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‘The show must go on’ is the cardinal rule of showbusiness; its first and only commandment.
And yet Adele, whose record-breaking singing career is a global phenomenon, was today waking up to a huge backlash after deciding that she ‘wasn’t ready’ for a megabucks series of concerts in Las Vegas.
Fans, many of whom had paid up to £9,000 for resold tickets and had already travelled long distances for the opening night, were left angry and out of pocket when Adele opted to pull the plug at the 11th hour from the string of concerts that would have netted her £500,000 a show.
Gillian Rowland-Kain, 32, was already on her flight to Las Vegas from New York with her twin sister when she found out about the cancellation via social media.
The attorney from Brooklyn said: ‘I was furious that Adele waited so last minute to make this call.
I recognise it’s not a call any artist wants to make but she would’ve known yesterday that the show wouldn’t be ready by tomorrow.
‘Her lack of notice is astounding. I’m angry and frustrated.’
Adele, whose record-breaking singing career is a global phenomenon, was today waking up to a huge backlash after deciding that she ‘wasn’t ready’ for a megabucks series of concerts in Las Vegas. Visibly distressed, Adele posted a video on social media on Thursday night by way of explanation. It was filmed in the £30,000-a-night penthouse suite at Caesars Palace where she is holed up with her management team and her boyfriend, the American sports agent Rich Paul, 40
‘I can’t give you what I have right now,’ said the star, 33, who is already renowned in the music world for a perfectionism which verges on artistic intransigence. ‘It just ain’t ready’
The show was meant to run on Friday and Saturday nights from now until April. The explanation given was that Covid had derailed the production
Another disappointed fan wrote online: ‘I know how hard it is to put on a show, especially in a pandemic. But it’s also hard to save enough money, to get time off work from a hospital that is short-staffed, book a flight and hotel, fly in two days early and find out 30 hours before the show that the reason we came for is not going to happen.’
One British fan called David posted a photo from outside the Caesars Palace venue just after the shows were axed.
He tweeted: ‘Christmas gift gone pear-shaped as my wife and daughter are on the way to meet me in Vegas and unfortunately Adele has had to cancel.’
Fans were left angry and out of pocket when Adele opted to pull the plug at the 11th hour from the string of concerts that would have netted her £500,000 a show
Visibly distressed, Adele posted a video on social media on Thursday night by way of explanation.
It was filmed in the £30,000-a-night penthouse suite at Caesars Palace where she is holed up with her management team and her boyfriend, the American sports agent Rich Paul, 40.
‘I can’t give you what I have right now,’ said the star, 33, who is already renowned in the music world for a perfectionism which verges on artistic intransigence. ‘It just ain’t ready.’
The show was meant to run on Friday and Saturday nights from now until April. The explanation given was that Covid had derailed the production.
Adele said that ‘half’ her crew and team were off with the virus, which is indeed at the peak of a surge in Nevada.
Adele said that ‘half’ her crew and team were off with the virus, which is indeed at the peak of a surge in Nevada. Vegas journalist Scott Roeben, who works for the news site casino.org and who broke news of the residency last year, said: ‘It’s a mess and she is clearly upset by having to do this. All shows in Vegas are a mess right now, many performers and crew are out’
‘We’ve tried absolutely everything we can to put it together in time and for it to be good enough for you, but we’ve been absolutely destroyed by delivery delays and Covid,’ she said.
‘Half my crew and team are [ill] with Covid and still are, and it’s been impossible to finish the show. I’m gutted — I’m sorry it’s so last minute, we’ve been awake for over 30 hours trying to figure it out and we’ve run out of time.
‘I’m so upset and I’m really embarrassed and so sorry to everyone that travelled. I’m really, really sorry.’
Vegas journalist Scott Roeben, who works for the news site casino.org and who broke news of the residency last year, said: ‘It’s a mess and she is clearly upset by having to do this. All shows in Vegas are a mess right now, many performers and crew are out.
‘The supply disruption is real as well. I think she looked really distraught and sleep-deprived, so she obviously didn’t make the decision lightly.’
