Apologies are all the rage these days when it comes to difficult-to-procure concert tickets. And Adele, whose much anticipated Las Vegas residency launched on Friday (Nov. 18) at the Colosseum at Caesars Palace, was not exempt from her own. “I’m truly sorry for any inconvenience and any disappointment that I’ve caused, but we’re here tonight and together” she said from the stage. Delaying the run, she added, “was the best decision I ever made.”
It was a reminder of the long road to the Colosseum. Originally scheduled to kick off in January, production issues — and Adele’s own dissatisfaction with the staging — caused a nine-month delay, during which time rumors circulated suggesting that the show may move venues or be called off altogether. “I’d really like to thank Caesars because there’s been a lot of shit written about me since I canceled those shows,” Adele said. “Ninety percent of it is completely made up, but not once did [Caesars] ask any questions,” Adele defended, remarking how dealing with business is the part of her job as a world-renowned singer that she doesn’t always enjoy. “That’s why I fuck off for six years at a time,” she cracked.
Truth be told, no one was complaining. If anything, the crowd of 4,100 — which included James Corden, director Baz Luhrmann, Apple CEO Tim Cook and British artist Stormzy (seated with Adele’s beau Rich Paul) in attendance, as well as Sony Music Group’s Rob Stringer and Afo Verde and CBS executive Jack Sussman — were audibly and visibly thrilled to be a part of Adele’s opening night, as demonstrated by their screams and frequent standing ovations.
Still, Adele was nervous, and said so at the top of the show as she belted “Hello” and warmed up her voice. “I’m so scared and so happy,” she confessed, before asking rhetorically, “How are you all?”
Adele explained that she wanted the show to “start small” with just her and a piano. She also warned the audience that bangers were scant, so to take the opportunity to dance when an up-tempo tune comes. “I don’t know what I was thinking,” she said of front-loading the show with ballads.
“I’ve got a lot to tell you,” Adele continued in her trademark banter. “It’s a bloody massive week for me — it’s the ‘Walking Dead’ finale on Sunday! And it’s the Grammys and the World Cup. … I’m talking this much because I’m so nervous.” Indeed, she joked and regaled the crowd with stories for a total of almost 30 minutes during the two-hour show, covering everything from the weather (unseasonably cold in Vegas) to her “love of sitting down” to music discovery and the mechanics of the show, and even made two Canadian audience members’ night by reassigning them from the worst seats in the house to orchestra center (she plans to repeat the deed on future shows), and a few more fans got T-shirts shot at them from a gun. (Next door to the venue is an Adele store selling merch and knick-knacks and displaying a selection of her dresses and awards.)
Working her way through her greatest hits — “Easy On Me,” “Rumour Has It,” “Send My Love,” “Skyfall,” “Set Fire to the Rain,” “When We Were Young,” “Someone Like You” — it became clearer as the night went on that the less-is-more production complemented the music in a way that didn’t distract but rather enhanced the art of the performance. Outside of the rain fall and flames that accompanied “Set Fire to the Rain,” videos of a stunning Adele along with picturesque landscapes and a wall of string players brought a classiness to the show — the sort that maybe could justify spending north of $800 for a seat.
But what truly made the show worth every penny was Adele’s promise that it would be an intimate experience. She came through in every regard, walking up and down the aisles, meeting and kissing her fans, asking about their lives. “The whole reason I wanted to play a small room was to be close to you,” she said during an emotional moment just before the encore (“Rolling in the Deep” and “Love Is a Game”). “I was just flailing around London when I was 21 years old and I wrote an album that ended up changing my life,” Adele continued. “I had no idea that my life would end up becoming what it is. Every day, I have an out-of-body experience.”
You could say the same of the crowd’s Friday night.
Easy On Me
Take It All
I Drink Wine
Water Under the Bridge
Send My Love
Oh My God
One And Only
Don’t You Remember
Rumour Has It
Love in the Dark
Cry Your Heart Out
Set Fire to the Rain
When We Were Young
Someone Like You
Rolling in the Deep
Love Is a Game
Correction: A previous version of this article mistakenly listed WeWork founder Adam Newman in attendance.