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The Verdict: A great voice . . . but the gig was a massive letdown

It wasn't supposed to be like this. Actually, I'm not really sure how it was meant to go. Gig of the year, perhaps? Top five? Maybe. But that was before Adele Laurie Blue Adkins took to the stage. Before she had even sang or picked up a guitar.

Indeed, everyone wanted to be at this one. In short, Adele is now a bona fide superstar. No bells, no whistles -- just quality tunes and an extraordinary voice to match.

So, it's no surprise that when the young singer finally makes an entrance into the humble surroundings of the Olympia, as she could have filled the Aviva.

She looks a little nervous, perplexed, even, as to how popular she has become in such a short space of time. An hour-and-a-half later and we're done. Finished. Nothing but a pleasant memory. But by no means a perfect one.

And that just disappoints me. Really, it does. Reports that some touts were selling tickets for close to €1,000 are just frightening, too.

Sure, Adele is a solid live vocalist, but there's a lot of work to be done around her. What's more, I still don't know where to place the blame for what turned out to be a decidedly uneven gig.

Could it be that the instrumentalists were at fault?

That the group of musicians surrounding the 22-year-old singer presented nothing more than a bland backdrop throughout the evening? It's a tough one.

Ordinary

Then again, I might have been expecting too much from the poor girl. Whatever the case, this was a gig that too often followed a straight and narrow path towards the finish line; a pleasing yet slightly ordinary display of some otherwise excellent material.

Of course, Adele sounded superb. What we have here is one of the best voices in pop. Or modern soul. Or whatever she wants to call it. Granted, I don't know what American audiences will make of the London accent, but that's just their fault, innit? Listen to her sing and it doesn't matter.

Indeed, the atmosphere in the room is incredible, especially for a Tuesday night. To be perfectly honest, most of the banter flew right over my head (turns out I had trouble with the accent, too ... or maybe that was just my hearing), but from what I could gather, it involved stories of past relationships and, judging by the audience's reaction, an amusing yarn about her mother. I think.

Elsewhere, the girl delivers some of this show's most memorable moments when accompanied by only one other musician: a pianist.

And that's what I would have liked more of. Those chills that ran down my spine during Bob Dylan's Make You Feel My Love? Wow. And that's only a cover. Let's not forget about the magnificent Someone Like You -- the finest five minutes of the entire evening; a stunning piece of live entertainment where everything just falls right into place. Which kind of makes me wonder what things might have been like had the band left the stage earlier, leaving the only thing that mattered to deliver the goods.

cwasser@herald.ie


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