Earlier this week, my roommate and I attempted to nail down life’s crucial question: Who is America’s sweetheart? We eventually settled on the fact that we’re living through a sweetheart-less moment in America, but now, I realize we were wrong. America’s sweetheart is, in fact, British. And her name is Adele.
The singer played the first of two sold-out gigs at The Palace of Auburn Hills Tuesday night. Lasting almost two hours, Adele’s show is timeless and overwhelmingly personable — not unlike the singer herself. The dichotomy of Adele’s soul-crushing sound and boisterous personality proved to be a killer combination; when she wasn’t hitting every note, she was cracking jokes between songs. Topics ranged from her love of day-drinking, a hip-hop class she’s taking and even landlines.
With a sporadic touring history, Adele tactfully paid homage to all of her studio albums, 19, 21 and 25 Tuesday. Opening with “Hello,” she emerged from the B-stage serenading the back half of the arena before turning toward the front on the first chorus.
The night consisted entirely of Adele standing, occasionally swaying and hitting every note. The setlist was comprised of her signature ballads, save a short, seated acoustic set and a pair of songs that have “actual beats” — a quality she admits confuses her. If she was confused, the crowd couldn’t tell by her booming performance of “Rumour Has It” and the impassioned “Water Under The Bridge.” And later in the show, she drew in all of the husbands who got dragged out on a Tuesday with a cover of “Make You Feel My Love” by Bob Dylan, calling Dylan the “greatest songwriter of all time.”
The show’s strongest moment came when the chanteuse returned to the B-stage for “Chasing Pavements,” “Someone Like You” and “Set Fire to the Rain.” Each performance was special and spectacular in its own way. “Chasing Pavements” set the groundwork for Adele’s rise with 21 and the smash success of “Rolling in the Deep.” The crowd’s participation during the second and third choruses of “Someone Like You” is half the reason the song feels so momentous, but even without their participation, Adele’s clear love for the track would without a doubt carry it to the same lengths. And the final song before the encore, “Set Fire to the Rain,” found Adele in the center of the square platform, surrounded by walls of rain on all sides.
Performing in the same black, sequined ball gown for the entirety of the show, Adele exuded a certain coolness throughout the night. She’s a master of stank-face and shoulder rolls, and even the “Rolling in the Deep” encore had a casualness that’s absent without Adele’s stage presence. When the arena wasn’t filled with her unwavering vocals, it was filled with her laugh. Adele’s 2016 tour isn’t just a showcase of her musical ability; it’s a showcase of Adele herself, one of the few artists with both the music and the personality to create a music-hall vibe in an 18,000-person arena.