Tears, apologies, screaming fans, a Céline Dion shout-out and 30-plus minutes of banter punctuated the long-awaited two-hour opening performance of “Weekends With Adele” at The Colosseum at Caesars Palace.
Even before she took the stage of The Colosseum at exactly 8:15 p.m. on Friday night, it had been a monumental week for Adele, who received seven Grammy nominations. But onstage she revealed the biggest event for her will come Sunday because it’s the finale of her favorite show, The Walking Dead.
“I’ve got a lot to tell you. It’s a bloody massive week for me. It is the Walking Dead finale on Sunday — can you believe that? Do we have any Walking Dead fans here? I’ve been obsessed with The Walking Dead for over a decade and on Sunday it is all coming to an end … and obviously it’s opening night and the Grammys and the World Cup.”
This note was a lighter moment among heavier ones throughout the singer’s 20-song set. The evening was thick on apologies for last January’s abrupt cancellation hours before “Weekends With Adele” was set to begin its run because it “wasn’t ready,” as she told fans in a video message earlier this year. Almost 10 months to the day later, no one in attendance really seemed to care about that anymore. Ticket prices for the five-month run have soared into the five-figure range with fans happily paying record numbers.
As the crowd of 4,000-plus entered The Colosseum, they saw a single white piano on stage within an illuminated A-frame. With a strict policy that no one would be seated while she was singing, Adele came out right on time with her piano player Eric, in a black gown with a constellation-like design detail, by the looks of it a custom-made Schiaparelli.
She seemed visibly nervous as the music to “Hello” began. Her first words to the crowd were, “I’m shitting myself.” As the thunderous chorus struck, 180-degree floor-to-ceiling screens switched on and the room became surrounded by four enormous projected images of Adele, giving the crowd an up-close look at the singer.
In tears by the end of “Hello,” she said, “I should be giving you a standing ovation, thank you so much for coming back to me. You look amazing, and it looks just like what I imagined it would look like. Just perfect. Thank you. I don’t get to go off stage for about 50 minutes so I’m going to have a shitty face of streamed makeup for the whole first part of the show.”
“Easy On Me,” the second on the set list for the night, was appropriately placed with Adele telling herself and everyone, “Hopefully, over time my nerves will disappear.”
They quickly did. Soon, the singer seemed as excited to be there as everyone else. Paying homage to the goddess who “built” The Colosseum, she giddily shared, “I’m not going to lie, I feel like Céline Dion … was the only reason why I wanted to sing in here. [It] was because of her.”
After getting all that out of the way, she laid the game plan for the night. “This show, this one that we are all at now, this show grows and I wanted to start it small. I want it to be all about me and that is why I came on and did ‘Hello’ just me and him. I want to make it feel like for you what it’s like in the studio for me. What I do when I first start writing a song is I go and I sit at a piano and I just fuck around until something feels good. Then, I just start making a noise and eventually a lot of the songs that you have hopefully heard of materialize. It might be a little wobbly tonight because my nerves are out of control.”
She worked through the jitters by getting close to the audience, cruising through the crowd many times and sitting at a perch on the front of the stage, made especially for her. At one point even showing off that she wasn’t wearing shoes, just some athletic socks, she said, “Do you like my posh socks?” The crowd seemed to eat up these relatable moments. Grabbing a T-shirt gun and firing it into the audience, she gifted fans with items including some new gear, a handwritten note and “$50 to get a drink.”
After “Turning Tables,” a song that “just makes me really fucking angry,” she apologized again for the delay in mounting the show, telling an audience member, “It took nine months to get here, I’m fucking sorry.”
For “I Drink Wine,” the intimate set-up of the singer and her piano player was transformed as a chandelier of hundreds of glasses descended and the A-frame widened for the introduction of the band and backup vocalists.
As she took sips from a cup in between songs, Adele explained, “It looks like I am drinking wine, but I am drinking hot honey. I don’t drink while I’m working, but I am definitely going to need a shot after this.”
By “Water Under the Bridge,” about 30 minutes in, Adele loosened up, revealing that last week she was “sick as a dog” and quarantined herself to the top row of the theater. She said that she knew that if she didn’t perform her first Vegas concert, it would be game over and that “I’m just gonna fall off the face of the Earth.”
“So I was able to come to production rehearsals,” continued Adele, “and I had that very top balcony up there.” In a gesture of good will she pulled some fans from that very area — “the two worst seats in the house” — to the front row.
Her set list also included “Rumor Has It,” as well as “Skyfall,” during which 24 string players performed behind her, arranged Hollywood Squares-style with eight players in three rows.
Presumably taking a break to touch up that makeup, Adele was offstage during a pre-recorded presentation of her song “Cry Your Heart Out” which included vaporous-like video images of her singing.
The show also wowed with even more stage effects. While Adele sang “Set Fire to the Rain,” the stage seemed to fill with cascading drops even as her piano and the stage partly lit up in flames, while during “Hold On,” the venue felt like a lantern festival as synchronistically programmed lighted orbs danced above the audience.
Taking a walk through the crowd, she asked everyone for their favorite childhood memories before going into “When We Were Young.”
After singing “Hold On,” she finally spoke her mind regarding rumors that swirled in the months since the postponement.
“There was so much shit written about me since and I tell you it is absolutely, completely made up and there’s been rumors that I moved hotels and I was moving theaters and all this and never once did [Caesars] ask any questions. They’ve been amazing, so thank you for having me,” she lamented. “It was the worst feeling I ever had, but it was the best decision I ever made.”
Then the lights rose and the cameras flipped, projecting the audience onto the screens during “Someone Like You” and “Rolling in the Deep,” turning the venue into a sing-along, dance-along party. On the latter song, the piano temporarily levitated and appeared to break apart, while a dense confetti storm rained down, minimizing visibility of the stage. Another confetti shower came down for the finale, “Love Is a Game,” as images of hearts on the screens displayed inspirational messages.
The final message on screen as Adele exited the building? “The Beginning.”
As thousands of people poured out of the theater, they clamored to get to the “Weekends With Adele” shop. With a line stretching across the casino, guests waited to snap up items such as a $250 Adele varsity jacket with her album titles 19, 21, 25 and 30 on the sleeve or a $45 Adele Saturn T-shirt — as well as nameplate necklaces with the words “Married,” “Divorced” or “Hello.” Gowns she’d previously appeared in were also on display, including the Schiaparelli from her 2021 Adele One Night Only television special plus lots of merch with song title “I Drink Wine,” and a Dear Adele postcard station complete with a red mailbox to drop a line.
If Lady Gaga raised the bar on Las Vegas residencies with her epic “Jazz + Piano” hit show, Adele has moved it along a bit further with “Weekends With Adele.” And judging by the vibe in the audience, it was well worth the 10-month wait.