Adele's Triumphant Return to Houston Almost Distracts Us From President Trump

Toyota Center
November 8, 2016

Bazillion-album-selling singer Adele (fine, it's actually a "mere" 62 million) last performed in Houston in 2009. At Warehouse Live. Obviously, she wasn’t the megastar she’s become since, but that was still a sold-out show, a fact that isn’t all that surprising considering she’d just won the first two of her (to date) ten Grammys.

Seven years is a long time. It’s not exactly “gap between original lineup Guns N’ Roses tours" long, but pretty formidable when you’ve gone from playing clubs to headlining stadiums. Her two-night return to H-Town was/is (second show’s tonight) the toughest ticket in town, though depending on how trustworthy you find the average online reseller, tickets could be had for around $200 for nosebleeds to several thousand for floor seating.

Adding to the excitement of the first show was that it was coincidentally taking place on election night, a fact she mentioned a few times when thanking us for coming out on "this important night." And just to be clear about this up front — in what will hopefully be the only "duh" moment of this review — Adele is an amazing singer. She performed in front of minimalist (for 2016) effects and rarely strayed from center stage (though she opened and closed the show at a separate platform on the TC floor), and her voice filled the arena with such force you almost believed she'd be as impressive even without amplification.

It was a great show, and I wasn't really able to enjoy it.

Obviously it's not Adele's fault her triumphant return to Houston coincided with the night America selected a sausage casing overstuffed with circus peanuts and Tang farts for its 45th president. Right out of the gate, she hit the mostly local crowd right in the feels with shots of the downtown skyline during her second song, "Hometown Glory" (that's some nice pandering, Lou). She chatted copiously (more on that later) with the crowd, including bringing two people onstage at various intervals. It was most definitely, as she put it, "two hours of songs about me and my ex-boyfriends."

Because if you hadn't ever paid attention, that's absolutely the case. Virtually every song she sings is about ex-boyfriends, current boyfriends or future boyfriends, her three albums forming a kind of musical Möbius strip.

One of the exceptions was "Skyfall," which yours truly is in the minority of thinking is one of the least impressive/most on-the-nose Bond themes. Before performing it, Adele related the story of how she came to be recruited for it, which — like all of her anecdotes — was self-deprecating and charming in a way that speakers of cockney English seem most able to pull off.

And if there's an actual show-related complaint to make, it's that she likes to talk. Holy shit, does she like to talk. To be fair, she warns you at the outset that it's how she deals with anxiety, which should engender our sympathy. All the same, in a two-hour show, maybe 80 minutes of it consists of singing. But what singing.

So it's too bad I'd been developing an ulcer over the 2016 election for the past six months, and spent an inordinate amount of time obsessively refreshing the CNN app on my phone (I was far from the only one), and it was a hilariously ironic (hilarionic?) moment when I received a breaking news text about Trump winning North Carolina right as the confetti cannons went off during "Rolling In the Deep." We could've had it all, indeed.

Personal Bias: Simultaneously blown away by her abilities and annoyed that someone so young (28) is so goddamn talented.

The Crowd: More well-heeled than your typical concert crowd, but still eager to get home before 11.

Overheard In The Crowd: "I can't bring booze in?"

Random Notebook Dump: Has there been a Black Mirror episode about people filming entire concerts on their phones?

Hometown Glory
One and Only
Rumour Has It
Water Under the Bridge
I Miss You
Million Years Ago
Don't You Remember
Make You Feel My Love (Bob Dylan cover)
Send My Love (To Your New Lover)
Sweetest Devotion
Chasing Pavements
Someone Like You
Set Fire to the Rain

When We Were Young
Rolling in the Deep