I’m not going to lie – I didn’t want to go to the Adele concert. It’s nothing personal, I had just had a really long day; catching a flight into Montreal at 6am, that flight being delayed an hour and a half, and add to that the indignities of traffic in Montreal – dealing with the awkward shuffling, long lines, and the faint stench of stale beer just didn’t seem appealing to me.
Still, I went – not just because I had a ticket, but I felt drawn to the Bell Centre. It’s hard to explain, but I found myself in my seat by way of some subconscious, magnetic force; and I don’t regret it one bit. Just as I began to consider the barbarity of cramming tens of thousands of people in chairs the size of children’s toys, the lights cut out and Adele emerged from the center stage to thunderous applause; no opening act, no cheap gimmicks, just the resounding echo of her sultry voice singing “Hello.”
As the night went on, it became clear that people who lament the state of the music industry “these days” are either blissfully ignorant or wilfully blind. Adele, performing last night, was the antithesis of every pop-diva’s arena tour. Don’t get me wrong – I love the aforementioned tours – but Adele, who changed costumes not once, proved that it’s still possible, in 2016, to earn the status of a global pop star without scandal, stunt, or overproduced drum beats.
Reviews like these tend to force something like a “highlights” section so I don’t have to list all the songs Adele performed which is uninteresting to both write and read – but it’s really, really difficult to single out any of the best songs from a performance like Adele gave last night. Some memorable songs include her cover of Bob Dylan’s “Make You Feel My Love,” or her encore of “When We Were Young” as pictures of Adele’s past were projected onto a giant screen behind her.
Without a doubt, however, what made the concert so spectacular was the bits of conversation interspersed between the songs. Somehow, Adele made the concert feel both bombastic and extremely intimate – jokes about ‘poo’ and ‘belching’ alongside gigantic love ballads. In contrast to the carefully cultivated celebrity image of other artists, Adele stood on stage without script or the dictatorial energy of some celebrities who try to control the direction and mood of the concert. She took a group of mothers on stage, paused to take selfies, sang happy birthday to a fan, and made jokes all night long that would fly in the face of everything you might learn in “How to be a Pop Star 101.”
When all is said and done, it’s impossible to translate the emotion of last night’s performance into words. I’ve tried my best, but I’m sure I didn’t do it justice. I’ve been to a lot of concerts in my day (my day? I’m 22 – relax), but Adele last night will occupy a significant place in my memory for a long time.