Adele has spoken of her grief and guilt over the loss of her high-profile Las Vegas residency, which she cancelled at the last minute in January, disappointing fans who had paid thousands of pounds to travel and attend.
“I was a shell of a person for a couple of months,” the singer reveals in a radio interview. “I just had to wait it out and just grieve it, I guess, just grieve the shows and get over the guilt, but it was brutal.”
Her comments come on the heels of her concerts on Friday and Saturday in London – the first time she has performed live in five years. Ambushed by emotion at points during the performances, the singer let the crowd of 65,000 know that new US dates would be announced “very, very soon”.
Now Adele, born Adele Adkins, tells the host of Desert Island Discs, Lauren Laverne, that she needed to deal privately with the aftermath of her decision to axe the residency. “The show was not good enough. Maybe my silence has been deadly, I don’t know. But it was horrible,” she said.
However, the multi-award-winning star has no regrets about pulling out: “I definitely felt everyone’s disappointment and I was devastated, and I was frightened about letting them down. I’d thought I could pull it together and make it work and I couldn’t, and I stand by that decision.
“I don’t think any other artist would have done what I did and that is why it was such a massive, massive story,” adds Adele. “It was like, ‘I don’t care. You can’t buy me, you can’t buy me for nothing. I’m not going to just do a show because I have to or because people are going to be let down or because we’re going to lose loads of money.’”
She also believes that there was no reason to stay in constant social media dialogue: “Of course I could be someone on TikTok or Instagram Live every day, being like ‘I’m working on it’. Of course I’m working on it! I’m not gonna update you if I ain’t got nothing to update you with, because that just leads to more disappointment.”
Speaking on BBC Radio 4 on Sunday morning, Adele, 34, talks about how she has ducked out of public scrutiny for whole chunks of her adult life. Her need to behave like “such a recluse” may even have “fuelled” public interest in her, she suspects: “Sometimes it used to be two years and I wouldn’t be seen anywhere. I used to just hang out at home. But also I have a whole setup of how I move, and no one ever knows, just so I can go out and be completely carefree.”
Now with the help of her new partner – the US sports agent Rich Paul – the Londoner, who lives in Beverly Hills, says she has been getting ready to step back into the limelight. Paul, she says, is encouraging her to appear in public. “He’s like, ‘If you want to go to that restaurant, you should go and try the food at that restaurant and if you want to go to this birthday party, then you should be going. You can’t miss out on these things – what’s the worst that can happen?’”
The singer tells Laverne about her reliance on regular therapy sessions and her growing acceptance that she is “a sad person”. Age and parenthood have also helped her, she explains. “I haven’t got time now. I am tired now: I am older. It doesn’t take much for me to be content and happy.”
But stage fright is something she is unlikely to kick: “My adrenaline means I am excited and my nerves mean I want to go and do a great show. When I don’t feel like that, I am done – l won’t do it any more. I think a lot of people actually don’t care any more and it breaks my heart when I go to a show or I hear an album and I think: ‘I don’t think they care about what they are doing any more’.”
Speaking frankly about her absent father, who died last year, Adele says that as a child he often let her down due to his “demons”. “I didn’t have his attention. I decided to stop seeing him when I was about 12.” But when he became ill, she visited him and found they shared a sense of humour.
Discussing her recent widely publicised weight loss, she tells Laverne she regards it as a private issue but is upset by the idea that some fans may think she has “betrayed” them.
“I understand why the press want to know, because I did not share my journey like other people do … I did it on the quiet.” Exercising, she says, has given her “focus” and “made me feel like I was getting stronger mentally, by getting stronger physically.”
“But I felt terrible for some people that felt like other people’s comments meant they weren’t looking good or that they weren’t beautiful.”