Rating: Very Severe
So a bit of a departure from my film reviews, but I also love going to concerts. I get such a thrill from the atmosphere of a pumped up crowd and the thudding music. The louder the crowd and music are, the more I like it. The way the music can make your heart thump and give you a rush of adrenaline is incredible. Anyone who hasn’t been to a concert, you’re missing out!
Yesterday, I went to Adele’s highly anticipated 2nd show in Sydney. This was her first time in Australia touring, and I feel very lucky to have gotten tickets to her sold-out shows. It was a record attendance at ANZ Stadium, with 95,000 people on each of her 2 nights here. Biggest crowds since the Olympics. Out of the 5 concerts I’ve been to (2 Taylor Swift shows, 1 Ed Sheeran and 1 Shawn Mendes), this was my favourite! There are so many reasons as to why it was such an incredible night, and I’m going to try recount the whole thing.
So it all started in November 2016, when Adele first announced that she was going to be touring Australia for the first time. There had been months of speculation beforehand, with rumours circulating that she had planned her tour here already. I was super excited when it was officially announced and the tour date for Sydney fit my schedule. Unfortunately, at the time of when the tickets were released for the Sydney show on 10 March 2017 (at that time, only one show in Sydney was announced), I was overseas and my friends had work. We failed to get tickets as they had sold out in a matter of hours. Fortunately, only about a week later, Adele announced another Sydney show on 11 March and we managed to nab tickets to that one. The tickets were definitely on the pricey side, compared to Taylor Swift’s 1989 concert at the same venue at the end of 2015. For the same price, we got B-reserve for Taylor’s, while we only got C-reserve for Adele. Usually the bigger the venue and the more elaborate the production, the more expensive it becomes. It might also have to do with the fact that Adele has never been here before and no one knows when she will be back, so people were willing to pay more. Regardless, it was well worth it and so the countdown began. Thankfully it was a relatively short wait from when we bought the tickets to when the concert was, only about a 4-month wait.
So fast forward to March and we’re getting all our tickets printed off and organised for the show. The day before the show is when she did her first night in Sydney, and seeing the pictures and videos my friends posted, as well as the extensive coverage on the media, I got really hyped and excited. I’ve been avoiding youtube videos of the show so as to have it all be a huge surprise on the night. With Taylor’s and Ed’s show, I had mostly known what each song performance would be like in terms of production but with Adele’s, I was pretty much in the dark. I knew it had a 360-degree stage and there were going to be fireworks. I had also looked up the setlist beforehand, as she had performed in Perth and Brisbane earlier. An 18 song setlist is pretty much the longest it will get and I was super stoked that she added a couple more songs for us compared to the North American leg of the tour. So I came in with high expectations and I couldn’t wait until Saturday!
So the day arrived. We planned to meet up earlier, since transport was forecast to be a nightmare. The night before, Adele had to postpone her show for nearly an hour because fans were still stuck in traffic. This is even after organisers and transport officials repeatedly warned people to get there early, but I guess either they were genuinely stuck in traffic or just didn’t bother to heed the advice. So I got to the train station at around 5.15pm, and there were already a few Adele concert-goers waiting on the platform. Caught the train, which was still half-empty at this point. Then, as we stopped at more and more stations, the train filled up quickly and by the time we hit the last station, the train was filled to capacity. This was going to be an epic night, I thought to myself.
Off I got from the train, greeted with hundreds of others who had just gotten off the train. Met up with my friends and then walked around to have a look at the stadium. Olympic Park was already buzzing with crowds, which had a pretty wide demographic of ages. There were families who brought young children, there were mothers with their teenage daughters, a lot of couples and then just young adults in groups. I saw people eating their home-made sandwiches wrapped in cling wrap, sitting on the lawn, avoiding the queues outside the numerous food stalls scattered across the grounds. There were a lot of food stalls and I was highly tempted at one point to buy something, just because of the delicious aroma. But everything was overpriced, so I resisted.
After walking around a bit, we found the merchandise stand, which had a reasonably long queue, but not as long as it was later on. I have a tradition of buying a wristband at every concert I go to. Got 5 so far now. Adele’s one was probably not my favourite in terms of design and colour, and it was only the 2016 tour wristbands (they clearly didn’t print new ones for 2017), but it was a nice souvenir of the night regardless. It took nearly 45 minutes in the queue, although it really ought to only have taken 30 if their EFTPOS machine didn’t break down. Seriously people, just pay cash. Anyways, after I bought my wristband, we went off to queue up to get a photo taken in front of Adele’s picture. Then off to our seats we went. Thankfully, they let us keep our water bottles and food. Note to self in the future: buy the merch from inside the stadium, there’s almost no queues. Also, go to the toilets inside the stadium. The queues are much shorter or in some cases, non-existent.
