After a 4 year UK live hiatus, anticipation, speculation and a media frenzy, Adele is back performing to coincide with the recent release of her third record breaking album '25'. The latest tour started with one warm up show in Los Angeles in February, followed up by a number of UK/European dates until June (included within is a brief stop off at Worthy Farm in Glastonbury) ending in November with further dates in North America and Mexico. The fact that every live show sold out within minutes gives you an indication of the popularity of this hugely supported & popular Oscar and Grammy winning artist.
The Genting Arena Birmingham is by no means an iconic venue, more a functional one, directly on the map for many artists on the 'indoor stadium circuit' where Adele played four nights. Due to strict ticketing arrangements to deter ticket touts, this was almost exclusively attended by core fans from a wide age group ranging from women (and men) of a certain age, parents, grandparents, teenagers, hen parties, kids and without a doubt people attending their first 'big' concert. It was no coincidence that tickets for the UK element of the tour went on sale just before Christmas and many people here were receiving them as their 'main' present!
The show kicked off with the excellent and powerful 'Hello' performed to everyone's surprise from a mini stage in the centre of the arena which was to be the focal point for many songs meaning those in the floor/seating area received a real treat. After returning to the main stage the concert first progressed through arange of upbeat songs from her back catalogue including 'Hometown Glory', 'Rumour Has It', and 'Water Under The Bridge' and 'I Miss You' and of course, the fantastic Oscar winning 'Skyfall'. As the concert progressed, fans were treated to a very nice 'acoustic set' commencing with 'Million Years Ago', 'You Make You Feel My Love', two very powerful songs before gradually progressing through a wide range of classics including 'Chasing Pavements', 'Someone Like You' and ending with the very upbeat 'Rolling In The Deep'. This was a real treat as all the classics were supplemented with some fantastic visual effects on the main stage and mini-stage, the highlight being clips of Adele in her childhood and teenage years with very nice red hair, missing teeth and East 17 T-Shirt!
As with any Adele concert the songs progress through familiar themes of difficult relationships, close friends, teenage years, leaving familiar city areas, hanging around in the local park but now progressing to being a mum, growing up and dealing with huge success. These themes are very much at the core to all 3 of her previous albums and are an integral part of the Adele experience.
In between songs, Adele has a great touch of engaging with the audience either by inviting kids and parents on stage for 'selfies', speaking to people holding up message boards or recalling in a very nice/funny way about her past and present experiences along with a few 'choice words' that only add to things as the woman tells it as she feels and sees it. Lets hope the colourful language is not cut out from the much expected subsequent DVD release from the tour.
Without a doubt, this woman can sing (magnificently), almost every song was note for note and on some occasions even better then the studio versions. At times, this show felt as if you were in a local park or small concert venue as Adele has a great ability to connect with everyone in the audience, making you feel you are part of a very small and intimate gig. Adele was joined on stage by an exceptionally talented band, some of which have been with her for years and now supplemented with a small classical string ensemble that added a layer of sophistication to many of her songs.
As to what is next for this artist remains to be seen, but I wouldn't expect frequent tours or album releases. With this woman, it's certainly quality over quantity. However that's what makes her unique, she does things at her own pace, in her own time, when she is ready, without bowing to corporate or fan pressure. Oh and for those people that couldn't get a ticket, they are available on the black market for extremely stupid prices, but be aware, admission is no way guaranteed!
Why not save your money for next time, buy the DVD instead and have a great night in! You wont regret it!
Review by Paul O'Rourke