Thursday, August 18, 2011

ADELE at the Greek Theatre/ Addiction

I'm in the middle of writing the second draft of my YA novel, and Adele's two albums play on a loop whenever I work on it. There's a reason I'll only listen to her for this book- I'll get to that later. I don't buy many new albums- but when she won her Grammy for best new artist, she made a sound when she acknowledged the Jonas Brothers- also in her category- an "eegh" sound that meant, "I want to fuck you," and though I find the Jonas Brothers repugnant, I was immediately smitten with Adele.
We got there super early. Sorry for the crap quality of these pictures- they are from Mark's cell phone.

I also love the Greek Theatre in Los Angeles. I think it's my favorite venue. It's in Griffith Park- another one of my favorite places ever. It's walking distance from both the apartments my husband and I have lived in here in LA. It's in the mountains. It's not immense the way the Hollywood Bowl is. And there is something magical about sitting under the moon and the stars, surrounded by redwoods, part of a crowd, here for live music.

Happy Lady at the Greek Theatre.

We didn't have tickets, and they were going for HUNDREDS of dollars. No thank you. We decided to take our chances a couple hours before showtime and pretty easily scored two thirty dollar tickets, excellent seats, straight from the box office. This was after a lovely day at my summer job (a non-profit horse ranch for at-risk girls) where I felt so sad thinking about leaving these wonderful girls and wondering if I'd ever have a magic summer (awesome job, lots of writing time) like this again.

This is where I work. Jealous? I won't bother with pics from my other job- AKA most depressing place on the planet

Wanda Jackson opened the show, and what a sassy broad! Loved her and her raspy, crispy voice. She covered an Amy Winehouse song and it seemed natural, like I was expecting it. Amy was also a sassy broad, just like Wanda and Adele. It hit me hard when Amy Winehouse died, not because I was a giant fan, but because she was struggling, she was trying to fight addiction and she didn't make it and when I heard she died I thought of the members of my immediate family, two alcoholics and a heroin addict and if they were going to be able to fight the demons Amy died from.

Good heavens, I love this place

I didn't know how much I wanted to see Adele until her voice came from the dark as she opened "Hometown Glory," a swooning, sad song that makes you think of home and the people there that "are the wonders of my world." She appeared after the first verse, fresh, alive, shining, healthy and we all glowed, ecstatic to see her. The crowd was a noticeably diverse one, too- Adele appeals across race and sexual orientation. She is all around lovable.

Adele chatted between every song and she is just the most endearing, confidant, self-deprecating,  relatable artist I've ever seen live. She let out a big, "HA" as she laughed at her own jokes and it reminded me of my tendency to snort whenever I think I've said something hysterical. After "I'll be Waiting," she said, "That was a rare happy song. The rest is quite depressing. Especially this one." And she sang, "When Will I See You Again?"
I actually think both songs are very sad. I'll Be Waiting is the desperation of wanting someone back, perhaps when you are on a break but you have hope it will all turn out OK in the end. Don't You Remember is after he has left, and these beautiful lines, "I know I have a fickle heart, and a bitterness and a wandering eye and a heaviness in my head, but don't you remember the reason you loved me, before?" She is who she is. Unapologetic.

When you are young, you fall in love hard and fast and unapologetically. I fell in love like mad, I fell in love with my friends, male or female, I fell in love with bands and rivers and places and objects, I fell and fell and fell and I felt so much for everything and everyone and this is what adolescence is to me- it is feeling without boundary, unadulterated emotion, unapologetic, free and without the scar tissue of adulthood, the world wide open with possibility, hope given free reign. This is being a teenager.
Do you remember when you first fell in love? Do you remember how all consuming it was? You could not think or talk about anyone or anything else. You thought you would die without that person. You wanted to swallow them whole and you wanted them to swallow you whole so you would never lose each other. You don't know yet that you can't sustain this amount of emotion forever. What I am saying, is that in Adele's voice is this unapologetic emotion. Her words do not make you feel like these are crippled love songs, but relatable ones, we have all felt this way.

It's how we all feel- sometimes sad, lonely, sometimes depressed but we get it out and it's easy to laugh about our sadness and easy to laugh in general.
"Don't you remember the reason you loved me?" Don't we all feel this way about someone? When she sings this line, I think about my brothers and how close we used to be and the demons that are eating them up, the demons that took away my father and are trying to take my brothers away from me.

The song ends and Adele points out her sequined outfit, "I tried to look Hollywood for you. I was gonna wear red lipstick but I've got a cold sore. It's quite disgusting actually. I don't know why I said that."

