The nerves were all part of the show when Adele launched her long-awaited Vegas residency on Friday night. After the notorious rescheduling of her dates at just one day’s notice in January, it was never going to be possible to ignore the high stakes – even in a town built on colossal bets.
“I’m so nervous and I’m so scared and I’m so happy,” she said. “It might be a bit wobbly at times because my nerves are out of control … It’s a bloody massive week for me this week. It’s the Walking Dead finale on Sunday!” In an Instagram post on Thursday night, she wrote that she had “never been more nervous before a show”.
“Thank you so much for coming back to me,” she said to an audience of more than 4,000 that included her son, Angelo. “It looks just like I imagined it would.”
And as the critics’ verdicts come in, it all seems to have paid off. Receiving a standing ovation at both ends of her performance at the Colosseum venue in the Caesars Palace hotel, the 34-year-old singer judged the show “just perfect”.
Billboard’s Katie Atkinson called the show “utterly and breathlessly spectacular”, while USA Today’s Melissa Riggieri described the vibe as “bawdy, emotional and completely unscripted”. During the evening, Adele fired a T-shirt cannon into the audience, telling fans that it contained “a signed T-shirt, a handwritten note and 50 bucks”.
The much anticipated residency had been planned for the beginning of the year, before a dissatisfied Adele cancelled at the last minute. She described the decision as “horrible”, but later explained that there were problems with the visuals. “The stage setup wasn’t right,” she said to Elle magazine. “It was very disconnected from me and my band, and it lacked intimacy.”
Adele began the evening with her 2015 hit Hello (she told Oprah this would probably “always” be the case as “it would be a bit weird if it was halfway through a set”), before singing songs including Easy On Me, Rolling in the Deep, Hometown Glory, I Drink Wine and a visual effects-packed rendition of Skyfall accompanied by a 24-piece string section. She also performed Set Fire to the Rain alongside a waterfall and an engulfed piano.
While singing her nostalgic 2015 track When We Were Young, she walked into the audience to speak to them about their favourite childhood memories before hugging her boyfriend, sports agent Rich Paul.
Onstage, she addressed the many rumours that had been circulating since January. “I’d really like to thank Caesars because there has been a lot of shit written about me since I cancelled my shows,” she said. “I tell you, 90% of it is absolutely completely made up – there’s been rumours that I’m moving hotels and I’m moving theatres and all this, and never once did they ask [me] any questions.”
Celebrity stylist Jamie Mizrahi revealed that Adele would wear a different dress each weekend to ensure she remains “authentic”. She also told the Wall Street Journal that Adele would be barefoot while performing, so each dress must go to the floor. “We’re open to embellishment and accents of colour, but everything will be a black gown to the floor, except special shows, like New Year’s Eve,” she said.
Adele’s residency will last until March 2023. Official tickets on Ticketmaster have sold out, leaving only resellers charging up to $45,000 a ticket. She follows in the footsteps of Céline Dion, Cher, Madonna and Elton John. “I have no idea what I’m embarking on for five months, but I can’t fucking wait,” she said. “So thank you for being my first night.”
This week also saw Adele receive seven Grammy nominations, including record and album of the year; she faces competition from Beyoncé and Harry Styles.
The singer will reportedly take a break from music after the residency ends to work on an online degree in English literature.