We found our seats after 7pm and at that point, the stadium was probably filled to around 75% capacity. I love the feeling of walking into a huge stadium and taking in the view. It’s breathtaking. I don’t think I could ever get sick of it. I only go to concerts like once a year, so each time, it’s a big deal for me. It’s the rarity of it that makes it so special. Anyways, we walked in, took photos of the whole stadium and looked at the 360-degree stage in the centre. On the giant screens, it had the image of Adele’s eyes closed. I speculated that when she sung ‘Hello’, her eyes would open and the show would begin. Side note: Minutes before the show started, I saw these security guards pushing along this big black stage box into the middle of the circle. I thought it was a little strange at the time, that a box would be pushed so late before the show started. Surely they would’ve set the stage up beforehand. It only fleetingly crossed my mind that it could actually be Adele inside. But as my friend pointed out the day after the show, she was actually in it! She said she gets real sweaty before the show because she’s stuck in that box haha. They even give her an iPad to entertain her while she’s inside. Such an interesting entrance.
Just before 8pm, the lights went out and I could feel my heart beat in excitement. The start of every concert is always my favourite moment, because there’s nothing quite like the thrill of it. The crowd roars, the whole stadium goes dark and Adele’s eyes on the screen opens up (my guess was right). Then the screens go up and Adele starts singing the beginning of ‘Hello’. I love this song to bits and was one of my most anticipated songs of the night. I think the mixture of my excitement and all the new sights and visuals was just too much stimuli for me, that I don’t quite recall how good of a performance ‘Hello’ was. I wish I could go back and appreciate it more. But it was great way to open the whole show.
The next song was ‘Hometown Glory’, which is like one of only two songs I know from ’19’. I really loved the visuals for this song. They had images from iconic locations around Sydney, which I thought was a really nice personal touch.
After that was ‘One and Only’ and ‘I’ll Be Waiting’, which I was quite unfamiliar with before the show. I recognised the melody, but I didn’t know the lyrics well enough to sing along. Regardless, both songs still captivated me, with Adele’s earnest and booming voice capturing my attention and keeping me entertained.
I can’t quite remember, but at some point between these first few songs, she did her first monologue, one of many for the night. She talked about her time in Australia so far, what she liked and just an intro to her concert. This is when she talked to some people in the audience. She even picked up this 8-year old girl named Georgia from the crowd and hugged her and got a picture together. Lucky girl! Adele is honestly so refreshing and hilarious, and I enjoyed it every time she spoke and just told us a story.
‘Rumour Has It’ was a really awesome live song, and one of the better performances of the night. It’s upbeat and sassy and the whole production really complemented it. I loved it when the beat dropped and the whole crowd was screaming the lyrics. It’s still to this day one of my favourites from ’21’.
‘Water Under the Bridge’ was the next one up. Another great song from ’25’. I’ve always had soft spot for this song. It’s one of the more upbeat songs from the album and I love the lyrics. The live production didn’t really add a whole more to the song, but definitely one where you could dance along to.
‘I Miss You’ is a song from ’25’, and to be honest, one of least favourite from that album. There was a bunch of songs from ’25’ that I really liked, such as ‘All I Ask’, ‘Love In The Dark’, ‘River Lea’, and ‘Remedy’. But unfortunately she didn’t sing any of them and instead picked all the songs I disliked haha. You can’t have everything your way I guess.
‘Skyfall’ was brilliant! She gave a lengthy intro about the song and the story of how the people on the Bond film contacted her. Hilarious story! She got a bunch of guys in tuxedos to stand around the stage, although I have no idea what they actually did. The visuals were great, and she complained at length about how much suffering she had to endure to film the clip for us. Classic Adele. I thoroughly enjoyed the performance and I felt the whole crowd buzzing with the atmosphere it created.
Before she sang ‘Don’t You Remember’, she spoke about the song’s background. She was a huge country music fan and began to follow (more like stalk) Alison Krauss, both in her career and personal life. Then one day, Alison came to her concert and she heard about it. She asked someone where she was, and they told her she was in catering. So Adele went over to find her and saw her entering a toilet. So she decided to follow her in and proceed to talk to her about music, herself etc. Of course, she never heard back from Alison haha. But she did say the song was inspired by Alison Krauss’ music and country music, and was probably her most country-sounding song that she’d written. Nice intro and nice song, though I wasn’t terribly familiar with it.
Up next was ‘Make You Feel My Love’, which was a Bob Dylan cover. It’s a crowd favourite because it’s such a romantic song and she gets everyone to turn the lights on their phone. Hearing the song while watching a 95,000-filled stadium light up made me feel strangely nostalgic and reflect back on life. A very serene feeling and vibe, which can only happen when you’re in a packed crowd.