"Anyway," she looked out at the crowd, the trees, the mountains. "It's quite beautiful here, innit?"

"YES IT IS," I yelled back, tears in my eyes.
"My nerves are settling, I might stop talking rubbish soon." I hoped she would never stop talking rubbish.
"Did you come here with your best friend?" Adele wanted to know. "This song is about me best friend Laura. We had a falling out over lip gloss or boys or something stupid. I don't know what happened really. I toured after my first album and I couldn't stop thinking about her. I called her on New Years, crying, drunk, I miss you. And she's the love of my life now!"
Remember when your friends were the loves of your life? Remember that intensity? I loved that time. I have a couple of friends from my teen years, and that intensity either burns out or it carries you into a lifelong friendship.

The moon rose over the stage, and from our vantage point, the moon hung in the sky right over Adele.

Wish I had a decent camera for this, but here is Adele on stage under the moon
Adele explained that almost all the songs on her new album are about her ex, and that this next song gets her emotional every time she sings it. "It's alright, it's alright. I'm playing the Greek Theatre. Where the fuck is he?" We all cheered like crazy. She sang, "Go on and take it all. Don't look back at this crumbling fool."
At this point in the show I start to get worried that Adele thinks she needs heartbreak and pain in order to write best selling albums. I scribble in my notebook, don't crumble under your lonleiness, you are a lioness, and of course I am thinking of Amy Winehouse.
But the next song is "Rumor Has It." Adele explains it's about going out with her girlfriends ("the loves of my life,") and they ask her if the rumors are true that she is dating a certain older, famous man. She flips, "Fuck off! I've never even met him!" I don't need to be worried about her. She'll be fine.
Just then she explains that the next song is the one happy song on the album. "I was so excited. I can write a happy song!" Unfortunately, the guy the song is about "turned out to be SUCH a prick. The worst of them all!"  But jeez, she gets her heart broken over and over but she is still able to feel this: "I dare you to let me be your one and only. I promise I'm worth it. I know it ain't easy. Giving up your heart. I'm worth it." (Half of me is in love with her, let's quit men together! The stinkers! Half of me just wants to be best friends and boy talk.)
She sings Lovesong, a song that means a lot to Mark and I. Adele, though, "thinks of my mum when I sing this song. She's into paragliding now. Which I pay for. Anyone here paraglide? I'm not losing my mama to the sky."

Before she takes her encore ("I've only got two albums. No one should do an encore unless you're Bruce Springsteen. Quite ridiculous, aren't they?") she sings "To Make You Feel My Love" for Amy Winehouse. She asks us all to lift up our LED screens so "Amy can see them from upstairs." (I am so old- I remember when people lifted up their lighters at concerts.) Adele says what a lot of people think- that she would not be here without Amy.

To Make You Feel My Love

I think about how there are plenty of people without genius or success who suffer from addiction. I've come to think of addiction as a demon that possesses an otherwise lovely, normal and kind person and eats them alive from the inside.
And you don't know how to hate the demon but love the person. And once you learn how to both hate the demon and love the person, you don't know how to let them know that you still love them when part of what the demon wants is to make you feel like no one loves you and never will. "I could hold you for a million years, to make you feel my love. I'd go hungry, I'd go black and blue, I'd go crawling down the avenue, to make you feel my love. Nothing I wouldn't do. I'd go to the ends of the earth for you. To make you feel my love."
How do you love someone who won't let you love them? I don't know how to answer that.
I know that Al-anon tells you to CARE LESS. They tell you to FEEL LESS. You are supposed to do this to shield yourself, to keep yourself from falling apart. There is nothing you can do. You can't make this person stop drinking. You can't make them stop shooting heroin. You can't feel hope when they stop and you can't feel helpless when they start again. Al-anon tells you to steel yourself, harden yourself, feel less. Care less.
Adulthood tells you this too. When you grow up you can't fall in love suddenly and hard and without reason. You can't love with abandon. Your love needs to be measured and reasoned and practical and hard, hard so it can withstand the hurricane that is life.
This is actually something I say to myself all the time so I won't succumb to bouts of sadness: FEEL LESS. CARE LESS.
Tonight, Adele made me feel, made me think, that for this one night it was okay to CARE MORE. Care as much as I want. Do not temper my tears. Sing along with any ol' kind of emotion I feel like. This is why I am listening to her albums as I write my YA book about my Dakotas girl, a girl who wants to feel love but doesn't know where to put it, a girl who has power and energy running through her that she doesn't know what to do with, a girl who wants to be a teenager and an adult at the same time. That's how Adele makes me feel too.