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Concert review: Adele at Cosmo’s Chelsea Ballroom

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Photo: Isaac Brekken

Once, at a forgettable, now-defunct bar on Sahara, I found myself listening to a no-name singer-songwriter from LA introduce her song about a fling gone awry. He was her boss, blah blah blah. Suddenly, she stopped and said, “Oh my God, you guys. I am that girl.” Indeed, that girl—the one who writes songs about her ex, or bad poetry, drunken texts or sloppy Facebook statuses. Most of us have been there. It usually isn’t pretty.

Adele is the grand exception. The 23-year-old British songstress behind the you-cannot-avoid-it summer hit “Rolling in the Deep” is the queen of that girls. She has never made it a secret that her wildly successful 2011 album 21 and its predecessor, 2008’s 19, are about former loves. Luckily, Adele has the power to be that girl, and I’m not just talking about her vocal prowess.

The Details

Adele
Four stars
August 20, The Cosmopolitan
Related
5 thoughts from Adele at Cosmo's Chelsea Ballroom

Adele connects with audiences, live or otherwise. That much was proven Saturday at the Cosmopolitan’s Chelsea Ballroom, where the Brit’s own immaculate vocals were at times drowned out completely by the crowd. I’ve heard singing along before, but never like this. These devotees belted with conviction, as if Adele hadn’t written about her exes, but theirs.

And, in a way, you could say she has. Adele’s strength is in her ability to capture the most human of emotions, like the purgatory stage between being on your knees begging and being so over it. What she offers isn’t simple heartache but pain layered in self-awareness and the teensiest bit of hope. “I hate to turn up out of the blue uninvited, but I couldn’t stay away, I couldn’t fight it,” Adele unleashes in “Someone Like You,” a crowd favorite. “I had hoped you’d see my face and that you’d be reminded that for me, it isn’t over. Nevermind, I’ll find someone like you.”

Her music can speak for itself, but it turns out it’s better when it doesn’t. Adele peppered her performance with candid tales about the inspiration behind her songs, at one point admitting she wouldn’t be bashing her ex (like she usually does) because she’d reconnected with him earlier in the week. It felt like an intimate conversation, albeit with 4,000 people eavesdropping. She felt as real as her music feels—and with Adele, that’s saying a lot.

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