Review - Adele - Live at the Royal Albert Hall
I realized while listening to Adele’s new live album ‘Live at the Royal Albert Hall’ that I never actually published a review on her ‘21’. I can’t believe it. ‘21’ is the BIGGEST album in the world this year, and one of my absolute favorites; how did I not write about it?
It seems that even the best of us bloggers have things slip through our fingers. Thankfully, this can be rectified right now.
As I mentioned, Adele has graced the world with a live album from her performance at the Royal Albert Hall in her hometown of London. The album is a collection of her favorites (and ours) from both ‘19’ and ‘21’, as well as two additional tracks thrown in for good measure. So, to be perfectly honest, if you have both of those albums, you kind of know what to expect from this release. Kind of.
First off, the producers behind this live album idea had a big decision to make. Adele had a huge year where she absolutely exploded all over the world, due to her top singles “Rolling In The Deep” and “Someone Like You”. Now, we all know these songs to be of heartbreak, revenge – real emotions. Adele has become a poster child for serious artistic music about her broken, broken heart.
Well, if you have ever been to an Adele show, or heard anything in detail about them, you know that Ms. Adkins seems to be leading a double life. When she isn’t breaking your heart, she will apparently throw out some of the crassest jokes imaginable (some are so bad, I won’t even mention them here). It seems that she can be a real entertainer – and not just with her singing.
Now, imagine you go out and purchase this album after hearing “Someone Like You” on the radio, only to hear that same girl telling a completely disgusting blonde joke. Doesn’t quite fit, does it? Instead of recording a whole show and simply putting it to wax, as some have done (so you get the entire concert experience), they have cut out just about any word that comes out of her mouth that isn’t sung. While I understand the thought behind this (and one would argue the necessity), you are losing something of the real artist behind all this. Adele telling such jokes almost makes it ok for us all to feel so down about our lost lovers; there is light at the end of the tunnel, and life can be fun again! I fear they are keeping her too serious, dooming her to a future of only ballads and ‘you broke my heart and I don’t need you’ anthems. But, let’s not worry too much on that now.
A second thing that I want to quickly mention (but certainly not stress) is when this album was recorded. The concert took place on September 22nd of this year, and, as we all know, Adele went in for vocal cord surgery not two months after this. While she is still incomparable, you can hear where those magic pipes have begun to hurt. You know that amazing note at the end of “Set Fire To The Rain”? Not only does she not pull it off, but she knows she won’t in advance, so she avoids it altogether. I don’t know which is sadder.
Finally, let me just say what you all probably already know: this live album is absolutely fantastic in pretty much every way. I almost – ALMOST – didn’t expect a whole lot out of this album when I started to listen. I mean, I’ve been listening to ‘19’ for years, and most of the songs on ‘21’ have been on repeat for me for months. What more can she do with the same songs?
‘Live at the Royal Albert Hall’ is a completely cathartic experience. This was one of the few albums that when I reviewed it, I put the headphones on, lay down, closed my eyes, and let it have its complete effect. Listening to this album is like watching the movie ‘Titanic’ for the one hundredth time; you know exactly what is going to happen, but you still can’t escape the heartbreak (and you don’t want to).
It doesn’t help that one of the album’s two new songs (they are both covers, but new for Adele fans) is Bonnie Raitt’s classic “I Can’t Make You Love Me”. Nothing will ever topple the original of that song, but of all the people who have tried, Adele comes pretty close.
By the end (it ends with “Someone Like You” and “Rolling in the Deep”, by the way – she makes you wait for ‘em), both Adele’s throat and your emotions are exhausted, but it was well worth the effort. Just don’t listen to it more than once in a 24 hour period. I don’t think anyone could survive that.
Listen to: the trailer for the DVD that accompanies this.