February 25, 2011
“Live From The Artists Den” Taping
Los Angeles, CA
Last night I went out to dinner with a friend. Within minutes of sitting down at the table, the topic of music arose. “I don’t really listen to music much,” our waiter informed us. We looked at him in sheer disbelief. He may as well have been speaking another language. “Except Adele! I LOVE Adele!! She’s amazing! The new album is brilliant! Have you heard it?? I really only listen to Adele. She’s so. . .” Suddenly we couldn’t get him to shut up about music. Adele’s music has permeated the consciousness of even a self-proclaimed non-music fan and moves him to such a degree that he passionately speaks about Adele as if he were a life-long super fan.
“I’m going to see her perform tomorrow night,” I replied with a smile.
“You are??? Are you going to cry when she sings ‘Someone Like You’?” he asked.
Tonight I was fortunate enough to attend the taping of Adele’s performance for “Live From The Artists Den. ” Usually when I see a spectacular show, the words flow with ease as I later recount it. In this case, I’m finding it difficult to articulate in words the brilliance of Adele, her music, and the experience of this show. Words feel too limiting, too definitive, but I will do my best in hopes that it inspires you to see Adele live and watch “Live From The Artists Den” when it airs.
Adele’s “secret show” took place at Santa Monica Bay Women’s Club, in a beautiful ballroom with hardwood floors. Rows of chairs, draped in white slipcovers, filled the room. “I came here earlier for sound check and no one was here. It looked like it was set for a wedding. . . Someday. . . fingers crossed… ” Adele laughed. While not traditionally a music venue, Santa Monica Bay Women’s Club happens to be one of the best-sounding venues in Los Angeles. There was so much space in Adele’s voice, supported perfectly by the room, sonically, it felt as though Adele was breathing for all of us.
When Adele sang, I could see sound. I watched the tones travel, bounce, roll, morph, intersect, and dance around as she sang. It felt like Adele was playing with her voice, as if they were childhood friends on a playground. You could feel the breeze and hear the smack of their hands in a high-five, each time they passed one another on the swings.
Every note was intentional, but didn’t feel controlled. I’ve never experienced anything quite like this. Typically when I’ve seen an exceptional vocalist perform, they’re so good that they simply nail every note. Sometimes they may add something even more challenging to illustrate the sheer depth of their talent, and they sing the songs with perfection. Adele is even better than that. It didn’t feel like she was singing the songs or hitting the notes or “showing us” what she could do. It felt as though she was spontaneously creating each note, every sound, every variation, before us, as she felt was perfect for that particular moment. Adele is among the most “present” musicians I’ve ever seen perform.
While this is the first time I’ve seen Adele live, I imagine she never sings a song precisely the same way she sang it before. The variations may be minute, but they’re felt nonetheless, and her voice provides the space to do this as if it’s effortless. I can only describe the feeling I experienced as “space.” There is so much room in Adele’s voice, there’s so much space when she sings, she takes you on a journey with each song, rather than simply singing them to you. You may be sitting or standing very still when you see Adele perform, but you will be moved greatly.
It’s refreshing to see sheer talent on stage. No exorbitant lighting. No elaborate set design. No short skirts or flashy costumes. Nothing about Adele’s show says, “Hey! Look over here. . . ” or “let me distract you with this. . . ” Adele is pure talent. You don’t need to look anywhere else. Just listen.
Adele is setting records with her latest album, 21. She is the first living artist to achieve the feat of two top five hits in both the UK Singles Chart and the UK Album Chart simultaneously since The Beatles in 1964* The album debuted at #1 in the UK and simultaneously in nine other countries. Having been released in the U.S. just this past Tuesday, 21 is expected to debut #1 on the U.S. album charts as well. After expressing immense gratitude for her success, Adele interjected her surprise, “But. . . I didn’t think I wrote number one songs.” Yes, you do.
Thankfully, even in the face of disposable “radio hits,” people still recognize undeniable talent, music with soul, integrity, and deeper meaning – and they want it. Tickets to Adele’s summer tour went on sale prior to the release of her latest album in the U.S., and shows sold out within minutes. People will still pay for the experience of good music. There is mass demand for quality. Adele is a testament to that.
“Live From The Artists Den” is entering its third season on public television in April. The air date of Adele’s performance is TBD, but I will update this post once it’s confirmed. I encourage you to support The Artists Den whether by watching, purchasing DVDs of previous shows or compilation CDs, or by attending a live taping if ever you have the opportunity. Our support of programming like The Artists Den and musicians like Adele is a powerful vote for quality music.
*Official Charts Company