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Live: Adele at the Hollywood Bowl

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"I feel like Beyonce or something!" gushed young English soul singer Adele on Sunday night from the stage of the Hollywood Bowl. "There's so many of you."

Considering her rapid rise to fame, you can understand the feeling. Three years ago, Adele Laurie Blue Adkins was studying music at London's BRIT School for performing arts  and technology; in February she won the Grammy for best new artist.

If we're talking performance style, though, Adele, 21, shares very little in common with the woman occasionally known as Sasha Fierce. Instead of precisely calibrated showbiz sparkle, Adele offers a peek behind the velvet curtain.

Explaining that she'd gotten badly sunburned Sunday afternoon, she admitted that her heavy makeup made her look like a drag queen. And several times she flubbed the lyrics of her songs, then chastised herself for her less than professional memory.

After forcing her five-piece band (plus the Hollywood Bowl Orchestra Strings) to restart "Melt My Heart to Stone" -- which she called her favorite track on her 2008 debut, "19" -- Adele joked, "I wanna say it makes me more real, but I don't think anyone thinks anything else."

The audience, which included "American Idol" runner-up Adam Lambert, affirmed her suspicion with a loving roar.

In a way, of course, that charming guilelessness actually serves as a highly effective bit of stagecraft. Because Adele's just-folks persona prepares you for a just-folks voice, the real thing ends up sounding even more magnificent than it is.

Performing material from "19," as well as several covers and one new tune she said she expected to record for her second album, Adele sang gorgeously throughout her hourlong set Sunday, channeling old-school greats such as Etta James and Sam Cooke but with a street-smart twist that made the music feel like young-person property.

The bait and switch  seemed  to work even on Adele. During "Daydreamer" and "Best for Last," both of which she performed solo, an open look of surprise flashed across her wide face, as if she couldn't believe how effortlessly she was filling the Bowl with sound.

Adele was scheduled to share Sunday's show -- her final American date in support of "19" with James, whom Adele called her favorite singer while introducing a lovely version of "Fool That I Am."

 James canceled due to last-minute illness, so Chaka Khan took her place, turning in a tidy set of durable R&B gems ("Ain't Nobody," "I Feel for You," "Tell Me Something Good") that have somehow grown no less appealing through the decades.

Assigning herself to melisma duty while her three backing vocalists took on the song's melody, Khan made you wonder if, like AIG or GM, "I'm Every Woman" is simply too big to fail.

Janelle Monae, a well-connected protege of both Sean "Diddy" Combs and OutKast's Big Boi, began her opening set by proclaiming, "I am an alien from outer space." That seems doubtful, though, as no alien would need to try as hard as Monae did to demonstrate its eccentricity.

Though she sang well and her band skirted the edges of an interesting soul-punk fusion, Monae offered nothing of substance Sunday to match her insufferably precious sense of style.

Sasha Weird: Please phone home.

--Mikael Wood

Photo credit: Stefano Paltera / For The Times

 
Comments () | Archives (8)

the real bate and switch was Etta James being replaced and leaving a large part of the audience having to settle with only 1/2 the show they came (and paid) for. Perhaps Ms. James couldn't stomach playing second fiddle.

I thought Adele was absolutely amazing. She forgot her lyrics a couple times, but she handled it well and it was cute. She's one of the best singers of this generation, in my opinion, yet when I saw her, I didn't feel like a tiny ant next to a diva god like I would if I was seeing, say, Beyonce or someone like that. She's not another anorexic pop star train wreck waiting to happen. Adele is famous and an unbelievably talented singer yet i still feel like I can relate to her and the things she sings about. And it was really interesting to see the bowl packed with like, teens, and old people all sitting together.

I would've liked to see Etta James, but Chaka Khan was great, Adele was great, the band and orchestra were great, and I was just happy to be there :]

Ditto Sarah. Adele was amazing -- although I love her album, she was much better live. In the current pop world of autotune and over-produced concerts, it was so refreshing to experience a genuine performance by a true talent. Her voice was gorgeous and big - without trying too hard. I absolutely loved the show and look forward to her next album!

I was simply amazed by Adele, even though I've been following her via the internet/her website for over a year. She is unbelievable live, and the goosebumps I had only confirmed that. That said I would have loved to see Etta James, but things happen, so I can't cry over spilled milk. Chaka did well, and it was entertaining. I adore Janelle Monae, even though hardly anyone knows about her. I'll admit she isn't for everyone, but she is talented. All in all I thought it was a pretty amazing show. I loved it.

I felt Janelle Monae is trying to hard to be an "Outkast" and she should focus on her abilities as a vocalist. She sounded great on "Smile" but the other stuff just did not connect.

Adele was fun and much better than I expected. I bought the show as a series of five so I could get box seats for the Beastie Boys and I am always open to various genres and artists. I was not expecting much but Adele was charming and has an impressive voice that at times, seemed to mesmerize the nearly 18,000 members of the audience.

Chaka Khan is an R&B legend but what was up with the vocal microphone? Tough to hear her and the opening act.

I felt Janelle Monae is trying to hard to be an "Outkast" and she should focus on her abilities as a vocalist. She sounded great on "Smile" but the other stuff just did not connect.

Adele was fun and much better than I expected. I bought the show as a series of five so I could get box seats for the Beastie Boys and I am always open to various genres and artists. I was not expecting much but Adele was charming and has an impressive voice that at times, seemed to mesmerize the nearly 18,000 members of the audience.

Chaka Khan is an R&B legend but what was up with the vocal microphone? Tough to hear her and the opening act.

A great night. Her 'realness' exuded throughout but as the reviewer mentioned, her voice certainly wasn't coming from the 'girl next door.'

A favorite, non-musical moment was when she called her "Mum" followed by a packed Bowl crowd yelling "Hi Mom!" What a proud moment that must have been for them both.

A great vibe throughout the evening. She's a real talent.

I will say though that as a man it felt like an Estrogen Atomic Bomb went off when Chaka Khan sang "I'm Every Woman." I actually think I felt my breasts growing a little bit.

This show rocked.. Alele is now among a new favorite for us. We loved her soulfulness, her warmth, and her being a real person. She now lives on as one of the best artists we've seen over the past 10 years at the Bowl - joining Diana Krall and Pink Martini..

Enjoy !
www.romyraves.com


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