Minutes before Adele’s sold-out concert in Miami Tuesday night, a phalanx of motorcycle police took up positions on the north side of AmericanAirlines Arena as a line of black SUVs zoomed behind them, carrying not a running-late pop star with hits such as “Rumor Has It” and “Rolling in the Deep,” but the person who is running to be the country’s first female president.
Meanwhile, inside the arena, the mood was certainly “with her” during an evening distinguished by mass displays of deep affection not only for Adele and her lonely-heart anthems but among women in the audience for one another. The night of arm-in-arm sing-alongs, selfies, hugs and dancing offered evocative evidence of the special bond that female friends have for one another and the singer’s admirable ability to create a warm, sincere environment that encouraged it.
In front of an audience that included almost-birthday girl Hillary Clinton (69 on Wednesday), Adele was a doll Tuesday night -- the kind with the string in the back. From her first “Hello” to the moment confetti billowed over the concert-closing exclamation point “Rolling in the Deep” precisely two hours later, Adele was an unapologetic chatterbox, a tactic she uses to defeat stage fright, she said.
Describing her show, with a wink, as “two hours of misery … about me and my ex-boyfriend,” there was running commentary about her drinking habits (“I’m not a one-glass-of-wine kind of gal”), the toll of pregnancy (her son's now 4) and the size of her posterior.
Everyone she could see from the stage looked “beautiful.” Others got a wave and a “Hello, I see you!,” including one girl with a sign in the far upper deck. Three men were brought onstage for random hugs, and the singer led the audience in “Happy Birthday” for another fan.
“I will talk a lot,” she said in a warning greeted by applause. “Oh, you cheer now, but later you will be booing.”
Dressed in a sparkling, black, floor-length gown, Adele, her era-defining voice and infectious personality were the show. There were no floating stages, no costume changes, no dancers, and the video accompaniment that played out on massive projection screens near the main stage consisted mostly of shots of Adele in sophisticated black and white.
The 28-year-old singer, a mug of tea and honey nearby, worked a small, black stage in front of a large, tiered space that held her excellent 20-piece band, which included eight string players, four horns, guitars, drums, keyboards and a strong trio of backup singers. She also did a few songs on a second small platform on the other side of the floor, reached by a narrow path through the crowd that she navigated without much fuss.
The 10-time Grammy winner performed 17 songs, including her nine Top 40 singles, showing off a clear, powerful voice, in particular, on beautifully soulful versions of “Someone Like You” and “When We Were Young,” and the upbeat “Send My Love (to Your New Lover).”
One of the more memorable moments came with Adele accompanied by a small acoustic group on her heartfelt version of Bob Dylan’s “Make You Feel My Love.” In dedicating the performance to victims of the Pulse nightclub shooting in Orlando, Adele called it “the most kind and patient love song I've ever heard.”
Adele’s instinct is for a light touch, and most songs on the evening inspired a story or a random aside delivered in layers of humorous self-deprecation. The intended impression seemed to be that no matter how many platinum records and millions of dollars she may have, in many ways she’s just like you and your girlfriends.
“I’m standing here like I’m not surrounded by 20,000 people,” Adele said in introducing “Chasing Pavements.” “I’m just a girl from North London, and it does blow my mind.”
What else did we learn about Adele?
She is not afraid to employ strategic use of the F-bomb, as she did early on in railing against the faulty credit-card scanners at the arena entrance that caused long lines of fans trying to get in. To their credit, all were remarkably well-behaved. To her credit, Adele delayed her 7:30 p.m. performance nearly an hour until the arena seemed at near capacity.
She’s been in Miami for five days in advance of her concerts Tuesday and Wednesday, and one of her first stops was C.Madeleine's vintage shop in North Miami Beach.
Adele keeps the Academy Award she won (with songwriter Paul Epworth) for the theme to the James Bond film “Skyfall” in her bathroom, an odd British tradition, she says. “So when I go for my morning wee, I see an Oscar,” she says.
Her British accent has magical properties: In her appreciative reply when one local fan shouted his hometown, the words “Coconut Creek” in her mouth never sounded more exotic and sexy.
American politics are important to her, though she’s happy to not face the stress of the election. “I wouldn't know what to do. Well, I do know what to do: Don't vote for him,” she said to a cascade of cheers.
Somewhere, Clinton gave someone a hug.
IF YOU GO
Adele performs 7:30 p.m. Wednesday, Oct. 26, at AmericanAirlines Arena, 601 Biscayne Blvd., in Miami. Tickets cost $36.95-$146.50 at Ticketmaster.com.