl loves a chat. Much of this review is written in her own words.
The in-the-round stage with a huge circular screen complemented Adele’s performance. One woman, one hell of a voice, and a larger-than-life personality.
She wore a soft purple, off-the-shoulder sparkling gown that showed off her tattoos and her hair fell naturally just above her shoulders.
Adele opened with the haunting Hello and such was the enthusiasm of the crowd, she gave us the microphone more than once. Yes, in the opening song.
Hometown Glory followed, and images of Sydney broadcast on the screen above her were greeted with cheers.
It was only after the third song, One and Only, that she addressed the crowd.
“Allo, ‘allo Sydney. I’ve never seen a crowd this f – – – ing big before that’s for sure,” she said in her strong north London accent.
“It’s taken me 10 years to get here and I’m sorry about that, but I’m here now.”
She took a crown form the hands of a fan, put it on her head and continued.
“I don’t know if you know this, but I don’t have many upbeat songs. But I’ll get them out of the way now so we can be miserable together again. And it’s OK, you can get up and dance, even if you’re told not to.”
More than 95,000 people jumped to their feet as she launched into I’ll Be Waiting followed by Rumour Has It and Water Under The Bridge. And dance they did.
It was only after singing I Miss You that Adele confirmed she had now “chilled out” and her mouth was no longer dry.
“It normally takes me about five or six songs to relax,” she said.
Not that anyone could tell she had been in any way nervous. She did mention, though, that it had taken her until now in her career to feel that she could play a stadium. She had to get used to the idea, she said, but it made sense given the sheer number of people desperate to see her perform these days.
She also apologised for not staying in Australia longer, but she had to “be home by April to get the kid to school”.
Bond song Skyfall, written for Adele, was next. She explained how she knocked back the opportunity at first (“I always say no. Treat ’em mean and keep them keen,” she said with a laugh. “And they went ‘OK, no problem’ and then I was like ‘No, no, no, I want to do it, really’.”)
An all-male choir joined her and she asked the crowd: “Can I get a cheer for a female bond?”
“It won’t be me though, I can’t even walk around this stage I’m so unfit,” she continued.
“But the footage that’s about to come on, with me underwater, I look f – – – – ing great, I’ll tell ya.”
Adele talked about her “obsession” with country artist Alison Krauss as she sipped a mug of hot honey, and mentioned how she “became a bit stalker-like” and once followed her into a toilet at Nashville.
Before singing the beautiful Don’t You Remember she told the crowd: “Be aware there is a key change and sometimes I burp”.
Afterwards, her conversation continued: “Did you notice that I f – – – ed up the words in the first chorus? Thanks to the girl in the hoop earrings down the front, you were singing along and helped me remember them.”
A cover of Bob Dylan’s Make You Feel My Love was next, a song Adele said she absolutely loved and often sang in the shower.
“I can’t sing my own songs in the shower now can I? That would be weird, wouldn’t it?”
She asked everyone to use the flashlight on their mobile phones during the song and hold them in the air, a vision she described as “breathtaking”.
Adele apologised for starting the show an hour late because she is “usually very punctual” – but said she had been told people were still getting on trains. That was true. At the original starting time of 7.30pm, the stadium was less than half full.
She then stumbled down a couple of stairs on stage and laughed.
“When I’m jetlagged one of my favourite things to do is watch videos of people falling over. I’ll be in one of those videos soon, the way I’m going.”
Send My Love (To Your New Lover) was a highlight, after which she grabbed a bazooka-looking gun filled with T-shirts and shot them out into the crowd. She also asked if anyone in the back row, in the stadium’s rafters, had found a letter from her. They had.
Adele dedicated the touching Sweetest Devotion, written for her son, to all of the parents and their children in the crowd. Colourful confetti filled the air and cameras broadcast images of children in the crowd on the big screen.
Then she sang Chasing Pavements and Take It All before ripping into a powerful version of Fire In The Rain. But not before she noticed someone in the crowd being treated for a medical condition. She actually stopped the music and, close to tears and in a voice shaky with emotion, asked if they were OK.
“Someone’s not well. I don’t want to carry on because there’s fireworks and everything coming up and I don’t want them to get frightened. I’m frightened.”
When it became apparent the person was well enough for her to continue she said: “Oh bugger, I’ve ruined the surprise now”.
Adele took a short break from the stage and a “Kiss Cam” broadcast on the big screen, focusing on people in the crowd who had to then kiss. It was hilarious and touching.
The encore kicked off with When We Were Young, where photos of Adele as a child growing up and, finally, as a pregnant mother to be, were shared. Rolling In The Deep followed, and it was simply magical.
The final song of the evening was intensely personal. She wrote Someone Like You, she said, at a time when she lost herself in a relationship.
“It’s a sad song but it’s actually optimistic.”
Confetti with lyrics written on them filled the air.
Then Adele walked off the stage, through the crowd, and was gone. What a woman. What a night.