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Adele is worth the wait in majestic premiere

Updated November 21, 2022 - 7:24 pm

So it’s a music show, after all.

It’s a singing show, a sing-along show, a show where you stand and shout. It’s a seated show, too, and a contemplative show. A show that runs cool with rain and hot with fire, even in the same scene.

A show where the star starts as a stranger, but by the end, feels like someone you’ve known a lifetime.

“Weekends with Adele” has opened at the Colosseum at Caesars Palace. Her performance was worth what seemed an interminable wait. The star has enhanced expectations, and even her own tension, with her 10-month delay in the production.

Adele handled it well. Overcoming immense pressure to deliver, she walked out to the opening piano licks of “To Be Loved,” wanting just that. She made a silly face, sticking her tongue out as the crowd stood and roared.

Then she started singing, and you understood her mass appeal. This artist’s voice is transcendent. You mention Streisand and Celine, Whitney Houston in her day, and vocally Adele is in that strata. As a superstar figure, she can reach every individual in the house and make them care about her performance.

Because of Celine

Adele looked around that regal room, filled for her for the first time, and shouted, “I really appreciate it!” to the 4,300-plus who made the trek. “I am so scared. I am so nervous … ”

Then she recalibrated as fans arrived late, making fun of the lax scheduling, “Where were you, at a pool party?” She quickly paid tribute to the legend for whom the room was built, Celine Dion, “That’s the only reason I wanted to sing in here, because of her.”

Adele’s monologue was spiced with profanity, as you would expect, even as there was a great cross-section of fans in the house, including kids. Adele didn’t quite put up frequent Colosseum headliner Chris Rock numbers for F-bombs, but she certainly let ‘em fly.

The show started small, with the star alongside touring pianist Eric Wortham II at a white Yamaha in the middle of the A-framed set. You were reminded of Adele’s comments to the talk show host Graham Norton that she could simply play a show with a piano player and a lamp.

Adele gave that idea a raspberry at the time, but that format would have been fine as wine for this crowd. As it was, Adele spent the opening segment in that type of setting, starting with a melancholy “Hello” and moving into “Take It All.”

Soon the stage was nearly overtaken by massive LED panels on either side, giant visuals of Adele singing. The addition of these screens, and how they would be used, was among the oft-discussed issues during the shows’ postponement. Those images gave fans even upstairs a close-up look at their idol.

She promised the show would grow and it did. The stage’s panels drew wide for her backing band. An LED chandelier was brought out for “I Drink Wine.” Two dozen string players, several of them Vegas players, performed inside a giant, sectioned grid. The set was unveiled during a soaring, video-infused “Skyfall.”

Highlights elsewhere were plentiful. Adele chatted with her audience throughout. She shouted to her boyfriend, Rich Paul, in the audience and stopped and kissed Paul and her son Angelo during a lap around the orchestra section for “When We Were Young.”

The sound matched Adele’s flawless vocals. She did not produce a fashion show, in the same room where Cher performed a dozen or so costume changes. Adele wore the same, snug black gown throughout. She is a gorgeous figure, everyone agrees. She wore black socks, though, owing to comfort.

Adele dropped quite a lot of happy confetti on her fans in this show. Paper, Polaroid-style photos of her childhood and tiny pink and red hearts rained down during “When We Were Young” and “Love Is a Game.” Her messages were “Better Late Than Never!” and “I Guess I Still Care.”

Running hot & cold

As you thought the show would simply cruise along casually, a rain curtain running the width of the stage appeared behind the singer for “Set Fire to the Rain.” The fire erupted, deconstructing Wortham’s piano in the middle of this downpour. (It was the most impressive use of a precipitation since Dion was encircled in a water stream for “My Heart Will Go On” in her second residency production.)

Adele was playful in offering a few fans free T-shirts, by shooting them into the crowd with a handheld air cannon. This is her variation of Rod Stewart kicking soccer balls into the Colosseum seats.

She also pinpointed fans in the theater’s balcony section, picking out one who had a seat next to a wall and offering that ticketholder, and a guest, two seats.

“There are two seats in this house, that are the worst (expletive) seats in this house,” Adele said, pointing upstairs to seats on opposite sides of the balcony. She learned this, she said, because she sat up there for a time during rehearsals.

“There’s a wall right next to your face, yes you,” she said motioning for the fans to move out. The crowd cheered the adjustment of the seating chart, as those fans took seats that had, at one point, been selling for more than $40,000 apiece on secondary ticket sites.

That is the great frustration about the Adele show, that she has priced herself out of millions of fans’ ability to see her perform. The market is unkind, and so can the ticket-buying process be (so said the couple in the front row who paid $20,000 apiece for two seats for January’s opening, only to wait the 10 months for the show).

But a concert special emanating from the Colosseum show seems a must. The widespread public audience needs to see this performance, somehow.

Her voice wavering, Adele spoke about the delay late in the show, as several Caesars Entertainment officials — including company head Anthony Carano — were seated in the VIP booths. She is clearly happy to play Las Vegas, or as she said, “I’m playing (expletive) Las Vegas,” as the crowd cheered.

“While I am thanking you, I’d really like to thank Caesars, because there has been a lot of (stuff) written about me. Ninety percent of it is absolutely made up,” she confided. “There’s been rumors I was going to move hotels, moving theaters and all this. But never once did they ask questions. They have been amazing.”

So worth it

To answer the question peppering social media, was she worth the cost, the wait, the taxing of so many central nervous systems? Yes. And this comes from a skeptical place. To be candid, we were feeling OK with the Las Vegas roster of superstar headliners without an Adele show.

But in a world where so much art is produced on phones, projected against walls or viewed through VR goggles, she has produced a classically fulfilling production laden with contemporary elements. She matched the assignment, exceeded her expectations and moved Vegas to the top — again — of the live entertainment culture.

Just one show into her “Weekends” residency, Adele has joined the legends who have played Vegas. We feel she’s going to have a run for the ages.

John Katsilometes’ column runs daily in the A section. His “PodKats!” podcast can be found at reviewjournal.com/podcasts. Contact him at jkatsilometes@reviewjournal.com. Follow @johnnykats on Twitter, @JohnnyKats1 on Instagram.

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