sat 13/07/2024

Adele, Hammersmith Apollo | reviews, news & interviews

Adele, Hammersmith Apollo

Adele, Hammersmith Apollo

This soulful lady is back on top form if still a bit raspy after her illness

Adele: it's her honesty that impresses time and again

Fresh from a fortnight of disappointments, Adele showed she was back on top form in London this evening. Having missed out on the Mercury Music Prize and cancelled a string of dates on her nationwide tour suffering from a chest infection, today heralded better things for the Tottenham-born warbler after she was nominated for three MTV music awards. Not that a bit of sadness is a bad thing for this pair of lungs, mind.

Her albums 21 and 19, sung lustily in an emotively crackling contralto, has earned the 23-year-old a reputation for depth and maturity well beyond her years.

Explaining that she’d been ill and asking us to forgive her for being “a bit raspy still”, she opened with “Hometown Glory”, a hit from her debut album fully of smoky tones and doo-whops, before launching into some of the better-known tracks from 21. She told us proudly (“Although I’m not one to brag”) that the record, released just seven months ago, hit 10 million sales last week. An astonishing achievement. Having stayed at the Number One spot in the albums chart for just shy of three months and having placed Adele alongside The Beatles as the only other artist to have two top five hits in the UK Official Singles Chart and the Albums chart simultaneously, you can imagine the brain-splitting applause that greeted hits “Don’t You Remember” and “Set Fire to the Rain”. Everybody in the audience knew every word and belted ‘em out.

As she soulfully crooned her way through the best part of 21, the crowd went wild for “Rumour Has It” and “One and Only” before she pulled off an impressively zany cover of The Cure’s “Love Song”. There was a reminder of how far she’d come as a songwriter when she launched into her breakthrough hit, “Chasing Pavements”, which paled in comparison to the heartfelt ballads she’s progressed to.

Despite having said on The Jonathan Ross Show only a couple of weeks ago that she “still likes playing smallish venues” not big stadiums, Hammersmith Apollo with a capacity of 5,000+ was bursting at the seams. After “Take It All” an audience member was overcome by the sweltering temperatures and Adele sounded the alarm when they fainted, noticing the commotion slap-bang in the middle of the vast crowd, and shouting, “Medic! Medic! Somebody’s fainted,” before doing her best Head Girl impression and ordering the sea of people to part to let the person be stretchered off.

Clearly 10 million people can’t be wrong. It is her humanity that gets you

Unlike other platinum-selling artists who rely on hoopla and circus tricks to pull off large-scale shows, Adele appeared diminutive on the wide stage accompanied only by a handful of musicians. She’d applied a lot of her signature eye shadow and plenty of hairspray, but she had oomph enough to fill the space with her music, warmly coy character and throaty laugh.

Her willingness to engage with the audience is what sets her apart. I’ve never heard so many calls of “I love you!” from the crowd. She answered them all, waved back, seeming truly pleased to be there and regaling us all with a little too much information about her hapless love life.

It is her honesty that impresses critics time and again. Not being a particular Adele fan I went along prepared to be as underwhelmed as I was on first listening to 21. The record was nice, ballady, samey in places and quite possibly a bit safe, I thought. But watching this young pro weave her way through the strains of sadness she so energetically peddles, I was won over. Clearly 10 million people can’t be wrong. It is her humanity that gets you.

She ended her set with a tribute to Amy Winehouse (“Such a joker, I loved her”), her late Brit school classmate. Having kicked her shoes off and still clasping a cold cup of tea she confessed the last song wasn’t really her last one and that she’d be back in a minute before dashing off stage and returning to perform “Someone Like You”.

Listen to Adele sing 'Someone Like You' from her album 21

Her willingness to engage with the audience is what sets her apart. I’ve never heard so many calls of 'I love you!' from the crowd

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I was there, it was awesome!

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