Better than… wallowing in your post-breakup remedy of whiskey, cigarettes and ice cream cake.
Adele is chatty, which is a welcome change from bands that will play their songs and awkwardly leave without saying a word.
With her thick cockney accent and distinct cackle, she enjoyed bantering with her fans Monday night at the Greek Theatre. She especially liked quipping about the infamous ex-boyfriend that inspired most of her chart-dominating 21. Since being forced to postpone nine tour dates last June due to laryngitis, maybe she's making up for lost time with this month's rescheduled shows.
Her throat issues now gone, she seemed happy and at ease, mostly. “My nerves are settling so I'll start talking rubbish now,” she warned us.
Famously possessing a catalog of breakup songs, she lightened the mood with a few backstories, like how “Take It All” was written for an ex-boyfriend — who broke up with her soon after she performed it for him. Collectively, the crowd aww-ed. “I'm fine now,” Adele said. “I'm playing the Greek Theatre. Where the fuck is he?”
The diva-in-the-making wore a glittery black dress to go with her poufy hair and smoky eyes. Backed by a five-piece band and two backup singers on a stage adorned with 21 antique lampshades, the vibe was that of an old attic transformed into an intimate lounge. Black-and-white screens showed Adele singing as if she were on an American Bandstand-like TV show.
It's obvious why she's often called an “old soul.” At times, she seemed like a gray-haired, doleful blues singer. During the ballad “One and Only,” she shut her eyes and for a few seconds looked down in silence. She had drifted into a daydream mid-song, she later explained.
Other times, she was a candid, cursing 23-year-old pop star. After singing “fuck off” song “Rumor Has It,” she gave the audience a defiant look and two middle fingers.
On the heels of Amy Winehouse' death, it was expected that Adele would pay tribute to one of her inspirations, and she did. She encouraged the crowd to raise their cell phones or lighters up in the air. “Keep your lights up so she can see from upstairs,” she said, right before dedicating Bob Dylan's “Make You Feel My Love” to the late singer.
Early in the show, Adele semi-promised to sing INXS' “Never Tear Us Apart” during the encore, but alas, that never happened. But the roaring thumps and evangelical growls of “Rolling in the Deep” more than made up for the absent cover everyone wanted to hear. To honor her legendary opening act Wanda Jackson, she reminded us that her ubiquitous hit wouldn't have existed if it weren't for “Funnel of Love.”
But it was Adele's charming anecdotes that made the night, like the ones about her experiences in the City of Angels. “I always feel like such a Londoner when I'm in L.A.,” she admitted. “And I broke up with my ex here. That was fun.”
Personal bias: Earlier this year I didn't believe the hype about Adele. That was a mistake.
The crowd: Unsurprisingly, women of all shapes and colors. Those wearing stilettos, those wearing sneakers, older Lilith Fair ladies, and girls that take group pics by the restrooms. There were more men than expected, however.
Random notebook dump: Some people there were way too loud and drunk for 1) an Adele concert and 2) a Monday night.
Set list below.
“I'll Be Waiting”
“Don't You Remember”
“Set Fire to the Rain”
“If It Hadn't Been For Love”
“Take It All”
“Rumor Has It”
“Right as Rain”
“One and Only”
“Make You Feel My Love”
“Someone Like You”
“Rolling in the Deep”