Adele: Live at the Royal Albert Hall [DVD]

A look at Adele's live show that is as conventional as her music.

Adele: Live at the Royal Albert HalArtist: Adele

Label: Columbia/XL Recordings
US Release Date: 2011-11-29
UK Release Date: 2011-11-28

Since Adele is so open on her albums, I will begin this review with an honest statement: I don’t care for Adele’s music. Yes, her voice is unbelievable and her everygirl personality is refreshing, but musically and artistically I find her a bit dull. In fact, one of my favorite pieces of music writing of 2011 was ex-Arab Strap singer Aidan Moffat’s withering Quietus piece on “Someone Like You” (look it up; it’s worth more than the energy it takes to type “Aidan Moffat Quietus” into Google).

I tried putting personal opinions aside when watching Live At The Royal Albert Hall and listening to the accompanying CD. Although the experience taught me that Adele is an engaging enough performer, the overall sensation remained one of boredom.

Amy Winehouse, before she devolved, emanated sass and sadness; she compelled in a live setting. Despite possessing a blazing voice, Adele is at her liveliest when bantering between songs. Performance-wise, she does little more than sway. Likewise, her backing band lacks the swagger of Winehouse’s Dap Kings collaborators.

However, Adele’s devotion to her audience is refreshingly genuine and, apart from her voice, the most intriguing part of her performance. When the big hits come, she surrenders the mic to the audience, who sing the choruses of “Someone Like You” and “Rolling in the Deep” (the set’s mighty closer) word for word. The latter song’s force, however, is slightly marred when the heavens open to pour down gold confetti. For a song filled with such hurt and vengeance, the gesture feels a little out of place.

Due to being only two albums deep into what looks to be a prosperous career, the Royal Albert set is heavy on covers. Of the lot, her versions of Bonnie Raitt’s “I Can’t Make You Love Me” and Bob Dylan’s “Make You Feel My Love” (sung in tribute to Winehouse) are the most successful. Both seem deeply heartfelt, like Adele understands, and is the only one who can make these words that are not hers ring true.

A cover of The Cure’s “Love Song” is rendered enough to make it seem an appropriate choice, yet is too drawn out to make much of an impact in a live setting. Her cover of The Steeldrivers’ “If It Hadn’t Been For Love” seems more valid, as Adele does her best to give recognition to one of an act far lesser known than she. However, it also makes one wish that Adele would get back to us when she her sole focus becomes singing murder ballads.

Much like Adele’s music, the concert footage is very conventional; Adele and her band are framed artfully, and the rapturous audience is shown frequently. Extras are scant, but a ten minute featurette gives a nice look behind the scenes and shows Adele at her everygirl best, expressing her pre-show nerves and an authentic appreciation of her fans love for her fans.

A live CD that omits the between song banter is included in the release, as well. Without Adele’s wit to carry them, proceedings are nearly saved from being background noise by Adele’s mighty vocals, which feel even more impeccably crystal clear without the aid of the live DVD’s visuals. Yet, the fact that Adele does have talent is as clear as those vocals; one just wishes she would convey her skills in a way that is a little less... wet.


Cover down, pray through: Bob Dylan's underrated, misunderstood "gospel years" are meticulously examined in this welcome new installment of his Bootleg series.

"How long can I listen to the lies of prejudice?
How long can I stay drunk on fear out in the wilderness?"
-- Bob Dylan, "When He Returns," 1979

Bob Dylan's career has been full of unpredictable left turns that have left fans confused, enthralled, enraged – sometimes all at once. At the 1965 Newport Folk Festival – accompanied by a pickup band featuring Mike Bloomfield and Al Kooper – he performed his first electric set, upsetting his folk base. His 1970 album Self Portrait is full of jazzy crooning and head-scratching covers. In 1978, his self-directed, four-hour film Renaldo and Clara was released, combining concert footage with surreal, often tedious dramatic scenes. Dylan seemed to thrive on testing the patience of his fans.

Keep reading... Show less

Inane Political Discourse, or, Alan Partridge's Parody Politics

Publicity photo of Steve Coogan courtesy of Sky Consumer Comms

That the political class now finds itself relegated to accidental Alan Partridge territory along the with rest of the twits and twats that comprise English popular culture is meaningful, to say the least.

"I evolve, I don't…revolve."
-- Alan Partridge

Alan Partridge began as a gleeful media parody in the early '90s but thanks to Brexit he has evolved into a political one. In print and online, the hopelessly awkward radio DJ from Norwich, England, is used as an emblem for incompetent leadership and code word for inane political discourse.

Keep reading... Show less

The show is called Crazy Ex-Girlfriend largely because it spends time dismantling the structure that finds it easier to write women off as "crazy" than to offer them help or understanding.

In the latest episode of Crazy Ex-Girlfriend, the CW networks' highly acclaimed musical drama, the shows protagonist, Rebecca Bunch (Rachel Bloom), is at an all time low. Within the course of five episodes she has been left at the altar, cruelly lashed out at her friends, abandoned a promising new relationship, walked out of her job, had her murky mental health history exposed, slept with her ex boyfriend's ill father, and been forced to retreat to her notoriously prickly mother's (Tovah Feldshuh) uncaring guardianship. It's to the show's credit that none of this feels remotely ridiculous or emotionally manipulative.

Keep reading... Show less

If space is time—and space is literally time in the comics form—the world of the novel is a temporal cage. Manuele Fior pushes at the formal qualities of that cage to tell his story.

Manuele Fior's 5,000 Km Per Second was originally published in 2009 and, after winning the Angouléme and Lucca comics festivals awards in 2010 and 2011, was translated and published in English for the first time in 2016. As suggested by its title, the graphic novel explores the effects of distance across continents and decades. Its love triangle begins when the teenaged Piero and his best friend Nicola ogle Lucia as she moves into an apartment across the street and concludes 20 estranged years later on that same street. The intervening years include multiple heartbreaks and the one second phone delay Lucia in Norway and Piero in Egypt experience as they speak while 5,000 kilometers apart.

Keep reading... Show less

Featuring a shining collaboration with Terry Riley, the Del Sol String Quartet have produced an excellent new music recording during their 25 years as an ensemble.

Dark Queen Mantra, both the composition and the album itself, represent a collaboration between the Del Sol String Quartet and legendary composer Terry Riley. Now in their 25th year, Del Sol have consistently championed modern music through their extensive recordings (11 to date), community and educational outreach efforts, and performances stretching from concert halls and the Library of Congress to San Francisco dance clubs. Riley, a defining figure of minimalist music, has continually infused his compositions with elements of jazz and traditional Indian elements such as raga melodies and rhythms. Featuring two contributions from Riley, as well as one from former Riley collaborator Stefano Scodanibbio, Dark Queen Mantra continues Del Sol's objective of exploring new avenues for the string quartet format.

Keep reading... Show less
Pop Ten
Mixed Media
PM Picks

© 1999-2017 All rights reserved.
Popmatters is wholly independently owned and operated.