Sydney

Adele @ ANZ Stadium 10.3.17

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She had them at ‘Hello’.

4/5 stars

They came with spouses, with boyfriends, with grandmas. They came in families, alone, with children, and friends. They came skipping and running and limping and strolling.

And they came in hordes.

Although there were many (no doubt willing) husbands in tow, it was clear that on Friday night Adele was providing the ultimate girls’ night out for a large chunk of Sydney’s female population. (And those who weren’t there, were probably Justin Bieber fans broke from buying tickets to his upcoming concert in the very same stadium)

While the gender sway was obvious, the median age was a little harder to pick – but the fact that over half the audience burst into song only when The Turtles’ Happy Together (not Gomez, Bieber and co.) was piped into the arena pre-show, indicated a strong Baby Boomer presence. Regardless of age or sex they were ready to party, and in the case of many, with tipsy abandon.

Still, that’s what Adele does, isn’t it? She gives us permission to simply be ourselves – whether that’s to contribute our soulful howls to Someone Like You (“My songs are pretty miserable, I know” she concedes with a laugh), or throw our hands in the air to I’ll Be Waiting (“I know they’re telling you to sit down, but don’t listen to them!”).

ANZ Stadium engulfs 95 000 people with ease, but all that changes the instant Adele opens her mouth. There is no other voice that could so effortlessly fill, overwhelm and utterly own that cavernous stadium, yet at the same time – here’s the crazy part – sound as intimate as a bar gig.

Perhaps it’s because Adele’s modus operandi is bizarrely earthy for one so revered. Defiantly behaving as normally as possible in the face of extraordinary fame and adoration, she shares genuinely funny anecdotes with 95 000 people as though we’d bumped into her at the supermarket check-out queue. There are plenty of artists who (credit to them) try to reach out to their audience with easy familiarity. Adele just does it.

How? We’ll probably never know. At least, not while we’re swaying to When We Were Young, hollering Send My Love To Your New Lo-ov-er, and sitting amidst a twinkling stadium during Bob Dylan cover Make You Feel My Love.

If the crazy part was that this mammoth concert felt intimate, the crazier (though less surprising) part is exactly how good Adele sounds live. She may have warned us that “sometimes I burp” in the key change of Don’t You Remember; she may have been on the verge of tears as she stopped the concert to check on an unwell audience member; she may also have almost fallen down her own (“f***in'”) stairs and walked around 7000 steps as she made her rounds of the circular stage; but delivery after powerhouse delivery made it very clear that no studio can truly capture the magic that is Adele.

Of course, Adele is not a stadium performer – she told us so herself – but that is most likely because she has little use for fireworks, streamers and balloons (all of which we got just the same). Her voice trumps the lot. At the end of the night it is not the stadium show we have paid for, no mere spectacle; it is the privilege of being in the same space as that magnificent voice, paired with uncanny relatability. And that was worth every damn cent.

DAN SULTAN @ The Metro 11.7.14

Even with a severe case of Man Flu, the Sultan of swagger still managed to put on a rockin’ good show.

Dan Sultan: A little huskier than usual at The Metro last night, but still putting in 100%.

Minutes after walking onto The Metro stage to a solid wave of whoops and cheers, and blasting through Blackbird album-opener Make Me Slip, it looked like Dan Sultan mightn’t last the night. 

“I’ve gotta be honest with you…I’m sick as a f—ing dog” Sultan confessed early in the set, obviously disappointed with his physical condition. Numerous offers of fatherhood, shouted out – mainly – by those audience members in possession of ovaries, confirmed his fans did not share the same disappointment. They were here to support a guy whose music they love, and if he was feeling under the weather that just meant they were going to “cheer” him up in a very literal sense.

Sultan’s crowd is an eclectic bunch, consisting of hipster fortysomethings and happy-go-party young ‘uns with a beverage in each hand. They mingled happily, dancing and whooping to the catchy rock riffs and egging on every little groin-thrust and hair-flick from the man they had paid to see. The adoration was not wasted on Sultan, who stopped mid-set to thank this particular crowd for being “inspiring”. He doesn’t let it go to his head though. “You’re so hot Dan!” screamed one enthusiastic fan, to which Sultan quipped “I’m hot? Of course I’m f—ing hot – I’m under all these lights!”.

Warming (perhaps literally) to the support of his audience and the high-energy material, Sultan didn’t let his virus-riddled state interfere with the rock n’ roll we’d been promised. He coughed a little, chugged some water, then proceeded to sing like a man who had little concern for his vocal chords (or the fact that he has twelve more gigs lined up for the Blackbird tour). Throwing in extra guitar pyrotechnics when his voice needed a rest, by the time Sultan closed a three-song encore with the exhilarating Kimberley Callingwe’d almost forgotten we owed this gig to cold-and-flu meds.

The set list was clearly designed to promote Sultan’s new album Blackbird, and the crowd was duly pleased with brand new rockers like Ain’t Thinking About You and The Same Man. Popular 2013 single Under Your Skin sparked a raucous crowd singalong, but when Sultan pulled a few from the archives Old Fitzroy sparked renewed cheering and flailing limbs all across the dance floor. It was clear last night’s crowd had been with Sultan for a while.

Evidently both thrilled and relieved to be writing again, Dan paused to reflect on the purpose of this tour – his new album. “It’s been a while between records, friends” he sighed, curiously vulnerable for a moment (his last full-length release was 2009’s Get Out While You Can), but the ensuing cheers promised a warm welcome for the new material. Indeed, Blackbird is proof that we should be thrilled and relieved Dan’s writing again too. 3.5/5

Dan Sultan’s third studio album Blackbird is out now, through Liberation Records.