On Tuesday 15 March, I went to see Adele play the first night of eight sell-out nights at the O2 at the start of her 25 World Tour. One woman, 93 dates. Here's what went down.
I love my music. God only knows how I LOVE my music because music is the only truth. But tonight I was made to eat my words.
I was never a fan of Adele from the very beginning. Despite being a 'council kid' myself, the moment that album came out just reminded me of all the 'council houses' blasting out Adele from open windows when all I wanted to do was escape - because in my time in 'Council Birmingham' - it had gone from open windows of '80s UB40 to the '90s of the next soulless dance acts of heartbreak and sex and as soon as the '00s broke, the 'council' airspace was filled with Adele. I just wanted to escape and closed my lugholes to these heartbroken women blasting it out on cheap speakers wanting the world outside to hear their pain.
I won't lie, in the years since her rise, I often tapped a foot and clicked a finger at her 'ditties' thinking, yeah, that's alright, Jesus Christ, she's got a pair of lungs on her! I stood beside her in the early days at festivals in queues for beer and down the front for bands and often wondered just what 'it' was. Watching her, just trying to dissect exactly what 'it' was.
Don't get me wrong, I'm as common as fucking muck. I'm not a snob (or music snob) by any stretch of the imagination but something, somewhere just didn't connect or get the Lego block 'click' with her. My soul showed defiance. Something about the 'Brit School' mentality when she won that first Brit Award, despite me meeting her in person and seeing her realness. I stood defiant. I can't explain why.
I grew up on Madonna. I consumed Ciccone at every opportunity that I could. Because it fed me. In my almost 33 years on this planet, I've always said that there's a Madonna song for every time and situation of a woman's life and for the moments still to come.
When I was a chubby little ball of nothing being bullied at school from the age of five, with a narcissistic arsehole of a 'Father' emotionally and physically abusing my wonderful mother at home, I stood there in the playground and fluffed up my fat, chubby feathers and balled up my fists and closed my eyes and thought to myself "What Would Madonna Do?!". Those moments made me grow and gave me strength that I carry to this day. I defeated the bullies, I deflected the pain and came out stronger.
When I came across a fabulous little art book entitled What Would Madonna Do?! in my first job in 'music' at a record store when I was 18-years-old, I devoured it with my heart wide open because it was letters from women around the world saying that they'd done exactly the same throughout the years and it got them through. To this day, that book is always in my top drawer beside my bed. I've always advocated Madonna as my idol, my inspiration.
There are SO many women out there that I look up to for strength and encouragement. Tonight, Adele blew everything outta the water.
I went in wanting her to win me over. She didn't win me over. She had me hook, line and fucking sinker. From the very first note. (This is coming from someone who couldn't even stomach sitting through a whole Adele single, let alone an album, just shut your whining was always the first thing that came to mind!)
She was real. And she was powerful. And she was human and a friend. And she had the whole of the goddamn O2 on the tip of her fake fucking fingernails and it dangled in her realness like a goddamn nail charm. And it was fabulous.
She'd hold a note and say 'Hello...' with her eyes, point a 'YES' with her flat footed ballet slippers under her beautiful diamanté gown. She connected, she talked and to be honest even if there were no songs whatsoever she could host a sold out The Vagina Monologues for two weeks solid in the O2 just with her banter. (Take note for the next tour Eve Ensler!) Tonight, she won me over and I ate every single one of my thoughts and words and even cried a lot of them away.
The only other gig I've emerged from feeling that uplifted was The Flaming Lips (after dancing onstage with them three times!) but tonight I felt cleansed and fabulous and free. It want just 'Fanny power' it was just downright talent, beauty and humanity.
As I head home on the tube right now looking at the faces of strangers staring me out.
I'm smiling. And as I live here in Adele's 'Hometown Glory' sometimes feeling like a stranger myself, I smile and in the back of my mind I think: "What Would Adele Do?!" I know that when I get home tonight, I'm going to file her next to Ella and Nina and Billie and Amy and Madonna (but Adele's going to the top of the fucking pile).