Dustin Duong, along with a casual 95,000 others, went along to see Queen Mother Adele at one of her Sydney shows this past weekend.
Few artists could unite 95 thousand people of all generations and walks of life, but the classy yet adorably gauche Adele managed to command Sydney with every perfect note on Friday night.
After 107 shows on the road, the singer proved to Australia that it was worth the wait. Following on from her successes at the Grammys, Queen Adele, alone with a crown on her head and no supporting act, gave her fans a taste of what it is like to be her friend and confidante.
From ruining a fireworks surprise in distress at a patron’s medical emergency, to defending Justin Bieber and praising Beyoncé, the mononymous superstar wielded her power over the concert’s flow, conducted a choir, and charmed the spellbound crowd with both talent and bumbling humour.
I confess to have been absorbed in her words, her movements, and her eyes, with my jaws paralysed in a gape. How can a mortal achieve such harmonic symbiosis between relatable clumsiness and unattainable flawlessness?
The production was a technological feat, simple in its design and flawless in its execution. A central, circular stage held captive thousands of eyes, and video projections were reminiscent of a themed Instagram layout.
Some gimmicks felt like they belonged at a Coldplay concert, when giant black & white beach balls descended upon the stadium. The novelty lasted for an excess of fifteen minutes, and quickly became an unwelcome distraction from the stunning vocals of ‘Rumour Has It’ and ‘Water Under the Bridge’.
Other strategies better complemented Adele’s introspective and intimate disposition, which was the case when she asked for shining stars and the crowd obliged with their mobile flashlights during a cover of Bob Dylan’s ‘Make You Feel My Love’.
A faint weariness could be detected at times throughout the show. After all, the singer has performed these songs hundreds if not thousands of times before.
Glimpses of the magic of her moving Royal Albert Hall showcase were perhaps most visible during the uncomplicated and honest performances of ‘Someone Like You’ and ‘Chasing Pavements’, accompanied by an all-male choir and the thousands of voices that were singing along in solidarity.
Touches of Adele’s personality transported the men, women, and children in the crowd out of the stadium and into a more familiar environment. The confetti that blew in the air were copies of handwritten notes from the singer, and one fortunate fan, seated in the nosebleed section close to the clouds, was gifted with a letter and signed photograph.
Perhaps what makes Adele great is that everybody has a stake in her romantic journey. Her songs and her fans prove that love can really transcend all, as the scanning camera showed when it highlighted a gay couple, elderly lovebirds, and awkward budding crushes. Adele shows us for who we are when touched by the joys and pains of love; vulnerable yet fierce.
An unfortunate side plot of this great romance was the lacklustre performance of transport management. The long awaited show was delayed by 45 minutes, as the train network struggled to handle the thousands of fans heading towards ANZ Stadium. Many were not at all peeved by the delay, and those who eventually arrived later were thankful for the popstar and her team’s decision.
After arriving at the venue with relative ease – though the express stopped multiple times en route – the departure from Olympic Park proved to be an unwanted and confusing experience, a glaring contrast between a well-composed show and the chaos of Sydney’s public transport. Signs directing the 95 thousand strong crowd were almost invisible, and staff seemed incognisant of any plan or strategy.
If the singer wanted to experience Sydney like a local, all she needed to do was exit the stadium and follow the confused masses trying to make their way home.
With another concert scheduled for tonight, one hopes that transport officials will manage the crowds as elegantly as Adele herself.