Easily one of, if not THE most sought after tickets this year is without doubt for smooth crooner and heartbreak storytelling icon, Adele. Having released her fourth studio album at the end of 2021, the singer soon after announced two giant shows in the famous grounds of London’s Hyde Park as part of the annual BST Hyde Park festival, which has also seen, or will soon see the likes of Pearl Jam, Rolling Stones, Elton John and Eagles play the massive summer event across 3 weeks.
Thankfully the weather was on our side this weekend as we made our way to Hyde Park; along with tens of thousands of other music lovers, all keen to celebrate the return of a national musical treasure. Heading into the festival we felt that immediate “buzz” of festival normality that we recently felt attending Mighty Hoopla and had waited to feel again throughout lockdown when events like BST had come to a screeching halt. Punters wore their finest and most colorful festival attire had the main stage packed by time we arrived at 16.30, just in time to see U.S country/pop superstar, Kacey Musgrave’s perform a mellow set list of career notables. Looking absolutely gorgeous in a pink jumpsuit and rose-tinted glasses, the 6-time Grammy Award winning singer performed a number of tracks from her last studio album, Star-Crossed as well as fan favorites from 2018’s Golden Hour including the whimsical Butterflies.
Declaring to the crowd “I’ve seen a few cowboy hats over here”, it was very clear that there were a large Musgrave’s fanbase in attendance for the singer as she delivered a bouncy disco scented version of High Horse to the crowd that were well into dancing mood; pints or slices of flatbread in hand as they bopped along to the number before making her way through a cover of Fleetwood Mac’s Dreams; lyrics appearing in karaoke style on the enormous screens that backed the Great Oak Stage.
Giving the fast-expanding crowd a breather between sets and a chance to grab a bite to eat at one of the many street food pop ups or beverage points, as 18.30 rolled around it was the turn of UK superstar, Gabrielle. As each act came to stage for their set, the crowd gradually became tighter with people moving closer to the stage for the star of the night.
Confessing that she would probably be at home watching the soaps on TV if it weren’t for Adele inviting her to support the show, the 80’s deep voiced star ran through a string of her most recognized numbers including Give Me A Little More Time, Sunshine, When A Woman and Out Of Reach. While her inclusion in the show might have seemed a little less obvious than another musical peer of the same generation as Adele and Kacey, her appearance was sentimental for Adele who has long-cited Gabrielle as a heavy influence on her own career, as well as adding a nostalgic element to those of us who grew up listening to hits like Rise and Dreams; both of which found a place in the singers set and were met with a welcoming response to the sold-out Hyde Park crowd.
With a final act changeover from 19:30 till 20:20, the crowd shift one final time to become even more tight in anticipation of the final superstar of the day. The stage had been given a final makeover with brown, silver and yellow beads hanging the entire length of the enormous Great Oak Stage. As the sun beamed down, the crowd erupted as band members took their position on stage and the superstar took her position, centerstage to offer the appropriate opener, Hello.
It’s been 5 long years since fans have been able to see the now U.S residing Brit perform a live show outside of her recent television specials promoting new album, 30 but patience was rewarded with an absolutely stellar set of tracks that felt more like a greatest hits setlist than one to promote any new material. As Hello bellowed across the enormous crowd of some 65,000+ ticket holding fans, it was very evident that the crooning superstar was truly back, and in peak form as her vocals swept across the park with an ease and force that could only be delivered by a vocalist of Adele’s caliber; her theatrical facial expressions showing off a confident artist who sees performing in a venue like Hyde Park all just in a day’s work but insisting on giving every single number 100% for her fans.
“It’s so strange to be back in front of a crowd again” Adele would declare during the opening few numbers of the set, drawing attention of her repeated absence from the stage as she performed mostly sombre numbers from her catalogue – though expected from an artist who has made heartbreak-soaked balladry her staple.
Dressed in a stunning black gown and eye catching earrings and beehive style hair, the singer looked every bit the Hollywood part – a far cry from her Tottenham upbringing but while appearances may give the assumption of an artist who has sold herself out to the Hollywood lifestyle, her regular banter between tracks remind us that she is still a Londoner at heart; often stopping herself mid-song to look out for punters needed help from security or front row fans in obvious need of water – the most moving moment being a delayed start to her Oscar winning Bond track, Skyfall – stopping the band to alter security of a young fan needing assistance. While the banter took up time where she could has easily delivered a performance of early hit, Chasing Pavements – the obvious repertoire hit not present in the set, it allowed us to see a superstar with heart and attentiveness to those that have helped get her to where she is today.
Confessing to not owning too many upbeat numbers, there were plenty of moments that allowed us to shake our hips. Send My Love (To Your New Lover) and Water Under The Bridge from 2015’s 25 were delivered early in the set and had the crowd singing out to the superstars effortless, flowing vocals. While the crowd swaying along with arms in the air to new album lead single Easy On You – the tracks first appearance in a convert setting – fellow 30 standout Oh My God sat confidently amongst a ballad drenched set and was one of the highlight performances of the night with its punchy rhythm and catchy chorus but it was 21’s track listing that really shone during the evenings 2 hour long set of 18 numbers.
While there were few stage eccentricities – as one would expect on a big show like these, or really any pop event these days (with the exception of some pyrotechnics used during her performance of Set Fire To The Rain), her voice was the showcase of the night and made up for any theatrics that could have perhaps taken focus away from the talent and allowed tracks like the Gospel-infused Rumour Has It to truly shine but it was the toe-tapping Rolling In The Deep and power ballad, and career changing hit Someone Like You that showcased the evident natural vocal and song-writing talents of this Tottenham-raised megastar of music.
Heading along to the show yesterday we knew that we would be walking way at the end of the night with a satisfied grin on our faces, but as we exited the Hyde Park grounds with floods of fans still singing the chorus of Someone Like You, it was clear that we had witnessed the return of one of music’s most celebrated, awarded, gifted and transformative artists – an artist that is truly back in top form and with clear purpose and passion.
I Drink Wine
I’ll Be Waiting
Rumour Has It
Water Under the Bridge
One and Only
Send My Love (To Your New Lover)
Easy on Me
All I Ask
Make You Feel My Love (Bob Dylan cover)
Someone Like You
Oh My God
Set Fire to the Rain
Rolling in the Deep
When We Were Young
Love Is a Game
::: RenownedForSound.com’s Editor and Founder –
Interviewing and reviewing the best in new music and globally recognized artists is his passion.
Over the years he has been lucky enough to review thousands of music releases and concerts and interview artists ranging from top selling superstars like 27-time Grammy Award winner Alison Krauss, Boyz II Men, Roxette, Cyndi Lauper, Lisa Loeb and iconic Eagles front man/songwriter, Glenn Frey through to more recent successes including Newton Faulkner, Janelle Monae and Caro Emerald.
Brendon manages and coordinates the amazing team of writers on RenownedForSound.com who are based in the UK, the U.S and Australia.