She had us at “Hello.”
“Adele Live in New York City” is exec produced by Lorne Michaels, which explains why so many “Saturday Night Live” cast members, past and present, were among the VIPs in attendance at Radio City, as was Donald Trump. The show also coincided with Adele’s Nov. 21 appearance on “SNL.”
Although Adele has ascended to superstar status during the past five years, she noted to the crowd that the performance marked her first big concert in New York City.
“This is going to be on TV so don’t pick your nose,” Adele advised with her inimitable breathless enthusiasm. A few minutes after hitting the stage in a shimmery full-length gown, she kicked off her shoes and settled in for a run of songs that explained why she’s such a force in pop music. The set list included many numbers from her 2011 smash album “21,” her Bond theme “Skyfall” and her latest chart-topping single, “Hello.”
“I’ve been dying to do a f—ing show,” she confessed to the crowd, citing her self-imposed downtime during the past three years after giving birth to a son, Angelo, in October, 2012. In a tribute to her talent and that of director Beth McCarthy-Miller, the taping went smoothly from the audience’s vantage point with no stops and starts. Nor did the star engage in costume changes or pyrotechnics beyond the visual imagery projected behind her on the stage.
Instead, Adele offered her own biographical annotation as she moved through her songbook. She introduced “Hometown Glory,” from her 2007 album “19,” as the first song she ever wrote. As the taping came just four days after the Nov. 13 Paris terror attacks, she dedicated it to the victims. “Tonight, this is about everyone’s hometown,” she said.
Adele joked about her reputation for songs about lust, love and lamentations. “I make love-making music,” she said. She added that she’s often handed babies when out in public and told that she provided the soundtrack to their conception.
For the most part, Adele’s backing band was a spare eight-piece set-up including back-up singers. She accompanied herself on guitar on one song, and a few tunes included the tasteful use of an all-female string section.
Toward the end of the roughly two-hour performance, Adele admitted that she battled nerves before the show because it was the first attended by her boyfriend, Simon Konecki, the father of her son. Before she launched into her mega hit “Someone Like You,” she noted, “I don’t sing it from the same place anymore because of my man.”
She closed with a soaring rendition of “When We Were Young,” from her new album “25.” With the crowd on its feet offering extended applause, Adele bid them farewell as if she was parting with a lover. “Thank you,” she said, with tears in her eyes. “I’ll never forget it.”