Adele made her first TV promotional stop on Sunday night (Nov. 14) for the CBS special Adele: One Night Only in support of her forthcoming 30 album, due this Friday (Nov. 19). The special featured 10 performances, including four songs from 30, as well as a sit-down interview with Oprah Winfrey.
Her first televised concert since 2015’s Adele: Live in New York City, the special marked the return of one of music’s most beloved talents, as evidenced by the seemingly endless roster of celebrity guests, incredible new music and deeply personal revelations. Here are the seven best moments of last night’s special:
Filmed at the famed Griffith Observatory in Los Angeles, One Night Only was a visually stunning showcase. The pristine eggshell white of the curved benches and the columns behind the evoked a sense of regality that was offset by the warmth of the talent onstage. Lively background singers, a fiery string section and a bevy of other musicians joined Adele on the broad stage. While Adele shows are typically focused on stationary belting and lively onstage banter (more on that later), the Griffith Observatory proved the perfect backdrop for a series of video projections that enhanced the setting.
Baby photos flashed during “When We Were Young,” further intensifying the intimacy that Adele’s presence created in the spacious venue. Best of all, the iconic Hollywood sign sits near the Observatory, a helpful reminder that one of the biggest stars of our time is really back.
The Celebrity Guests
Stars attract stars, and it felt like the entire solar system showed up for Adele’s comeback performance. Drake, Selena Gomez, Tracee Ellis Ross, Melissa McCarthy, Lizzo, Gordon Ramsey, Ellen DeGeneres, Tyler Perry, Ava DuVernay, Gayle King, Dwayne Wade, Gabrielle Union, Childish Gambino, Seth Rogen, Leonardo DiCaprio and more stars graced the Griffith for the night of live music and a preview of Adele’s fourth full-length. It’s truly a testament to Adele’s ability to curate an atmosphere of vulnerability that the combined magnitude of these celebrities didn’t overshadow the true purpose of the night.
The 30 Previews
Adele treated us to four performances of tracks from her highly-anticipated 30 album. The first live performance of the single “Easy On Me” — which has reigned atop the Billboard Hot 100 for four consecutive weeks — was as enchanting as expected. Adele also debuted the second single from the album, “I Drink Wine,” a wistful ballad with heartbreaking lyrics of self-deprecation. The final two previews, “Hold On” and “Love Is A Game,” were absolute showstoppers. The former is a soaring anthem of hope that slightly ups Adele’s typical tempo, and the latter is a dramatic rumination on the trials of love that already feels timeless.
Adele wore a gorgeous custom black Schiaparelli number for the special. During the concert, she joked that the dress reminded her of the 1992 Meryl Streep/Goldie Hawn comedy Death Becomes Her, and it was equally entertaining watching her try to walk around in the gown.
Oprah interviewed Adele in her Rose Garden, and for those segments the singer donned a white custom Christopher John Roger pantsuit, complete with Louboutin heels and Swarovski crystal details and stunning custom Schiaparelli Saturn earrings. The Saturn Return — the time when Saturn completes its 30-year trek to the same place it was when you were born — has been the major theme for the 30 press run. From the album’s title to the custom earrings, venue choice and new Saturn tattoo, Adele is clearly all about thematic continuity on this go-round.
That Epic Proposal
It wouldn’t be an Oprah interview if some pages weren’t pulled from The Oprah Winfrey Show handbook. During Adele’s set, right before her heart-melting rendition of “Make You Feel My Love,” a young man by the name of Quentin proposed to his longtime girlfriend Ashley, and she said yes. Ashley’s shellshocked reaction and the overall incredible display of love was a sweet moment during the telecast.
So much of 30 is informed by Adele’s own divorce and her troubled relationship with love. To balance out some of that heaviness with a proposal was a smart choice. What’s more, the proposal added a much-welcome element of surprise to an event that had a very predictable format.
Hilarious Onstage Banter
Adele may not have crazy pyrotechnics or heavy choreography, but she does have a knack for uproarious onstage banter. Her effervescent personality and sheer gratefulness for being able to perform live again illuminated the observatory. Whether she was shouting out Lizzo and praising her dress, or fawning over the fact that this is the first time that her nine-year-old son Angelo is seeing her perform, every time Adele spoke it was just as captivating as when she sang. Her best onstage banter moment, however, had to be the cackle that she let out after spotting Ashley’s still-stunned expression during “Make You Feel My Love.”
Getting Deep With Oprah
Adele: One Night Only was a concert-interview hybrid that helped catch audiences up to speed on Adele’s past six years and contextualized performances of both new and old material. Oprah is known for her vulnerable Rose Garden interviews, and her moments with Adele were both revelatory and inspiring. During one conversation about her struggle with the concept of the nuclear family, Adele said, “I’m just embarrassed that I didn’t make my marriage work.” This level of frankness is fairly uncommon in interviews of this magnitude, but not everyone is as honest as Adele.
When Oprah inquired about her thoughts on the response to her weight loss, Adele mused, “It’s not my job to validate how anyone feels about their body.” As a woman whose body has been politicized and objectified for as long as she’s been in the public eye, Adele’s remarkable grasp of nuance served her well during this answer and throughout the interview. It’s not often that we get to hear Adele open up outside of her music, but when she does it’s truly something special.