Friday, June 8, 2012

RECORD REVIEW: Adele "Live at The Royal Albert Hall"

Live at 
The Royal Albert Hall
(Columbia Records)

Hey — hear that?
That's the sound
of human voices
— singing. But
what's that other
sound? Oh yeah,
that's the sound
of humans 
playing instruments.

The meteoric rise and current mega success of Britain's Adele Adkins certainly comes as no surprise to me. She's merely reaping well-deserved rewards for doing what music artists are supposed to do — create quality music. (Build it and they will come.) But therein lies the very reason that so many others appear baffled by her success. Unlike most, if not all of today's acknowledged pop culture-types, Adele doesn't produce inane computer-enhanced tracks featuring yodels, "uh-huhs" and "awe yeahs" over top of mind-numbing electronic-generated beats merely as a means of providing a soundtrack to this week's teen-targeted YouTube viral porn clip. Adele is a bona fide artist — a shtick-free singer, songwriter and performer of the highest caliber — with class and style to boot.

Hey Adele — nice package!
(CD / DVD combo)
Recorded live in concert on September 22, 2011 at London's Royal Albert Hall, this amazing double CD / DVD combo perfectly showcases the Grammy-winning artist as she fronts a mighty band in a legendary venue before a huge and adoring crowd.

From her Debbie Gibson-like (circa '89)silhouette entrance, Adele immediately commands the stage and captivates the audience with her personable charm and confidence. "I've seen The Spice Girls and Enrique Iglesias here (Albert Hall)," she confessed to her flock in an (extremely) thick Cockney accent.

Seeming to follow the traditional wedding mantra of offering something old, something new, something borrowed and something blue(s), Adele serves up a musical smorgasbord through the record's 17-song, 90-plus-minute running time.

After kicking off the show with "Hometown Glory" from her multi-platinum selling 2008 debut, 19, the 24-year old phenom quickly focuses on her current record, leading her band through a string of numbers from her multi-platinum selling 2011 sophomore release, 21, including "I'll Be Waiting," "Don't You Remember," "Turning Tables," and "Set Fire to the Rain."

In the "something borrowed" category, Adele delivers compelling remakes of The Steel Driver's "If It Hadn't Been for Love" and Bonnie Raitt's (Reid and Shamblin penned) Top 20 hit "I Can't Make You Love Me."  And her versions of The Cure classic "Love Song" and Bob Dylan's "Make You Feel My Love" sound so fresh and unique that you just might forget about the original recordings. The set also includes the must-play fan faves, "Chasing Pavements," "Rumour Has It," "Rolling in the Deep" and "Someone Like You."

The connection here between artist and audience is honest and pure. And although countless live records and videos have failed over the years properly to capture the ambiance or recreate the magic of a personal concert experience, this one delivers in spades!

-Christopher Long
(June 2012)

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