For avid music fans, the greatest pleasure is getting into the brains of our favorite musicians. We relish the possibility of stealing five minutes of time from a music legend. Perhaps over a beer and a cigarette, we hope to discover the secrets of the magicians who make the magic. Unfortunately it’s an experience that usually ends in disappointment because, let’s face it, for all their God-given talents they are all just as human as we are. Hell, even the Dali Lama couldn’t live up to the standards we place on our musical heroes.
For fans, the music created and/or performed by our favorite artist is the point that our peek into their souls should begin and most likely end, but, of course, not before that idea has been completely exhausted. PBS takes us to the edge of that experience with the British soul superstar Adele in the exceptional televised live music performance series “The Artist Den”.
Adele holds down the first episode of the fourth season performing a stripped down acoustic set with just a pianist/keyboardist and guitarist. Filmed at the Santa Monica Women’s Club in Santa Monica, California, the venue feels more like a small elegant playhouse than a concert hall, but works perfectly for the performance.
As Adele performs, the lack of full instrumentation exposes the extent of her vocal abilities and you can feel the full weight of the personal experiences she pours into her lyrics. My personal favorite moment of the show was what Adele described as a “bossa nova” rendition of The Cure’s classic “Love Song”. Her voice brings to light the depth of dedication the lyrics posses. The song becomes less a moving piece about undying love, and more a about a crazed obsession, induced by the heart.
In addition to the live performances, a one-on-one interview woven between the live sets features Adele discussing topics including her creative process. While it gives the viewer a better picture of the woman behind music, I would argue that we get the best glimpse of her true personality back on stage. She opens up and talks directly to the crowd, sharing anecdotes like fantasizing about being a bride in the hall before sound-check, or a story about her mother sneaking her into a concert at the age of three.
If you happen to be an Adele fan this is, without a doubt, an absolute must see. If you’re not the slow pace and mellow atmosphere may bore you a little bit, but for the brightest spots like her Cure cover and an energetic performance of “Rollin In The Deep” it’s worth the lull.
Get close to Adele without getting your dreamy unrealistic ideals shattered by checking out her performance on “Live From The Artist Den” on PBS. Check your local listings for airtimes.