“May I get a hot honey? That’s a Chamomile! I’m not a diva!” Adele squawks having taken an almighty swig from her onstage mug- and she’s not wrong, she certainly isn’t, despite her reaction to the hot beverage mix-up. An Audience with Adele, filmed at the London Palladium was shrouded in secrecy in the weeks leading up to its ITV broadcast on Sunday night, and did not disappoint. The perfect concoction of post-pandemic wholesomeness, and it just what the doctor ordered for a wintry Sunday night. It saw the star perform a combination of both old and new hits, interpolated with questions from the audience, and was, essentially, in classic Adele style – a stand-up comedy show.
The audience itself was a celebrity motley crew in the best of ways- an Emma double-whammy, with Thompson and Watson swaying and swaggering from different sides of the palladium, Stormzy grinning adorably, and Boy George cackling from under his trademark behemoth hat. The most unexpected moment for me personally was Gareth Southgate being called to the witness stand for his question and popping up in his classic meerkat style to ask the pop star about her icons. A bizarre situation, yes, however a testament to Adele’s universality when it comes to her fans and the undeniable love the whole world seems to have for her. Not only was the auditorium filled with A-list stars, however – the circle was reserved for key workers, and Grenfell survivors, to whom Adele gave a heart-warming shout-out, near the end of the show.
Adele’s cheeky savagery was aplenty, declaring that most of her exes “couldn’t even do a normal daily task” when asked what their songs about her may sound like, and shrieking that her tights “had fallen down” and were “all baggy at the crotch!”. Despite the talent and booming voice oozing throughout the iconic London venue, it was clear she was nervous (“it’s a bit touch and go, that high note at the end!”), and she had to restart her comeback single, Easy on Me, as she was too frightened. However, the music was utterly glorious; her timeless, honey-like voice swirled around and commanded everyone to their feet, most notably in her 2015 hit Send My Love (To Your New Lover), in which she actively encouraged a boogie, it being one of her rare, jolly songs.
The most heart-warming moment was undoubtedly when Adele’s primary school teacher Ms. McDonald surprised the star onstage, following a question from Emma Thompson about her role models, to which Adele gushed about this teacher. It was truly moving, causing the singer to cry and having to “fix her face” makeup wise, whilst Alan Carr came to the rescue and lead the crowd in a questionable, yet highly cheery karaoke rendition of the singer’s Make You Feel My Love. It was this spontaneity and jollity which distinguished this event from America’s Adele: One Night Only, which aired on CBS a week prior to ITV’s, which was perhaps slightly too grandiose and pristine for Adele’s ways, filmed at the Griffith Observatory in Los Angeles.
The setlist was wonderfully concocted, with enough well-known classics to bring the crowd along with her, and the perfect number of new songs sprinkled in to add an air of novelty, exclusivity, and excitement to the event. It was refreshing to see such an incredible voice still reign over pop music following a six-year break and be part of the overwhelming gratitude the British population feels at her return. Ever since the star appeared on the cover of both British and American Vogue simultaneously back in September, we knew her comeback would be epic, however this ‘Audience With…’ format worked wonders at showcasing why she continues to be such a force, illuminating her vocal talent along with her mischievous sense of humour and candid attitude to both life and music.
From Stormzy unfurling his 50ft frame from his seat to shout “What’s happening Adele!”, to the singer bringing the house down with her high note in Hello, An Audience with Adele was high octane, gloriously British, and a wonderful welcome home to an icon.