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Adele Live

Adele Live at the Royal Albert Hall
Columbia | 108 Minutes

Standing in front of  a simple backdrop of lit lampshades, Brit singer Adele proves she’s worthy of all the hype with this concert film. Filmed against the stunning backdrop of London’s Royal Albert Hall, this show doesn’t contain a lot of razzle-dazzle, but that’s only because Adele doesn’t need it. She lets her vocals do the talking – erhm, singing.

Opening with her earliest hit, “Hometown Glory,” she’s completely poised throughout each song, dressed in black and her usual sleek, retro-style hair and makeup, only breaking her chanteuse role in between numbers, when the Adele with the giggly Cockney accent surfaces to explain the stories behind the songs or offer a few choice swear words to an ex-boyfriend or two. She engages the crowd with her confidences as well as with her singing; much of the audience can be seen singing along during her performance, and her banter brings both laughs and applause, even when she gets a little R-rated.

And then there are the songs, of course.  She performs most of her newest album, 21, as well as a few songs from her previous set, 19, and a couple of covers that she executes beautifully as well. There’s a good mix throughout the setlist, from her poppier numbers (“Set Fire to the Rain,” “Rumour Has It”), emotional new-standards (“Turning Tables,” “Chasing Pavements”), and of course her two biggest singles to date, the woeful but pretty “Someone Like You” and the uber-catchy “Rolling in the Deep,” with its soulful, galloping refrain.

The filming is a bit artsy without being distracting, focusing mostly on Adele herself and utilizing different camera angles to also include the richness of the venue. The packaging complements the setting, rendered in black and white and capturing Adele looking out toward her audience on the cover; added features include a short documentary of around 10 minutes that follows Adele around a bit on the day of the show. But perhaps one of the best ‘features’ is watching Adele slowly comprehend throughout her performance how much her audience appreciates her – after singing “Someone Like You,” the audience gives her a standing ovation, and Adele sheds more than a few tears. For someone who’s only seen her records on the charts for the past few years (her first album, 19, was released in 2008), this is a grand accomplishment, and her performance here is the definitive reason why this was the number one selling music DVD of last year. – Kristi Kates