Adele – Mt Smart Stadium March 23, 2017

For sheer entertainment value, Adele proved last night at Auckland’s Mt Smart Stadium that those hundreds of dollars shelled out by adoring fans were, indeed, well spent.

This was the first of three shows at Mt Smart and the final run of Adele’s 2016 tour…as she mentioned, she had already done 108 shows.

If there was any fatigue, it didn’t show. The woman was on form for the entire two hours, her trademark cackle punctuating her long, meandering, and very entertaining between-song banter.

The anticipation of seeing Adele was possibly the highlight of the evening. We, the audience, sat transfixed as a videotape of her two closed eyes taunted us from the circular stage, located in the centre of the stadium.

Then, as anticipation reach fever pitch, the eyes opened, and screaming began as the diva made her grand entrance. She looked dazzling in her sequinned gown and she sounded fantastic as she sang what is arguably her finest song, Hello.

The one song proved why Adele has become such a phenomenon…she’s clearly a powerful vocalist and her voice had no problem filling every corner of the massive stadium. The song itself is full of drama, passion and nostalgia, ingredients that would make up the best bits of tonight’s show.

The only thing missing was that personality and there was plenty of that to follow.

After Hometown Glory (with stunning footage of downtown Auckland) and One And Only, Adele addressed the crowd for the first time, telling us how she preferred Auckland’s weather to Australia’s where she was, “sweating my tits off”.

We were then instructed to sing Happy Birthday to her make-up man Michael Ashton, a native of Hamilton.

Then it was back to the music…I’ll Be Waiting and Rumour Has It sounded good, but Water Under The Bridge and I Miss You revealed the one weakness in Adele’s show…the lack of consistently great songs. I Miss You was particularly turgid.

Not that it mattered much.

Adele herself may be aware of this situation as it was after this that she really ratcheted up the between-song banter. She turned an insect stage invasion to her advantage, making the presence of a “hornet” and two “beetles” the subject of a running gag that eventually culminated into outright physical comedy as the singer crawled around on all fours chasing down the creepy crawlies. At one point she brought up a 15-year-old fan to help her chase off the bugs and took a selfie along the way.

Later, she told us of her adoration of Alison Kraus and discussed the pros and cons of TV series Neighbours vs Home And Away.

Normally, this would be a distraction from the music, but in this case, it was welcome with the songs often sounding like an afterthought.

There were some musical highlights along the way.

Adele’s emotional tribute to her London compatriots after the day’s terror attack with Bob Dylan’s Make You Feel My Love was beautiful, proving what she can do given a really fine song to work with.

And Skyfall, the James Bond theme, complete with a ring of male singers around the perimeter of the stage was also excellent.

I should point out that the band and any backing vocalists were in a sort of pit below Adele and most invisible to the audience and to each other. Kudos to them for playing so well together without much eye contact, but I did miss watching the musicians playing…it’s one of the joys of going to a concert and that element was mostly absent.

But these are minor quibbles.

Adele as a stage performer is almost larger than life. She had no trouble keeping everyone entertained and the final run of songs…Set Fire To The Rain, When We Were Young, Rolling In The Deep and Someone Like You made sure that the show ended with almost the same level of excitement as it started, the fireworks acting as the icing on the cake.

Oh, and did I mention the T-Shirt gun? Genius!

Marty Duda

Adele set list:

  1. Hello
  2. Hometown Glory
  3. One And Only
  4. I’ll Be Writing
  5. Rumour Has It
  6. Water Under The Bridge
  7. I Miss You
  8. Skyfall
  9. Don’t You Remember
  10. Make You Feel My Love
  11. Send My Love (To Your New Lover)
  12. Sweetest Devotion
  13. Chasing Pavements
  14. Take It All
  15. Set Fire To The Rain
  16. When We Were Young
  17. Rolling In The Deep
  18. Someone Like You