The Colosseum at Caesar’s Palace in Las Vegas is a place built for votes. It was created almost 20 years ago specifically for one of the original pop divas, Celine Dion – its soaring mezzanines and floor-to-ceiling projection screens were designed for her powerful performances. And it was this intent that finally convinced Adele, the record-breaking, Grammy- and Oscar-winning British pop icon, to make it the setting for her five-month residency Weekends with Adele.
We know this because she told the crowd last Friday during the show’s debut. Between booming renditions of hits like “Hello” and “Easy On Me,” she seemed visibly emotional about performing in front of a crowd of her staunchest supporters. “Thank you for coming back to me,” she told the audience after she finished her first song, citing the one-year delay in the residency’s launch. “Canceling this show a year ago was the hardest decision I’ve ever made — but it was also the best.”
To describe the performance as “worth the wait” is an understatement. Adele is not an artist who tours often, let alone releases music regularly. The gap between their latest record, 30and her previous album, 25She was six full years old.
She takes her time because she wants to perfect every element of the experience – the music, the lyrics, the visuals, the performance. Attention to detail was evident during production: Polaroid-shaped confetti, simultaneous rain and fire on stage, and even a Vegas-appropriate disappearance act for the concert’s finale were all incorporated into the two-hour show.
But at the end of the day, all she really needs is a piano and people would still pay for it. Her voice could fill any stadium in the world, but as she explained during the concert, that’s not what she wants for herself and her fans. She’d rather be sitting on the edge of the stage (preferably in a custom Schiaparelli dress and Lorraine Schwartz diamonds) taking a selfie with a fan, or wading through the crowd asking people where they’re from, or hugging a drag queen who is dressed in her image. “I could not be with all of you like if we were in a stadium,” she explained.
It’s a rarity to see someone of Adele’s level so emotionally vulnerable and available to fans, especially in Las Vegas of all places. (Though it comes at a price, of course; resale tickets go up to $20,000 for a front-row seat.) Though we’ve seen a number of A-list acts — the Britneys, the Gagas, and the Janets of the world — Gamble in Vegas, Adele’s new residence feels particularly upscale. Las Vegas can be an odd place (period), but it’s also always geared for luxury, and what’s more luxurious than a nearly impossible-to-buy place to hear one of our generation’s most revered voices?
Caesar’s is aware of the high-roller clientele attracted to Adele, and the company has revamped its flagship resort accordingly over the past two years. Discreet, tucked-away villas indoors (which have already hosted Leonardo DiCaprio and Lizzo) have large private pools, 24/7 chef services, and state-of-the-art theater spaces, while new hospitality additions like Amalfi by Bobby Flay and Nobu, longtime favorite sushi Spot of celebrities, attract high profile foodies.
It’s enough to make you wonder if Las Vegas is entering a new era of luxury. Rather than being a farewell place for artists of yesteryear, the city now regularly offers its fans the chance to meet up with their favorite acts in more intimate settings – and the bigger the star, the more special the experience. Weekends with Adele offers an opportunity to see a formidable pop star at her peak and builds anticipation for what comes after for her and her for Vegas.
Bianca Betancourt is the culture editor at HarpersBAZAAR.com, where she covers everything about film, television, music and more. When she’s not writing, she loves impulsively baking cookies, listening to the same pop playlist from the early 2000s, and following Mariah Carey’s Twitter feed.