Adele Adkins, the 23-year-old singer-songwriter with the No. 1 single and album in the world right now, played the Ogden Theatre in Denver on Saturday night, her last show before five postponed dates due to laryngitis. The long since sold-out show had to be the hardest ticket to find in this town in quite a while, and it didn’t take her long to prove why.
Opening with “Hometown Glory,” accompanied only by piano, Adele sang the intro from behind the curtain and the crowd hushed quickly. She emerged shortly thereafter to the first of many emotional cheers from one of the more diverse (although primarily female) crowds that the Ogden is likely to ever see. Adele followed that with the rousing, Memphis-soul-inspired track, “I’ll Be Waiting,” one of those “sing-along in the car” songs that the repeat button was made for. Backed by an excellent five piece band and two backing vocalists, she wailed a little on one of the 85 minute set’s few non-ballads, stretching vowels beautifully and all with remarkable phrasing.
For a performer who’s confessed to stage fright, Adele seemed comfortable and especially talkative. She genuinely appeared to be enjoying herself, chatting with a few audience members down front, explaining some of the backstory of a few songs, sometimes with humor and, on other occasions, revealing the disappointment, anger and heartbreak that led her to write them. Even so, the two-handed middle fingers she flashed at the end of “Rumor Has It” showed the girl has some fight in her. The crowd loved it.
“My Same,” off her debut, “19,” was another highlight, sounding like something Peggy Lee or, more likely, Etta James (one of Adele’s primary influences), might have sang. Again, the band was swinging, showcasing the amazingly clean sound in the Ogden noticeable throughout the entire performance, easily among the best I’ve heard at the theatre.
As on her two albums, her set included a few covers that fit in nicely with the originals. The latter two, a Rick Rubin arrangement of the Cure’s “Lovesong” and “Make You Feel My Love” by Bob Dylan (beautifully delivered), contrasted greatly with the SteelDrivers’ “If It Hadn’t Been For Love,” a country song about love and the desperate measures it brings out in some people. Adele said she could relate to it, “Because sometimes you just want to shoot the (expletive deleted).”
The encore began with the gut-wrenching, “Someone Like You” and, like most of the show, but especially on the ballads, the audience sang along (this time at Adele’s request), yet it was never enough to prevent hearing that tornado of a voice above everyone else’s. Adele closed the show belting out the mega hit, “Rolling In The Deep,” sending even the most heartbroken home on a winning note.
Mike Long is a Longmont-based writer and comedian and a regular contributor to Reverb.
Joe McCabe is a Denver photographer and a regular contributor to Reverb. Check out his website.