Adele (left), performing with her band at Paradiso in Amsterdam, Netherlands, played the Air Canada Centre May 18. Photo by 3FM.
With a collection of old-fashioned lampshades and a smattering of Persian carpets across the floor, Adele’s stage at the Air Canada Centre looked like a quaint living room.
Except this living room opened up to over 6,000 fans.
“Look at all the people!” the British soulstress said at her Toronto show May 18. “I’ve never played an arena before.”
Adele was originally slated to play Kool Haus to promote her sophomore release 21, the number one album in Canada, the U.S. and U.K. It’s a good thing she got an upgrade — her voice boomed right to the arena’s back walls with a maturity pop music could use more of.
While famous for her bravado, she opened her set with soulful coos on “Hometown Glory,” an ode to her native London. The surge of cheers from the crowd nearly drowned out the first verse.
It was a powerful rendition of her latest single, “Set Fire To The Rain,” that eventually silenced the audience from cheering randomly during her songs. Adele made full use of her vocal ability on this scornful breakup ballad, belting with a well-timed vibrato that could send shivers even to the nosebleed seats above.
Yet Adele said she was fighting the shivers herself, often cracking self-deprecating jokes to ease her nerves. For a ballad on relationship insecurity, “Take It All,” she told the crowd it was the only song from 21 that she wrote before her ex and muse for 21 broke up with her.
“He did it after he heard this song,” she joked.
Overall, her song introductions helped fill the vastness of the ACC with touching, intimate stories about the highs and lows in her life. She sang “My Same,” a song about a friendship gone wrong, as if the dramatic falling out just happened backstage. Her delivery was slinky, yet sassy and the catchy acoustic guitar hook made it a standout track.
The entire band brought it home on “Rumour Has It” with tribal-sounding drums, a thick bass grove, and snarling guitar licks that perfectly matched Adele’s powerful croon.
But even with her old-soul singing, the chart-topper always thanked the crowd with youthful glee and giggles. Before her finale — you guessed it, “Rolling In The Deep” — she said she was still nervous, but with a huge grin.
The one thing Adele got wrong was the lyric “I was a child” from “I’ll Be Waiting.” Revered as she is, Adele still carries herself with a childlike wonder that feeds right into her audience.
If there’s one thing louder than her voice, it’s that clear and charming appreciation for her rise to fame.
Rating: 5 out of 5 stars