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ADELE AT RADIO CITY: SIMPLE AND ELEGANT

Adele's performance for her NBC special at Radio City Music Hall—which aired Monday night following The Voice—showed her understated and self-effacing charm. She told us she was uncomfortable in her shoes as she immediately took them off and performed songs new and already classic in her bare feet—while wearing an elaborate bejeweled gown. When she spoke to us, her Cockney intonations were often hard to understand; yet her vocals were clear, crisp and concise. She performed for the most part with an eight-piece band, which was augmented, at times, with a 19-piece, all-female string section.

From a production standpoint, the only embellishments were multiple projections, so we were often seeing three Adeles, the most vivid being an overhead projection on the ceiling that looked stunning in an orchestra seat but must have truly glowed from the three balconies above in the always awesome Radio City.

How will all this come off on TV? Awesome and intimate all at once, most likely.

Musical highlights were lead single “Hello” and the beautiful new “When We Were Young,” as well as audience favorites “Chasing Pavements,” “Set Fire to the Rain,” “Someone Like You” and the rousing finale of “Rolling in the Deep.” Adele seemed both uncomfortable and joyful to be back in the action. She spoke of an upcoming tour, of the wonder of motherhood and the nervousness that is her partner on stage. She was real and one of us, until she reached back and the magical force of her upper register brought us to our feet. The girl can sing!

My companions said they’d never seen or heard a female vocalist like this in their lifetimes. They had never seen the young Streisand nor the essential Garland. But such comparisons are for future analysts. Adele is the superstar of today, and that was just fine for all in attendance. The crowd, consisting of superstars, jaded industryites who have seen it all, and young fans and radio contest winners, all left happy to have been part of the musical event of the young century.

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