The verdict is out: Adele loves her people and her people love her. Vibrant eyes and high cheekbones, she shimmers in a floor length rainbow sparkle gown accentuating her curves; she mentions how she’s been working out to build stamina for us.
Her iconic eyes, magnified of a million times, were the backdrop of her initial set. They remained closed until she appropriately greeted the crowd with “Hello”, then burst open revealing to us the soul she was about to pour out on stage. Adele herself remained somewhat elusive to the crowd, singing her hit song from an unknown location, while fans curiously scanned the United Center anticipating and hoping to be the first to catch a glimpse.
A large portion of the show was demonstrating her true colors. She could adorably mumble and the crowd may even forget that she isn’t singing; people love Adele. The United Center, the largest venue she’s played to date on this tour, became the proverbial ‘women's bathroom’ as she regurgitated everything normal, gross, real, and obvious, complete with stories of zits, ears growing to the size of cauliflower during her pregnancy, and bogies. She attempted to make the concert intimate, intimate for each one of her 20,000 or so guests. A tough task, but she had the crowd hanging on her every word and made them laugh by telling them how she was “literally productive” between her albums “21” to “25” by delivering a baby.
Her laugh is almost a cackle, much different than the operatic laugh I anticipated. Her desire to be relatable is apparent. Adele’s life in a slideshow flashes behind her as she sings “When We Were Young”, yet another way to connect to Adele and identify with her rebellious attitude captured in her young adult images. So relatable that I was able to place her in my life timeline, whether as a good friend in my high school years or as myself at 31; the fact that I can relate to an almost EGOT (Emmy Award, GRAMMY Award, Oscar Award, Tony Award) [just need a Broadway performance Adele] is unfathomable.
The curriculum was heartbreak; we were to experience emotions together, under her direction; yet oddly everyone was smiling. She explained her credentials: dating, broken hearts, growing up, kissing numerous frogs, incessant thinking of past lovers. She coached us by sharing raw emotion of difficult and not-so-glamorous feelings of heartbreak. Her music is iconic because people can relate and empathize; both young and old. Experiencing dysfunctional love and ultimately heartbreak is part of the human experience and Adele schooled us with her music how to properly feel painful emotion, embrace it, and then move on.
She kept the air lighthearted in between her deeply emotional songs, and jokes about her miserable egotistical songs and how we should anticipate being miserable all together.
The crowd embraced her and laughed at her jokes on cue. But when Adele urged to sing along, I was surprised to hear quiet murmurs similar to small town Sunday mass. Was the crowd intimidated to belt out the Adele voice they reserve for the safety and non-judgment of their private personal space? Or perhaps they wanted to be polite to their neighbors ears, because we all know we tried at one point to sing like Adele. We were there to hear her.
Adele is an open book, an interesting yet familiar read; it was wonderful to get to know her. Hilariously ‘Adele’-able, it was clear she doesn’t take herself as seriously as her songs portray. Her chats were mostly unscripted and from the cuff, yet towards the end she became perhaps too-talky with the crowd becoming visibly restless, yet she rambled on. I think we all wished she sang her thoughts.
Nonetheless, Adele showcased her voice; a loud triumphant sound that comes from deep within that only she can own. She echoed beautifully about an enormous venue, cruising us down memory lane of some of our most painful yet cherished memories. She mentioned the vocal surgery, however didn’t seem to limit intensity. This Sunday July 10th show was the first of 3 sold-out, back-to-back shows in Chicago. She was unwaveringly in the moment, respectfully delivering to her adoring fans.
Adele loves Chicago almost as much as its people. She arrived a few days early after her first round of U.S. concerts beginning in St. Paul, also sold out. “It's so beautiful it's ridiculous” she exclaims as she tells of her explorations of the city, highlighting the playground in the middle of the city and The Girl and The Goat. She remarked how she pretended to live here and enjoyed a Sunday Chicago River boat ride on the most perfectly vibrant blue sky day. The crowd reminisced on the grandeur of their city as images of sweet iconic Chicago flashed during “Hometown Glory” from her album “19”. And she remained in the city days following the concert, reported to have ridden Navy Pier’s Centennial Wheel not once but twice with her 3-year-old son flabbergasting those lucky enough to be in her presence as she stood in line and paid just like everyone else.
Adele’s cheeky “upbeat song with a beat”, “Roumour Has It”, had a growly vintage-cool sound. She brought the sass. The icon delivered some svelte into her performance of “Water Under the Bridge” showcasing maturation since her first album. Her 18 piece orchestra was magnified with backlighting projecting them onto a middle screen between them and Adele, like smoke and mirrors, and carried her 007 single “Skyfall”.
The first of three encore songs started with “All I ask”. A difficult song on so many levels, she captured us then divulges how nervous she gets before coming up from under the stage to sing that song. Commenting further on her regrettable 58th Annual GRAMMY Awards appearance being the “worst f*ing performance” of her life, which turned her into a trash bin throwing diva. But she ate a burger, cried for two days and now claims “its fine.” I was actually at the GRAMMYs in February to witness the debacle. I started on the edge of my seat in anticipation to be absolutely blown away by her voice; instead I almost fell out of my chair in disbelief. She went on to say “We all make mistakes…..but it wasn’t actually our mistake”. I feel no need to further comment as its clearly all forgiven, although I do wonder where that sound engineer is now.
The woman was born to discuss with us, relationships. In opening for “Sweetest Emotion”, she gushed about the astonishing feeling of falling in love with a complete stranger and what it feels like to have a consistent love for her son. “I didn’t think it was possible to love anyone that much”. If her twenties were reserved to finding the love of her life, I highly anticipate her third decade album.
I’ve always loved Adele (enough to spend a hefty ticket fare on a ground floor seat only 16 rows back from her main stage), but I’ve a newfound appreciation for the lustrous darling. I now hear her songs on the radio and instead of having concerns of it being overplayed, I reminisce and love. “I miss you” lyrics expose vulnerability, yet her voice exhibits unbelievable confidence with strength and range making it difficult to identify with any insecurities.
Adele sang only as Adele could: straight from the diaphragm with tons of gusto. The acoustics in the United Center were good, her voice was pure, unadulterated, true to form. Her name is never misleading; if you go experience “An evening with Adele” you get to see, hear, and know Adele. It is a very human experience. She’s gracious, soulful, and relevant asking that we “all look out for one another”, dedicating “Make You Feel My Love” a Bob Dylan song to all those who lost their lives the week before in the Dallas shootings targeting police officers.
We were sent on our way with cut up bits of a love letter turned into confetti, each piece containing different hand-written messages “all in love” and signed, Adele.
"One and Only"
"Rumour Has It"
"Water Under the Bridge"
"I Miss You"
"Million Years Ago"
"Don’t You Remember"
"Send My Love to You"
"Make You Feel My Love"
"Someone Like You"
"Set Fire to the Rain"
"All I Ask"
"When We Were Young"
"Rolling in the Deep"