‘Send My Love’ wasn’t my favourite song from ’25’. It was Adele’s attempt at pop, collaborating with Max Martin and Shellback, who are the geniuses behind many commercially successful pop songs. Somehow, it just didn’t feel right with Adele’s voice and her usual style. It was that awkward middle ground between going full-on pop and staying more like Adele’s more bluesy ballads. The song isn’t even that catchy. But as a live song, it plays out alright because it gives some energy in the middle of the show and it’s a song people can sing along to.
‘Sweetest Devotion’ is a song from ’25’ that was inspired by her son Angelo. Again, not my favourite from that album, but it was sweet to hear the sincerity in her voice while she sang the song about her child. She seems very protective and proud of her son, and that comes through in the song.
Then came ‘Chasing Pavements’. This is the song I know best from her first album ’19’ so something I could actually sing along to. I don’t quite remember what the visuals were, but a nice throwback to one of her bigger songs when she first started her career.
‘Take It All’ is a song from ’21’ and not my favourite but it worked well when sung live, because of the gospel, soulful sound of the song.
‘Set Fire To The Rain’ was my absolute favourite of the night. I love the song, the beat, and the fireworks were crazy! It was timed perfectly with the climax of the song and I felt such a rush of excitement. If I could relive that moment, I would 100 times over. Highlight of the whole show.
After this was a short intermission of sorts, where they had the kiss cam, similar to the ones they have at basketball matches. This was such a hilarious segment! Some kissed awkwardly, some kissed passionately, some just gave a quick peck and others didn’t even notice the camera was on them. It’s a great and entertaining section of the show, just before the encore.
‘When We Were Young’ is probably my favourite Adele song so I was really excited to hear it live. It was flawless of course. Her vocals are just as good (if not better) than the recordings. I loved the pictures she used in her video montage. She had all these photos of when she was just a child. They were adorable! It was really nice touch that tied in well with the theme of the song.
Then came ‘Rolling In The Deep’, which was the song that introduced me to Adele, where the whole love affair began. I think this part of the show was where I started to lose my voice haha. When I love a song, I can’t help but sing as loud as I can. I also found it so hard to remain sitting. It’s a concert for pete’s sake. Everyone should be up and dancing. But pretty much everyone sat down. So I didn’t want to stand and annoy everyone around me. But this was such an epic song live and the whole crowd had a singalong.
The final song of the night was arguably the song that really propelled her into the spotlight and into the icon she is today. When I first saw the setlist, I was actually surprised that ‘Someone Like You’ was the final song. I thought ‘Rolling In The Deep’ was a no-brainer choice. Artists usually choose their most energic popular song to end the night. But surprisingly, ‘Someone Like You’ worked well as an ending song. It wasn’t necessarily a happy song, but it was energic and something everyone knew the words to, so it was just as effective as something more upbeat.
Then it all ended and Adele walked out of the stadium. We quickly exited the stadium to beat the crowds at the train station. The transport was organised super well and it didn’t take very long for us to get on a train. Ears ringing, croaky voice and a wide smile is a good sign that the concert was great.
The highlight of the show for me wasn’t necessarily Adele’s singing, but her stories. My God, she could make a career as a stand up comedian. But in a way that’s genuine and not contrived. I could listen to her stories all day, it’s that captivating! She had everyone in the palm of her hand. She talked to people individually, sang happy birthday to someone, brought an 8 year old girl up on stage, left handwritten letters around the nosebleed sections of the stadium, and gave away free tshirts. Plus, all her monologues were spontaneous and not scripted. It’s not a new thing for artists to talk to their audience in between songs, to feel connected with their fans. But often it’s scripted and the same every night, which makes it feel ingenuine and contrived. With Adele, every word she said sounded honest and so I felt a real sense of connection between her fans and her. That’s what I really think set her apart from other artists I’ve seen. Everyone can have epic productions or brilliant songs or good voices, but you can’t fudge the relationship between artist and fans. This is why it narrowly beats out Ed Sheeran’s X tour as my favourite concert. Ed was fantastic. His voice is flawness, I knew pretty much all the words to his songs, he was a one-man band (which is super impressive) but he didn’t connect as well to his fans as Adele did.
Overall, I loved the whole show, atmosphere and production. Even though there were a number of songs I wasn’t really familiar with, it’s a testament of how good Adele’s vocals and visuals were that I still enjoyed it without being able to sing the words to it. I would say go get tickets to her show, but unfortunately she’s close to wrapping up her tour, with only shows in Australia, New Zealand and Wembley in June. Then she’s done and who knows when she’ll come back with new music. So I feel lucky I got this wonderful opportunity to see her while I had the chance.