Concert review: Adele left us wanting more - again

  • Article by: JON BREAM , Star Tribune
  • Updated: January 21, 2009 - 9:14 AM

After a tantalizing 40-minute concert in June, the British pop singer gave us a little more of her luxurious voice, but not enough of her sass.

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Adele

Photo: David Brewster, Star Tribune

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Once was not enough.

Like the prince pining for Cinderella, anyone who saw British pop singer Adele’s Minneapolis debut in June craved more. That show at the now-defunct Theatre de la Jeune Lune was fantastic but fleeting. She unleashed her big voice and even bigger personality but her 40-some minute performance was the musical equivalent of speed dating. We wanted more, much more.

Since then, we listened to Adele’s delicious debut, “19,” which was released shortly after that Minneapolis concert. We saw her sing on “Saturday Night Live” in October (the night the real Sarah Palin, not just Tina Fey-lin, appeared) and watched her earn four Grammy nominations, including best new artist and record of the year. But we yearned for her live, in person, in concert — a full concert — once again.

Our dream came true on Tuesday night at the instantly sold-out Fitzgerald Theatre. And you know what? She remembered us. She vividly recalled our first meeting. On Tuesday, she told us about her bad headache last time at a theatre with the French name she couldn’t pronounce. Heck, she even alluded to my review of the show and the mention how she didn’t seem to know who Bob Dylan was.

This time around, Adele, 20, said relatively little. In fact, she even apologized: “Sorry, I’ve been so quiet. I’m usually really mouthy.” Of course, she talked so fast, like a giddy/nervous teen with a thick British accent, that it was hard to understand what she was saying.

No such problem when she was singing. Her voice was luxurious, emotional and versatile once again. But this time she framed her presentation differently, accompanied by a five-man band instead of merely a guitarist, keyboardist or her own acoustic guitar, as was the case at Jeune Lune.

Even though her repertoire is ballad heavy, Adele varied the arrangements, textures and combinations, allowing her voice to take on more drama, jazzy nuances and coquettish trills. She still did a couple of songs solo on acoustic guitar, with “Crazy for You” taking on a Western vibe with vocalizing that bordered on yodeling. “Best for Last” was effectively rendered solo with her playing a jazzy and often swinging acoustic bass guitar.

The band added an intriguing electronic reggae feel to “Tired” and a full bodied Burt Bacharach vibe to the Grammy-nominated hit “Chasing Pavements” (I could hear Dionne Warwick or Dusty Springfield singing it). But the concert was really about the vocalist and her ability to tell emotional stories — well, mostly heartbreakers —  in many musical styles.

Adele transformed Dylan’s usually mushy “Make You Feel My Love” into something of a torch song. She interpreted Sam Cooke’s “That’s It, I Quit, I’m Moving On” like a saucy blues. And her terrific, torn-up treatment of Etta James’ “Fool That I Am” out-Etta-ed anything Beyonce did portraying James in the recent “Cadillac Records” movie.

In terms of repertoire, the only differences from the Jeune Lune were a segment featuring solos for each band member and an under-rehearsed cover of the Raconteurs’ “Many Shades of Black,” which brought a somewhat forced rock edge to her otherwise intimate and smoothly soulful evening.

This second date lasted only 62 minutes, which is too much of a quickie for a rising star who is the favorite to win the Grammy for best new artist next month. She promised to come back in May after she turns 21 so she can go out drinking. And let’s hope on the third date, she has more material and brings mouthy back.

For a set list and fan comments, go to www.startribune.com/poplife

Jon Bream • 612-673-1719

 

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