The new season of Live from the Music Den premieres on PBS stations this Friday, February 3 (check local listings) with a concert performance by 2011’s top selling performer, Adele. Anyone questioning why the singer/songwriter achieved massive popular and critical success last year, and why she’s likely to leave the upcoming Grammy Awards with an arm full of trophies, need only watch this intimate concert. Recorded at the Santa Monica Bay Woman’s Club, the mostly acoustic set features the young British artist performing selections from her platinum selling album, 21, as well as its 2008 predecessor, 19. Backed by a just a piano player and/or a guitarist, the focus is squarely on Adele’s remarkable voice.
Simply put, she’s stunning. There was no trickery in the record booth when came to making 21. This woman can SING! She nails every note and phrase with the ease and polish of a someone who has been around a hell of a lot longer than six years. What I especially loved is that there is nothing robotic about her performance. Like the greatest singers, she makes each audience member, whether they’re seated in the small auditorium of this concert, or sitting at home watching on television, feel as if she’s speaking directly to them. That is the sign of a true artist. Additionally, Adele has a wonderful rapport with the crowd that is loose and funny, as if she’s just another friend telling stories in a bedroom, kitchen, basement or pub. That looseness only adds to her appeal.
My one small criticism of the program, which also includes snippets of an interview with Adele, is the editing of the concert. I understand that in this age of live television that audiences are accustomed to multiple cuts and swooping dolly shots every five seconds or so- call it the American Idol effect. However, with a singer as mesmerizing as Adele, and with the intensely personal songs she’s performing, I would have loved more static, single takes of just her. When you have someone this wonderful on stage, it gets distracting every time the camera cuts away. Nevertheless, you shouldn’t let my problem with the post production prevent you from watching this episode of Live from the Artists Den. This episode shows how special Adele is and why she’s connected with millions of people. Plus, her cover of “(You Make Me Feel Like) A Natural Woman” is stunning.