Adele’s eyes, projected large on to the huge gauze screen which shrouded the stage pre-show, gazed across the arena.
Adele | Rating: *** | SSE Hydro, Glasgow
Every so often they would twitch or blink. It felt like Big Sister was watching us. Nothing unsettling in that, Adele really is like that nurturing older sister or the fun aunty you rush to confide in. Her Glasgow fans were certainly eager to share and Adele, perhaps unwisely, indulged them, inviting them on to her diamond-shaped podium for hugs, selfies, autographs, brazen guest list requests, offers to pop round for a cuppa and less-than-scintillating chat about her first Glasgow show (“where was it? that place next to Wetherspoon’s?”) and personalised tattoos.
There’s no distance with this diva, and that’s a large part of her appeal. Her pal-in-the-pub persona is certainly more distinctive than her middle-of-the-road songs and her rapport with an audience is even, in some respects, more remarkable than her voice, reliable and familiar as it is now. It’s easy to take her naturally rich, dulcet and occasionally bluesy tone for grant. The opening Hello – what else? – was flawless and from there it felt like plain sailing over the next two hours, the nerves she readily admitted to well disguised as everyday repartee.
There are pros and cons in her ability to make everyone her friend. She was a pleasure to spend time with but the banal blether interrupted the flow of the show. At least much of the jovial interaction was out the way before the misery memoirs kicked in.
With the best will in the world, it was hard to get excited about the prosaic I Miss You, despite attempts to drum up some drama with rolling toms and a swell in Adele’s declamatory tone. For her first arena tour, she has recruited a power band to match her power vocals. Occasionally, it felt like a competition for resounding supremacy, and the crucial Bond strings lost out during a booming Skyfall.
With its Latin inflections and smoky delivery, the acoustic Million Years Ago came as a welcome change of tone, pace and pitch but the most powerful moments were inevitably attached to the best songs. Bob Dylan’s Make You Feel My Love really does now feel like it belongs to Adele, while the classically crafted Someone Like You belongs, as she noted herself, to everybody.