He added: ‘One thing I’d say is a reliable source shared the possibility of a delay several weeks ago. While the decision may have been sudden, the concerns were there for a while. I don’t think it was ticket sales, although that’s the suspicion with some other artists.’
Not everyone is so understanding. An industry veteran with decades of experience countered: ‘I could not believe the news. ‘The show must go on’ is the first thing you learn in the business. End of. Artists simply do not pull out or cancel.
‘Look at the Rolling Stones. They have performed for 50 years and only postponed twice in all that time. Once when Mick Jagger’s partner L’Wren Scott committed suicide and once when he had to have heart surgery.
‘Otherwise, on you go – even when Charlie Watts died.’
He adds: ‘Adele is a perfectionist and she has form in this area. She has cancelled shows before – she cancelled two shows in London in 2017 which she said she would reschedule and she never did.’
The insider was referring to two hometown gigs axed after the star damaged her vocal cords.
From the start of this year, rumblings had begun to circulate in Vegas. Specifically, it was said that Adele wasn’t keen on any spectacular staging. She wanted it to be ‘all about the voice’. Perhaps it was a sign of building anxiety.
For despite this, the show was to be filled with production effects and dozens of musicians and singers. A choir of 60 singers was auditioned in early January and contracted to participate in a Skyfall opening number.
Caesars Palace embarked on a complete overhaul of the dressing room originally created for Celine Dion – leading many to be convinced that Adele was in it for the long haul.
Many in Vegas believed that the plan was for her to keep on with the residency until 2024, potentially netting her up to £100million – £50million from performance fees and the rest from merchandising.
However gossip columnist Roger Friedman was convinced something was awry by January 18.
For although the shows sold out instantly online during the pre-sales period and many tickets have since been sold again at inflated prices, Friedman noted there were still hundreds of tickets available on a resale website at around £400 each, and prices were said to be dropping.
Yesterday he wrote: ‘The whole Adele Vegas residency is a disaster. But ‘We ain’t ready’ at the last minute doesn’t hold water. This isn’t the Rolling Stones stage show.
‘Adele live is her, an orchestra and some lighting. She’s not sailing across the theatre in a hook-up, there are no pyrotechnics.
‘Plus, let’s face it… this is only two shows per weekend. If the show wasn’t ready, it could be postponed a couple of weeks, and the missed shows could have been rescheduled at the end of the run.
‘But they’ve scrapped the whole thing… so it’s not just a matter of not being ready… doesn’t make sense.’
He added: ‘Las Vegas is full of talented musicians. If one is sick, there are replacements.’
Caesars Palace is closing ranks, and staffers have been warned that they will be dismissed if they speak to the media.
Adele spoke of ‘constant panicking on stage, my heart feels like it’s going to explode because I never feel like I’m going to deliver, ever’ and added: ‘It’s actually getting worse.’ I’m told she was ‘in a panic’ before filming the Audience With show (above) for ITV in October last year
In a statement they said: ‘We understand the disappointment surrounding the postponement of Weekends With Adele. Adele is an incredible artist, supremely dedicated to her music and her fans. Creating a show of this magnitude is incredibly complex.
‘We fully support Adele and are confident the show she unveils at The Colosseum at Caesars Palace will be extraordinary.’
Oddly, no mention was made of Covid.
Another source with a foot in Adele’s camp says that while there is no doubt that Covid has caused issues, there is bound to be speculation about whether her concerns over performing live were an additional factor in the decision.
While she promised on Twitter: ‘All dates will be rescheduled. More info coming soon’, she has made no secret of the fact that she hates touring and suffers from crippling stage fright.
She told one TV interviewer that live performances have her searching for the door: ‘I’m scared of audiences. One show in Amsterdam, I was so nervous I escaped out the fire exit. I’ve thrown up a couple of times. Once in Brussels, I projectile vomited on someone. I just gotta bear it. But I don’t like touring. I have anxiety attacks a lot.’
She spoke of ‘constant panicking on stage, my heart feels like it’s going to explode because I never feel like I’m going to deliver, ever’ and added: ‘It’s actually getting worse.’
