Adele is finally ready to talk about one of the most challenging periods in her public life.
In a cover story for the September issue of ELLE magazine, Adele points to the morning of Jan. 20 as the “worst moment in my career, by far,” reliving the tear-stained video she posted on Instagram that morning informing her fans that she was canceling her anticipated Las Vegas residency at the Colosseum at Caesars Palace. At the time, information about what caused the abrupt cancellation just one day before the series was set to launch was scarce.
And in the five months since, Adele has not spoken publicly at length about the decision, but assures fans in the ELLE piece, “By far. I was so excited about those shows. It was devastating.” She shares that she had been up for more than 30 hours in the lead-up to the decision, “tormenting herself” over a choice that had been in the works for a week.
Though the Omicron surge of COVID-19 then raging had whittled down her team, they’d accomplished more with less before, but with months of rehearsals behind them, the livelihoods of her band and piles of money invested in the show up until that point, as well as the thousands of ticketholders who had made elaborate plans to join her in Vegas, the singer was “terrified” of letting them down.
“There was just no soul in it,” she said of the Weekends With Adele production that just didn’t feel right to her, originally slated to kick off on Jan. 21. At the time Adele chalked the cancellation up to production delays caused by COVID. “The stage setup wasn’t right. It was very disconnected from me and my band, and it lacked intimacy. And maybe I tried too hard to give it those things in such a controlled environment.”
For the first few months after the announcement, Adele said things were “really, really hard” because she was “embarrassed.” But then her confidence grew because she felt that it was “a very brave thing to do. And I don’t think many people would have done what I did. I’m very proud of myself for standing by my artistic needs.”
That mean essentially hitting the brakes on promoting her 30 album, fearing that continuing to do press and perform other concerts might make it seem like she didn’t care about the cancellation. “I didn’t want anyone to think I weren’t trying my best,” she said, noting that there is at least one unreleased music video from the album out there that we haven’t seen yet. “And I was.”
The scope of the initial Colosseum stage was appropriately massive, with a proscenium that was reportedly 120 feet wide — nearly half the length of a football field — and a water element that “looked great for a couple of songs, and then didn’t do anything. It was just there.”
The piece describes Adele, 34, getting so frustrating during a dress rehearsal the night before she announced the cancellation that she walked to the end of the 15,700-square-foot stage and sat down during the first song, pulled her mic away and began singing a cappella to the mostly empty 4,300-seat room. Even with no amplification, she said, “they could hear me up at the top.”
“This would be the best part of the show,” she remembered thinking of the intimacy and unpretentiousness of playing the modest room in a career that has seen her filling arenas and stadiums around the world. “For me, and for you. This is what I want,” she added while picturing a small audience in front of her. “And none of that—” she gestures as if to conjure a glitzy Vegas stage with all the bells and whistles you’d expect, “has that.”
It was a turning point for an artist who has always carved her own path when it comes to releasing music, touring, engaging with fans and going dark when she is not promoting new music. “With her, everything’s about authenticity,” explained Jonathan Dickins, who’s been her manager since she was 18. “For her to go out and perform a show she’s not happy with would be a lie to the fans.”
The story describes an artist with the kind posh life you’d expect after Adele’s startling level of success — jetting to New York to join boyfriend sports agent Rich Paul at the wedding of Cleveland Cavs forward Kevin Love, then returning to London to take her 9-year-old son Angelo to see Billie Eilish at the O2.
The Vegas residency was revived after Adele tapped British entertainment architecture firm Stufish to help her deign the stage for her BRIT Awards appearance earlier this year, inspired by the theme of Angelo’s fifth birthday party, which the singer designed herself. She describes going down to craft store Michaels and buying a bunch of sequins she nailed to a board for a makeshift photo booth backdrop with Stufish’s take on it so stunning she hired them to work on the Vegas 2.0 version.
She describes sketching out a “tiered stone” set that she hopes will make the “stadium-size stage feel small in that room,” landing on what is described as a “puppet stage” inspired by the mantle above her fireplace. “I want to tell the story of the beginning of my career to now. I’m not gonna give too much about it, but the show grows,” she said of the new stage adapted from her sketch. “The show grows. It’s all about the music, and it’s really, really nostalgic. It’s gonna be really beautiful.” The re-scheduled 24-show run is slated to kick off on Nov. 14 and will now included 8 additional dates.
The cover story also touches on Adele’s love match with Paul. “I’ve never been in love like this. I’m obsessed with him,” she said of the agent she met several years ago who became a romantic interest in 2021 following the singer’s divorce from Angelo’s father. Asked if she wants to marry again, the singer said, “Yes, absolutely” but then gave a “cheeky” non-answer to a query about whether the pair are engaged. “Well! Well. Well, I’m not married,” she said, laughing. “I’m not married!… I’m just in loooove! I’m happy as I’ll ever be. I might as well be married… but right now, All I got in my brain is Vegas. I wanna f—ing nail it.”
Check out the coves of the UK and U.S. versions of the story below.
ELLE UK pic.twitter.com/hXbuMIHkAB
— Adele (@Adele) August 15, 2022
ELLE US pic.twitter.com/7q90SoBfpT
— Adele (@Adele) August 15, 2022