Before Adele even took a step on stage Wednesday night at the Xcel Energy Center, the cards were stacked against her. Laryngitis forced her to cancel two shows here (not to mention the rest of her U.S. tour). Rumors swirled on the details of her make-up concert, or if there would be one at all. Then she swapped a Minneapolis venue with a St. Paul one — which, in turn, meant an intimate show was now transformed into one with stadium seating.
The crowd certainly had their reasons to be skeptical.
But then, the curtains opened to reveal a modestly dressed, stunning Adele, proudly swinging her new, “Adele, No. 21″ Minnesota Wild jersey in the air, as if she just purchased it herself from the gift shop. Just like that, all was forgiven — and almost immediately forgotten.
Singing “Hometown Glory” off her first album, Adele teetered that jersey back-and-forth on her finger before finally setting it down on a hook next to her stool — a place it would remain for the entire show.
Before getting any further, however, Adele needed to address the elephant in the room. She paused to apologize for the mess created because of her illness and vowed to make the Xcel “feel like First Avenue.”
It was a promise that certainly seemed unrealistic, as the sold-out crowd of roughly 10,000 reached to the highest rows of the venue, but a promise she certainly tried her hardest to keep. Throughout the show, Adele would ask for the arena lights to be turned on so she could see her somewhat stranded First Avenue ticket buyers on the floor of the house. She’d give a wave, apologize again for the mess, while thanking them for their understanding, and at one point, she even granted the request of a fan who held up a sign asking if she could come on stage to get a picture.
That’s the thing about Adele — she’s 100 percent genuine. If she feels like stopping her show to take a photo, she will. If she doesn’t have her mic perfectly set and needs to change it at the beginning of the show, she will. If she wants to send a quick message to her BFF, whose “hen party” (bachelorette party) she’s missing this weekend, she’ll do so. And if she wants to share with thousands of people what she really thinks of a man who broke her heart, you better believe she will.
She told the crowd she had finally made peace with the man responsible for all but one song on her highly successful album, “21,” which is almost entirely about losing the one you love. But that one song — One and Only — that was about someone else. And there certainly wasn’t a lick of peace being had with him. Adele had some choice words — not fit for print — regarding this heartbreaker, who is 30 and still lives with his mother.
Adele, always the charmer, quickly amended that last statement, “No offense if you live with your mom. You didn’t break my heart.”
There’s a quality to Adele that is absolutely delightful and immensely refreshing. While she fully admits to being beyond nervous in the limelight, she has a calming presence that makes her incredibly lovable and gives her a down-to-earth charm that can’t be faked. In fact, there’s nothing fake about her. She sits on a simple stage — adorned with retro lampshades — in a plain, black dress (she notes she’s “been wearing black since she discovered Johnny Cash) and she lets her talent do the talking. There’s no need for flashy dancers, bright and colorful costume changes or one piece of pyrotechnics. Just a microphone and that goosebump-raising voice.
There’s no doubt that the Xcel couldn’t have possibly had two performers back-to-back that were such polar opposites. Tuesday night’s Katy Perry concert, while not comparable to Adele by any means, just seemed to highlight the fact that what Adele does is truly a gift. She can captivate an audience in a seemingly effortless way. Her record-breaking album can’t even hold a candle to her booming, yet breathtaking live vocals. She evokes emotion with her singing, writes lyrics that are relatable and reaches such a wide range of fans that I swear I’ve never seen so many different groups of people at one concert.
Performing several hits off her latest album (like the saucy, sarcastic “Rumour Has It” and punchy “Set Fire to the Rain”), Adele never took herself too seriously, making jokes about the fact that by-and-large, her songs are pretty depressing and sad.
She belted out the gut-wrenching “Turning Tables,” played a few covers, including Bonnie Raitt’s “I Can’t Make You Love Me” before leading into a tribute to the late Amy Winehouse. Adele asked the audience to lift up their cell phones (the 2011 version of the lighter) and shine a light up to the ceiling, “so Amy can see them from upstairs.”
With the Xcel lit up like a room full of 21st century fireflies, Adele began an emotional version of her cover, “Make You Feel My Love,” a song she said perfectly describes her message to Amy. “I always get chills singing that song,” she said.
After a short break, Adele returns to the stage for an encore. She acknowledges that when most performers return, they bust into a song that gets people moving — but not her. Instead, she chose to kick off the encore with “Someone Like You,” a song she said she wrote while drawing herself a bath one night — how mundane, she jokes. For one reason or another, she said, this song more than any other really resonates with people. And with that, the simple accompanied piano and her striking vocals elevate the song to another dimension.
Adele closed out the evening with her mega-hit (and yes, slightly overplayed) bass drum power anthem, “Rolling in the Deep.” She shared the final tune with the audience, splitting the chorus, and giving the song a new injection of passion, then took her final bow. And with that, she grabbed her beloved new jersey and left the same way she came — 100 percent Adele, no matter the venue.