Adele Melbourne review: Stuff the paparazzi, this superstar is keeping it real
Etihad Stadium, Melbourne, Australia
Adele has made a trademark of her girl-next-door meets glamour vibe.
As she wrapped up the first of two Melbourne shows on the final leg of her debut Australian tour, these apparently contradictory qualities were not just front and centre, they all but confirmed her as a performer for our times.
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Here is a woman who glides across the stage in a dusky pink sequinned dress from the gods, her voice big enough to match a sizeable stadium, delivering 18 songs flawlessly and with an effortless grace – punctuated with many a warm smile.
And then she opens her Cockney mouth and tells us that the beautiful dress is actually a disgusting hovel for dead bugs, swimming in the oceans of sweat emanating from her armpits.
In an era where real girls next door are hung up on curating idealised, Instagram-friendly versions of themselves, Adele is keeping it real.
"I have managed to avoid your paparazzi like the plague," she said – apparently thanks to some clever decoy vehicles which misled our snappers as to her whereabouts.
"There hasn't been one paparazzi shot of me in Australia ... I think Justin Bieber got the lot of it."
Thus was framed a special, private (for 75,000 people) space in which to deliver a stunning, satisfying, pulling-out-all the stops performance that reminded us why we humans are inclined to put some people (quite literally) on pedestals after all.
It's about talent – not just for belting out a tune but for connecting with an audience and bringing people together.
This she has in spades, and it's worthy of the retro glamour she pays homage to – from that drop-dead-gorgeous frock to the influences in her music: the tambourine-laden, '60s soul ballad-inspired One And Only; the upbeat, 70s rock'n'roll feel of I'll Be Waiting.
It's talent that should be celebrated, and shared, and basked in, and to that end, this concert went the extra mile.
The circular layout with the stage in the centre of the arena meant the audience was reflected back at itself across the stadium, as well as occasionally on the (also circular) screen above the stage. Some crafty live camera work and editing saw live footage of Adele spliced with evocative, pre-recorded footage to great effect.
There was the adorable "kiss cam" singling out couples (especially gay ones) to smooch on camera; there were inspirational notes written on confetti that rained down on the audience; a personal note once again stuck to the back of a chair in the nosebleed section; there was vision of Flinders Street Station and other Melbourne landmarks scrolled across the screen during Hometown Glory; and towards the end of her two-hour set she swaddled herself in the Australian flag.
Oh, and Adele has a gun that shoots T-shirts. She blasted four of these into the crowd.
There was a shout-out – received loud and clear – to the people watching out the windows of their high-rise Docklands apartments; and whose heart didn't melt when a young girl called Saphyre was invited on stage to sing with Adele? Saphyre promptly launched into a reprise of the opening number, Hello, with the (impeccable) backing band eventually coming in behind her.
"I'll see you in the charts," said Adele.
It's been reported that Adele rakes in a minimum of $1 million for one of these stadium shows, with some punters forking out multiple hundreds of dollars for a ticket depending on where they're seated.
But there really was a lot of love in the air – not to mention plumes of smoke and actual fireworks. You'd be hard pressed to find anyone who felt short-changed.
- The Age