Words by Christopher Kevin Au
After spending your adolescent years living off Mi Goreng and Paddlepops, and clubbing as late as the lockout laws will allow you before subsequently vomiting in the back alleys of Oxford Street, something peculiar happens when you head into your late twenties. Your Facebook feed will become filled with news of engagements, weddings and pregnancies, all of which you’ll glaze over while sitting on a crusty corduroy couch in the inner-city sharehouse you’re renting but can’t acutally afford.
As you stare down the barrel of death and ponder the real possibility of leaving this life unfulfilled and alone – sans seven pet cats – your late twenties might feel like a make or break moment. In fact, it’s a phenomenon so common that it’s inspired this viral video and runs along a similar path to this episode of The Simpsons starring Cypress Hill. You’ll think about the fact that Rich Chigga and Kylie Jenner are both much younger yet much more accomplished than you, while the idea of dabbing or doing a shoey is legitimately terrifying.
For some, this fear inspires an epiphany, whereby we become more responsible in an attempt to ease ourselves into the warm cocoon of adult life. Personally, I’ve learned how to steam vegetables and actually started drinking water regularly for the first time in my 26 years of being reluctantly alive. Huge! Last Saturday night, Sydney played host to gigs with Diplo, Post Malone, Martin Garrix, Just A Gent, Anna Lunoe and more. I didn’t witness any of these sets. Why? Because I’m old, and I was trekking to ANZ stadium to see Adele with my mother.
At Central Station, hopping on the train to Olympic Park is a distinctly different experience. Anyone who attended Stereosonic (RIP) knows that this train ride was usually filled with shirtless hooligans singing the hook to ‘Feel So Close’ by Calvin Harris and chugging Smirnoff Double Black cans relentlessly. Tonight, there’s not a pair of speed dealers or a Lacoste cap in sight. Rather, the carriages are largely filled with middle-aged couples whose clothes have actually been ironed, and they probably have names like Mark & Janine, or Todd & Caroline.
Everyone is jolly and well-behaved as we exit the train, and the police have a dandy evening of tipping their hats at passers-by rather than throwing lads on the floor and strip-searching them for ecstasy. Outside of the stadium, there are numerous merchandise tents and food stalls to cater for almost 100,000 attendees. I consider purchasing a $35 Adele sleep mask to cover my squinty Asian eyes during nap time, or a $45 Adele notebook to write down lyrics for my next rap single. Instead, I opt for a $5 chocolate soft serve (with a Flake, obviously) and a $10 spinach and cheese gozleme that Mum goes halves in. Thanks, Mum!
As we approach ANZ Stadium, there are signs warning against displaying political banners and material. I quickly throw my stack of socialist pamphlets in the bin along with my gozleme plate. Once inside, the sheer size of Adele’s grandiose production becomes clear. It’s my first time witnessing a gig which is all seated – people have packed their favourite snacks and all the smart ones bring cushions and blankets. A Mexican wave lasts seven laps of the stadium before people get too tired to lift their arms vertically. There is also ‘High‘ by Lighthouse Family aka the greatest song of all time playing on the speakers. When it’s showtime, screens rise from the ground to reveal a round stage branching off into a wider circular walkway.
The opening notes of ‘Hello’ sound, the crowd roars, and Adele herself appears in a purple sparkly dress. The spectacular has begun, and Adele makes her vocal prowess clear on one of her more recent hit singles. Tracks like ‘I Miss You’ and ‘I’ll Be Waiting’ continue to keep the emo sing-a-longs loud as ever.
Contrasting against her arsenal of sombre piano ballads, Adele offers some classic British banter throughout the night – making jokes, telling anecdotes about her songs, pulling goofy faces and even singing a fan ‘Happy Birthday’ in the front row. Shouts to Debbie from Penrith for seeing Adele on her 50th birthday! It’s a refreshing change from the usual half-hearted, copy and paste conversations that artists offer at gigs, and really assists in the energy flow of the night. Chatting casually on the magnificent stage, Adele feels like both your next door neighbour and a goddess – and when she pulls out a t-shirt gun, we’re happy that we can squeeze in yet another reference from The Simpsons in this review.
‘Set Fire To The Rain’ is a clear highlight, with stormy visuals on the screens pouring on the round walkway that’s now illuminated as a ring of flames, and fireworks erupting at the track’s crescendo. During the performance of James Bond theme ‘Skyfall,’ a procession stern-looking secret agent guys emerge and line the walkway. It’s believable enough to have me checking my pockets for any more of those damn socialist pamphlets. The gig ends with back-to-back belters in ‘Rolling In The Deep’ and ‘Someone Like You,’ with the more upbeat former single bleeding into a pensive finish.
I already knew Adele was the GOAT when she rapped Nicki Minaj’s iconic verse from ‘Monster‘ flawlessly – this show is just the icing on the cake. Tonight’s ambitious two-hour extravaganza proves that Adele’s catalogue is no less magnetic in the live arena, with her soaring vocals holding the attention of an entire stadium. It’s a rollercoaster of emotions filled with ballads on ballads, plus quality chat and fireworks – and if this is what it feels like to be old, then send me straight to the senior citizen’s home.
Head image via Getty