Review: Adele opens her long-delayed residency in Las Vegas

It was worth the wait — and not just for the reasons Adele might have foreseen.

The British superstar singer, who finally kicked off her long-delayed five-month stint at the Coliseum at Caesars Palace on Friday night, made no attempt to squash the memory of her shock cancellation in January when she announced just hours before the scheduled premiere that It Was She postponed the show indefinitely because it wasn’t finished.

“I should give she a standing ovation,” she tearfully told the audience on Friday, after fans stood up to applaud the double whammy of heavy ballads – “Hello” followed by “Easy on Me” – that opened their set. “Thank you for coming back to me.” She later described the rescue as “the worst feeling I’ve ever had but the best decision I’ve ever made,” saying, “I stand by it.”

If that’s because the deserted version of the residency lacked the sense of intimacy it was rumored to be after, it feels rightly vindicated: Weekends with Adele, as this series of 32 gigs through the end of March is called, creates an exquisite Balance of personal storytelling and Las Vegas glitz, with stirring expressions of pure emotion amidst just the right amount of stagecraft to remind you where you are.

The show offers a chance to enjoy one of the world’s greatest voices in a medium-sized theater and comes at an unexpectedly opportune time as pop fans ponder the downsides of a gargantuan stadium concert thanks to Ticketmaster’s botched issue of passes for Taylor Swift’s 2023 tour To put it bluntly, snagging a ticket to see Adele from any of the Colosseum’s 4,100 seats presented its own set of challenges, not the least of which was reseller prices, which exceeded $800 for a perch on the balcony .)

“The whole reason I wanted to play in a small space was so I could be so close to you,” Adele said after singing “When We Were Young” — that is, singing the fill out of it — while she literally sauntered through the crowd, clutching and grinning like a politician on a tightrope. The concentration required to use her voice with such control and identifying which viewers were the ones to hug – it was a thing to see that luckily you could do without binoculars.

Though career-wise linked to last year’s ’30’ LP – which was nominated for Grammy Awards this week, including Album, Record and Song of the Year – ‘Weekends With Adele’ draws on the 34-year-old’s entire catalog and shows the robust, hand-played love songs that have made them a commercial powerhouse, though pop has moved away from their proudly old-fashioned style. The show starts with just Adele wearing a simple but glamorous black dress on Friday and a pianist on a small piece of stage; Eventually, several scrims slip and they are joined by a full band with three backing singers.

“I wanted you to feel like it’s in the studio for me,” Adele told the multi-generational audience, describing a creative process she said begins with her at the piano — “We just play around until something feels good or feels sad” – before she and her collaborators add additional sounds and textures to their songs.

A stage and audience in Las Vegas during a singer's performance

Weekends With Adele, as this series of 32 gigs through the end of March is called, strikes an exquisite balance of personal storytelling and Las Vegas glitz.

(Kevin Mazur/Getty Images)

There are eye-catching set pieces that are in keeping with Vegas tradition. During “Hold On” twinkling paper lanterns descended from the ceiling; “Set Fire to the Rain” had a curtain of water and a grand piano that slowly burst into flames. Huge screens on either side of the wide stage showed extreme close-ups of Adele to anyone not on her walkway. And for Skyfall, her lusciously dramatic James Bond theme, a couple dozen string players materialized in a Hollywood Squares-esque grid behind her (though it wasn’t clear if the players were in person or on video).

Yet the relatively straightforward presentation placed the emphasis on Adele’s music – on the unashamedly detailed explorations of heartbreak in songs like “Don’t You Remember” and “Someone Like You,” and of course her vocals, which are in a class of their own with special effects. Adele has frequently spoken out about her stage fright — “Maybe it’s a bit shaky tonight because my nerves are out of control,” she admitted on Friday — but here she seemed to effortlessly display the range of her instrument: soft and sultry in “Hello “. snarling and hurt on Rumor Has It, breezy and blissfully about it on Send My Love (to Your New Lover).

The material from “30” sounded particularly good in the Colosseum. “Oh My God” was darkly funny, with a welcome hint of camp in Adele’s delivery, while a boastful “I Drink Wine” was perhaps the most relaxed thing she seemed to do all evening – albeit her wine glass, she told the crowd , filled with hot honey instead of wine. Inspired by her divorce and the instability she fears her young son’s life brought with it, “30” captures Adele in a raw, state of apprehension; it was moving to see her pick up on that turmoil with a little wisdom.

Indeed, what makes an Adele show such an emotional experience is the emotion she processes in real time, and as always, that applied to both her rambling and foul-mouthed banter between songs and the songs themselves. (With just over “Weekends With Adele” is two hours longer than a typical Vegas gig.) On Friday, she was hilarious as she discussed her anticipation for this weekend’s “The Walking Dead” finale and how she convinced her set designer to to build a chair onto the stage because a herniated disc, which she assumed was a herniated disc, has progressed to her left knee.

At one point, she used a t-shirt gun to shoot merch into the audience, all the while poking fun at her lousy target; Elsewhere, she invited a woman with an obstructed view of the balcony – one of the “worst seats in this house,” as Adele called it – to take a new seat near the stage, where the singer continued to chat the woman about where she came from. Adele even sincerely thanked the suits at Caesars Corporate Sound: “A lot has been written about me since I canceled those shows and I’m telling you 90% of it is absolutely, completely fabricated,” she said. “There were rumors that I was moving to hotels and theaters and all that and they never asked any questions.”

Adele said this as her band prepared to ramp up “Rolling in the Deep,” which had the feel of a closing number with its pounding beat and familiar chorus. But Adele added one more tune to wrap up Friday’s show: the lush and romantic “Love Is a Game,” which also ends “30” on a note of happily foolish optimism.

“I’m gonna remember that night for the rest of my damn life,” she said of her band playing her out. “Better late than never.”

https://www.latimes.com/entertainment-arts/music/story/2022-11-19/adele-las-vegas-caesars-palace-residency-opening Review: Adele opens her long-delayed residency in Las Vegas

Sarah Ridley

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