Adele at BST Hyde Park review: 'Glamourous and glorious'

Last night's dazzling homecoming gig highlighted just how many of the icon's best songs aren’t slow and sentimental, writes Attitude's Jamie Tabberer


Words: Jamie Tabberer; picture: By Gareth Cattermole

To actually want – no, will - the heavens to open during a gig is unheard of. But that was the mood in the audience at Adele’s stunning homecoming gig in Hyde Park, London last night.

We actually succeeded, too, to a point: as the star belted out majestic kiss-off song 'Fire to the Rain', and waves of intensity and a wall of sound crashed around the park, a light shower briefly descended on the 65,000 people in attendance. It was a divine moment, and for many of her die-hard fans - some of whom had travelled from overseas to see their idol - almost holy. Several of the people around me burst into tears.

I wasn’t expecting to be as moved by the concert as I was. The relentless ubiquity of Adele’s music over the last 15 years has turned me off it, slightly. (Particularly the thunderous, overbearing 'Hello'.) But last night was a reminder of her quality control; of the large handful of exceptional tracks she's steadily accumulated, that you could never imagine anyone but her singing. Particularly the gargantuan 'Rolling in the Deep', her biggest-selling single and the set’s climax, which she all but roared.

It also highlighted how many of her best songs aren’t slow and sentimental: 'Oh My God', 'Rumour Has It', 'Water Under the Bridge' and even 'Skyfall' have an irresistible, urgent energy about them, and whipped the audience into a frenzy. Concert-goers were, however, hushed and spellbound for flawless piano ballads like 'Easy on Me' and 'Someone Like You'. The star’s voice, when fully exposed like that, is undeniably on point. She knows how to project, but she can also sing elegantly - a sense underscored by the sight of her tumbling blonde curls, and ribbon attached to her ballgown, gently blowing in the wind.
What I'm about to suggest would never, ever happen, I know, but I would have swapped out the sappier, more irksome moments from her discog (that just so happen to be among her biggest hits) for the cooler, edgier material from her first era, like 'Cold Shoulder'. I can take or leave 'I Drink Wine' and 'Send My Love (To Your New Lover)', for example, which have always struck me as safe, overly adult-orientated pop music. That the transcendent 'Hometown Glory' didn’t get an airing, when it could have epitomised the entire night, was inexplicable; the only song from 19 she did perform was the admittedly heavenly Bob Dylan cover 'Make You Feel My Love', which was reliably beautiful.
For all her unrivalled singing and songwriting prowess, I’d argue that Adele shines brightest between songs, when bantering with the audience. She’s funny, self-deprecating, sharp – you can see why she’d get on with Alan Carr and Graham Norton – as well as extremely warm and engaged with her audience. For someone who rarely gives interviews, she’s also remarkably open about her life while on stage. Meanwhile, LGBTQ fans and Pride in London revellers were doubtless cheered to see her don a Progress Pride flag for emotional closer 'When We Were Young'.

I actually remember seeing Adele perform at Heaven nightclub on the night of Pride in 2011: a minimal set; no bells, no whistles. It was fabulous, but she seemed nervous. Last night, on the other hand, she was utterly in control and goddess-like - formidably powerful, but kind with it. We’re lucky to have her.

The Attitude July/August issue featuring exclusive interviews the cast of Queer As Folk is out now.