Adele at the Palladium: Concert Review

Chris Godley
Adele packs passion, drama and laughs into every moment of her 80-minute show, even when she's not singing.    

During her string of L.A. shows, the "Rolling in the Deep" singer entertained sold-out crowds that included the likes of Robert Pattinson, Jessica Simpson and Dwight Yoakam both with her vocals and saucy banter between songs.

Approaching Los Angeles’ Palladium on Wednesday night, you might have thought the Grateful Dead was in town, what with all the desperate looking music fans crowding Sunset Boulevard on the hunt for a miracle ticket. Of course, the true marvel was British singer Adele, who’s riding an incredible wave of popularity this year -- to the tune of some 2.9 million albums sold.

It was Adele’s second sold out area show this week, following a much buzzed about bow at the Greek Theater on Monday which drew the likes of Robert Pattinson and Jessica Simpson. This show, at the art deco nightclub which opened in 1940 with a performance by Tommy Dorsey and his orchestra, also had its share of famous faces in the crowd, including Ryan O’Neal, Dita Von Teese, executive and producer Rick Rubin (who worked on three songs from Adele’s Columbia release 21), country legend Dwight Yoakam (spotted chatting with opener Wanda Jackson before the show), Nick Jonas with girlfriend Delta GoodremMark Foster of Foster the People and blogger Perez Hilton, but all eyes were transfixed on the stunning star.

Centered underneath a dozen floating lampshades, Adele began her set with the song “Hometown Glory,” the last track of her 2008 debut, 19, and transitioned into “I’ll Be Waiting” off of 21. Looking the part of a seasoned pro, she commanded the microphone with seemingly effortless ease -- her vocals both billowing and serene. On the ballad “Do You Remember,” a sparse arrangement put the spotlight on Adele’s blistering delivery and moved audience members to tears. The singer acknowledged the collective depression where called for, like the song “Turning Tables.” “This one’s really sad -- that’s why I’m here,” she said in the prelude, noting some irony. “I like to think of myself as a bit of laugh.”

Indeed, even with that exceptional voice, the banter was just as entertaining, and ranged from autobiographical backstory (the anatomy of a break-up in musical form is 21, after all) to bewilderment over just how far she’d come. Introducing “If It Hadn’t Been for Love,” Adele remarked, “I can't f--king wait to get married.”  For “Turning Tables,” which she wrote with Ryan Tedder, she noted a sort of dislike of the hit songwriter when they first met over Dim Sum in New York City. “I was, like, ‘Who the f--k does he think he is?’” By the end of the meal, she added, they “turned the table upside down… I wouldn't do that these days. I'm a professional.”

Adele got to test that notion one verse in. “I f--ked up in the middle, let me start over,” she cracked, to the delight of the crowd getting increasingly tipsy. And cheers to that, said Adele, who confessed that she’s only good at dancing when intoxicated but is also staying dry while on the road. “Have a drink for me, I'm not allowed when I'm touring,” she told the crowd, making mention of the spate of shows she had to cancel in June after losing her voice, including the very one they were attending.

Adele took on several covers during the 80-minute show, among them a song by little known Nashville band the Steel Drivers, and the Cure’s “Lovesong,” which appears on 21. Of the 1989 hit, Adele explained that she would have a hard time, “Trying to remember a moment in my life so easily soundtracked as this song,” adding that it was Rubin’s idea to cover it.

Picking up the tempo, two background singers provided the percussive rhythm to Adele’s latest single “Rumour Has It” with handclaps and snapping fingers, while the meringue vibe of “Right As Rain” came courtesy of her six-member band. Adele closed the set with her breakout hit “Chasing Pavements,” the emotional roller coaster that first introduced her to American audiences, followed by Bob Dylan’s “Make You Feel My Love,” which she dedicated to the late Amy Winehouse. For the latter, Adele asked that audience members pull out their phones as a sort of impromptu vigil. One guy held an iPad above his head.

Earlier in the show, the 21-year-old took stock of her multiple visits to L.A., from an early showcase at Hotel Café to a performance at the Sunset Strip’s The Roxy then the Wiltern, Hollywood Bowl and Greek Theater -- seeds planted long ago that contributed directly to her standing today as 2011’s best-selling artist. Appropriately, the song that helped clinched that status, “Rolling in the Deep,” was her final number. “This song changed my life,” she said, “this album is all about you.”

As if on cue, she dove into her own deep, bringing the microphone down to the people and letting the fans take lead in a singalong. The backbone to the chorus, with its train-like rhythm and stinging admonishment -- “you’re gonna wish you never had met me” -- hits home for many of the 3,000 crammed together and chanting in unison, though they could never say the same of the woman before them. 

Set List:

Hometown Glory
I'll Be Waiting
Don't You Remember
Turning Tables
Set Fire To The Rain
If It Hadn't Been For Love (Steel Drivers cover)
My Same
Take It All
Rumour Has It
Right As Rain
One & Only
Lovesong
Chasing Pavements
Make You Feel My Love 

Encore: 

Someone Like You
Rolling In The Deep

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