Album Reviews

Album Review: Adele – Live at the Royal Albert Hall

on December 01, 2011, 8:00am
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Shortly after Adele performed at “Royal Albert fucking Hall,” the songstress was sidelined with on-going throat problems, yet her packaged CD/DVD shows few signs of the vocal troubles she’s been up against this year. Backed by a live band, including a string section and backup singers, Adele brings the dramatics of her two albums to life, with a bit of humorous, cuss-filled banter in between songs. Fans are given another reason to root for her while she recuperates, as her voice stands out in a sea of Autotuned “divas”.

Opening song “Hometown Glory” immediately sets the tone, as she proves that her talent requires little else but a piano, and Adele’s soul-powered voice is enough to fill the Royal Albert Hall five times over. “Chasing Pavements” is a highlight from her debut, while the Bob Dylan-penned “Make You Feel My Love” serves here as a tribute to Amy Winehouse. Adele asks those in attendance to light up their cell phones in memory to the late singer. As a disco ball swirls across the starry ocean-sized audience, it’s a truly touching moment, especially as Adele herself has acknowledged the influence Winehouse has had on her career.

She covers The Steeldrivers (“If It Hadn’t Been for Love”) and Bonnie Raitt (“I Can’t Make You Love Me”) and both come across as heartfelt and stunning, yet it’s her own songs and self-deprecating, humorous storytelling found on the full concert DVD which find her truly connecting with the audience. Before launching into a “rare, happy song” entitled “I’ll Be Waiting”, Adele charmingly lets everyone know, “I’m pretty miserable, really.”

The bulk of the setlist centers around her record-breaking album, 21, which includes many of the real gems she’s got in her catalog thus far. She prefaces “Take It All” by saying, “It’s got some high notes, so bear with me. I’ve had a respiratory infection.” It’s a bit of a shaky performance, especially since it draws the listener back to her health issues, whether directly vocally related or not. “Rumour Has It”, a tongue-in-cheek, “takin’ the piss” kind of song aimed at her rumor-believing friends, brings the tempo up a notch, although it’s hard to deny that the hook of the song, performed late in the set, finds her voice sounding a bit strained.

The incredibly moving “Someone Like You” should have been the final number –  while she listened to the audience sing back the chorus of the emotionally charged song, Adele was left in tears, revealing her genuine sincerity and gratefulness. Instead, “Rolling in the Deep” is played last, and is admittedly nasally, although the crowd’s hand claps and singing help to energize it into a fitting finale.  Nonetheless, both of her last songs, which served as her encore, are moving moments and a definitive celebration of how far she’s already come.

The 90-minute DVD is beautifully shot, if a bit too quick with the cutaways, and includes all of the between-song banter, giving people a chance to see her cracking quips about her ex-boyfriends, cackling like the best of them, and throwing up the middle finger. It further enhances the comfortable setting of a “cup of tea and a take-away” vibe she wishes to portray to her fans, so as to maintain intimacy no matter the size of the venue. Also included is an eight-minute, black and white, behind-the-scenes look at her, sans makeup and in hair curlers, on the day of the show. It’s interjected with short fan interviews as they wait in line for what will be Adele’s already classic performance.

Although her witty remarks and expletive-filled jokes might cause some of her mom fan base displeasure, it also makes her the most real singer out there, while emphasizing her purpose: she might have suffered some wounds in love, but has a spunky attitude to fall back on when she falls out of love. Unlike Beyoncé, she’s not pining for the all-around sweetheart title, and thankfully, is as far from the awful Katy Perry methods of whipped cream-shooting boobs as it gets. Then again, it just shows that she’s in a class of her own.

In regards to today’s female singers, some might say she fills a niche, but lucky for her, it’s a wide-ranging field in which she doesn’t have to pander to just one type of fan. Her music appeals to those who like a good pop song, those who feel rhythm and blues in their blood, and those who just happen to like to sip on their lattés with a bit of heartbreak tearing away at their insides. Another live Adele concert might not come about until 2013, but Live at the Royal Albert Hall should help her find new fans and keep the devoted ones wishing for her speedy recovery.

Essential Tracks: “Hometown Glory”, ”Turning Tables”, “Someone Like You”

8 comments

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Brendan O’Connor
December 2, 2011 at 1:48 am

Solid review of the DVD. I just got my copy and I love it so much. If you need more convincing beyond this check out the trailer for yourself. http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=WJm4xxa9Cts

Kevin Corcoran Jr
December 2, 2011 at 3:19 am

If you have any inkling to see Adele live, watch this DVD. It will invoke chills as you crank your home stereo to unheard of decibels and adjust your high definition quality television. It will absolutely, positively BLOW YOUR MIND. Adele is truly an inspiration and wonder. Every time I watch her sing, it is proof that some people are born to something with their life… hers of course is singing. Standing ovation, 5 stars, two thumbs up, and everything in between… this video will leave you breathless. Enjoy!

Mz_velez87
December 2, 2011 at 3:37 am

I got this DVD/CD as a birthday present.. && I absolutely love it!! I saw her in concert when she came to Las Vegas.. Nd I was in awe. She’s so beautiful && has the best personality ever! On her CD she can come off as such a depressed person lol but she’s just so bubbly!! I truly hope she gets better soon cuz I want to be able to see her in concert again! Oh && I HIGHLY recommend this video for all the Adele lovers!! I LOVE U ADELE<3

Matt Boswell
December 7, 2011 at 5:15 am

This DVD is the most spectacular thing. It really is like seeing her live. I definitely recommend watching it to anyone. Everything about it is so powerful and so perfect. Good thing to keep in mind with Christmas right around the corner.

EllieB
December 12, 2011 at 3:59 am

Having seen her perform live twice (once in a smaller venue & once in an arena) I can say that her live performance is truly spectacular.  I couldn’t get into the first three songs on the DVD as they didn’t sound like “true” Adele to me, but that soon changed for the rest of the DVD.  I was enchanted once again by her stellar performance.  Her witty banter and love of cuss words left me in stitches (too bad there is no subtitle option to assist with her wicked cockney accent).  I wish her continued success… She’s absolutely amazing :o)

Lekkerwokken
January 13, 2012 at 6:04 am

I was hoping for the more powerfull versions of Adele’s songs but was surprized by the more mellow sound. Most irritating, and unfortunately ever lasting with the lifespan of the blu ray are Adele’s in between comments and general rattle-ons that seem to last forever, and ever. ‘What was she thinking fully aware that the material was being recorded? I would recommend this album for the true Adele fans who can also absorb 180 words/minute every time playing this disc.

DDC
February 7, 2012 at 11:52 pm

Fantanstic vocals, brilliant lyrics, great music and love the emotion it envoques when she sings. Havent stopped listening to the cover of “if it hadnt been for love” She is a legend at such a young age and this blu ray depicts it well. One of my best purchases inspite of her lack of class when not singing. She still young and needs to learn to refrain from using her mouth when not singing. 4.5 out of 5

Guest
June 8, 2012 at 8:50 am

Bit late I know …but I only got to see the DVD live at Royal Albert Hall. There was an article describing Adele as a cockney-barmaid…that certainly rings true. But, when she sings….wow. One and Only performance did it for me.