I’m told she was ‘in a panic’ before filming the Audience With show for ITV in October last year.
‘She was freaking out in the dressing room, and this was for an invited audience of friends. The atmosphere was horribly tense,’ says one of the guests.
‘Ben Winston was producing the show and he actually looked as if he was going to be sick from the stress of it.’ The problem was that Adele was ‘nervous’. She also had to twice restart her songs after flubbing the melody, appearing ‘unconfident’ of her voice.
The source adds: ‘Nobody cancels the day before. You have more than 24 hours’ notice of Covid problems. I hear that Adele never wanted to do the Vegas shows in the first place.
‘I very much doubt that they will be rescheduled; I don’t think she’s up to performing at this level for this amount of dates.
In 2017, during a concert in New Zealand (above), Adele said: ‘Touring isn’t something I’m good at – applause makes me feel a bit vulnerable. I don’t know if I will ever tour again’
‘She is a perfectionist and you can see that in the way she puts her albums back and back until she is happy with them. But more than that she is a recording artist and not a performer and she should never have agreed to these shows in the first place.
‘She suffers really badly from stage fright, she hates being on the stage. For her to commit to going on stage every weekend for three months is madness. The point was always going to come when she would decide she wasn’t going to do it.’
In 2017, during a concert in New Zealand, Adele said: ‘Touring isn’t something I’m good at – applause makes me feel a bit vulnerable. I don’t know if I will ever tour again.’
She has twice pulled out of US tours. Once in 2008, when she was barely known, citing ‘personal family reasons’. In 2011, she twice pulled out of tours in America, once with laryngitis and then because she had suffered a vocal haemorrhage.
In 2016, she cancelled a concert in Arizona on account of illness. Choir master Gareth Malone insists that Adele’s vocal technique makes her unsuited for singing on stage.
He said: ‘The way she sings is just very bad for the voice. She lets in too much air which irritates the throat and the vocal cords and she pushes her voice with too much force.
‘It gives it emotion but it’s a style of singing that can only work in a recording studio. If you go out and try and perform like that on a tour then you are going to end up in trouble.’
So why go through the agony? Worth an estimated £150million, it’s not as though she needs the money.
As far back as last summer, rumours began to swirl that Adele was interested in a Vegas residency in order to promote her new studio album, 30.
In October, just as she released her first single from 30, Easy On Me, Billboard magazine reported she was finalising plans for a Vegas residency.
However, it also noted that no ‘holds’ had been placed on any arenas or stadiums in North America for a potential tour, meaning that Adele and her management were not seriously entertaining the idea of a tour at that point.
But in an interview with Rolling Stone, Adele denied the story. ‘There’s nothing f***ing available,’ she said.
She added that the pandemic made planning impossible. ‘It’s too unpredictable, with all the rules and stuff. I don’t want anyone coming to my show scared. And I don’t want to get Covid, either.’
Soon afterwards she announced that she would play two British Summer Time concerts in Hyde Park.
On November 30, she announced her residency in Las Vegas. Sources indicate that negotiations – although swift – were not straightforward.
Mr Roeben said: ‘Rival hotel Resorts World thought they had her first. They were sure that they could meet her requirements and I heard from someone who was personally involved that they had started to build production elements and were looking at the pyrotechnics.
‘I guess it was a handshake deal which they believed in and then didn’t happen. I heard there was concern from Adele that it would be a new theatre and she would be the first in it.’ (The mega-hotel opened in June 2021.)
Caesars Palace sweetened the deal by putting their private plane at her disposal – Vegas is just a 45-minute flight from Los Angeles where she lives with son Angelo, nine – and the idea was that she would use it to shuttle back home.
An added appeal, no doubt, was the fact that her idol Celine Dion launched The Colosseum at Caesars Palace in 2003.
The venue was built for Celine, and Adele took best pal, comedian Alan Carr, to see her there during her second residency, when Dion made 70 performances between 2011 and 2019.
It’s probably the most important venue in Vegas and has hosted Elton John, Bette Midler, Cher and Mariah Carey.
Will Adele join the hall of greats? Only time will tell.
Additional reporting: Barbara McMahon