There are a few moments in your life that instantly cement themselves as core memories, ones you'll remember when you're 90. Your first kiss, the birth of a child are a couple of no-brainers, certainly. But then there are those experiences we have in between the typical rites of passage that utterly blindside you. For me, that moment was the vibe that existed inside Radio City Music Hall as international mega-giant star Adele performed her first concert in four years, an exclusive preview of her highly anticipated new album, "25."
Having won my tickets through a record label-run sweepstakes, I was, as the saying goes, "just happy to be in the building." As I waited in a Will-Call line that wrapped three city blocks to enter said building with my eager wife, I was offered $250 for one of those tickets. He could've offered a cool grand. The answer was unequivocally "no." Quite simply, you can't put a price on being present for history.
As we neared the entrance, I was tapped on the shoulder by an English woman behind me.
"Excuse me, but you don't have your tickets yet, right?" she nervously asked.
It turns out she had won her tickets a mere 48 hours earlier from a London radio station and was concerned she'd flown all the way to New York City only to miss it. The significance of this performance was beginning to sink in.
As we took our seats in the second mezzanine, though, a certain discomfort came over us. Considering the recent terror attacks (and specifically the shootings at the Eagles of Death Metal concert at the Bataclan in Paris), my wife and I shot each other an anxious look as we panned the surrounding area. We noticed others doing the same. Despite the forthcoming beauty, an uncomfortable ugliness still loomed.
However, what pure art does is washes away that which is ugly in the world. Jimmy Fallon came out to offer an introduction to Adele, deeming her a "once in a generation artist." And as Adele herself stepped to center stage, sparkling in a dress befitting her persona, the crowd erupted in glee. Not a soul could feel anything but euphoria.
Thundering through new songs "Hello" and "When We Were Young" as well as known hits from her "21" and "19" albums, Adele proved in a little over an hour why her legend is only just starting to take shape. While delighting the crowd with her monstrous vocal range, the singer joked about such things as having gas on stage, being a bad guitar player, and "sh*tting herself" from nerves. With her candor, Adele exhibited a trait that adds to her legend exponentially: She is not afraid to come across like a vulnerable, faulted, human being.
Watching Adele on stage is an intimate, connected experience. Admitting fully to her trepidation about playing her first concert in four years, she builds banter with her audience that creates the feel of watching your niece perform at a cramped Irish pub on a Thursday night. Put another way, she's fearless in exposing her fears and doesn't shy away from pulling the curtain back on herself to expose her vulnerabilities and motivations. It makes the enormous talent she possesses that much more appreciated. Because we know she's sharing it despite the fear that it'll be rejected.
Near the end of her performance, as the crowd swelled with yet another standing ovation, Adele herself broke into tears. "I've been dying to do a f*cking show," she shouted. The New York City crowd roared in approval. With an orchestra behind her, and an audience that included Donald Trump, Bradley Cooper, Tina Fey, and Jennifer Lawrence, it's clear that there's a shared eagerness from her to share her talent and for us to wholly, voraciously consume it.
This special will air December 14 on NBC.