Adele's Vegas residency proves the slot isn't just for pop stars in the twilight of their careers
In a new interview with Elle magazine published on Monday, global megastar, national treasure, and wine superfan Adele discussed details of her upcoming Las Vegas residency, Weekends with Adele. The show will play at the Colosseum at Caesar’s Palace – previously home to residencies by Celine Dion, Shania Twain, Mariah Carey, and Madonna – on Friday and Saturday nights from November 2022 until March 2023.
Adele’s Vegas residency has been a long time coming, and hard won. It was initially slated to begin much sooner, but in January this year, she cancelled it. She told Elle that the move came due to Covid’s impact on her team, as well as the more damning fact that when she was rehearsing, the show felt “soulless”, and lacking the intimacy she likes to bring to her performances (having seen her at Hyde Park this summer, I can tell you that somehow, her warm, familiar on-stage manner made the sold-out, 65,000-capacity show feel like she’d got on the mic at a family barbecue). Either way, the cancellation was, Adele said, “the worst moment of my career by far”, and she felt so guilty over the change that she halted promo on her album 30, released only three months before, in November 2021.
Now, though, with the residency reimagined to feel more complimentary to Adele’s style, she is anticipating its launch later this year, and is one of many younger musicians who are turning to the Vegas residency. In recent years, artists from Katy Perry to Drake to Usher have signed up for or performed residencies in Sin City – previously thought of as the reserve of ageing crooners and grande dames of divaship like Bette Midler and Barbra Streisand – and perceptions around them are changing. What, then, is behind the recent rise of the residency? And are artists like Adele making Vegas residencies cool again?
The face of Vegas residencies has actually been gradually changing for the past 10 years, and this is largely down to one legendary performer in particular: Miss Britney Jean Spears. In 2013, Britney began her Piece of Me residency at The AXIS at Las Vegas’ Planet Hollywood Resort and Casino. The announcement of her high-octane pop show raised a lot of eyebrows at the time, again because of the connotations of a Vegas residency.
In the years immediately preceding Britney, Vegas was characterised by performers including Elton John and Cher – fabulous, certainly, but also inarguably at a different phase in their careers to the younger star. And while Vegas shows have always been about spectacle (Celine Dion’s A New Day show, which ran from 2003 to 2007, incorporated the world’s largest indoor LED screen at the time), Britney’s upbeat bangers felt very different to the balladry and belting that seemed typical of Las Vegas’ live music offering at the time.
While it should always be remembered that during the years when her residency took place, Britney was under the oppressive conservatorship from which she was released in November 2021, and so therefore was not in control of the decision to perform, it is total testament to skill and charm as a performer that she alone possesses, as well as the strength of her back catalogue, that her show seemed to give other younger artists permission to foray into the world of Vegas, not least because it grossed $138m (£114m) over its four years.
In 2016, just before Britney’s run ended, Jennifer Lopez, an artist from a similar musical space to Spears, with a similarly recognisable back catalogue, mounted her All I Have residency, at another Planet Hollywood theatre, Zappos, which ran until 2018. After Lopez’s run there, Gwen Stefani moved in for 25 shows.
In the past year or so, even more contemporary artists have taken to the Vegas stage. Earlier this year, Drake signed a $10m (£8.2) deal with the city’s XS nightclub, while Katy Perry’s Play – a celebration of her hits and kooky style, wherein she dresses as, among other things, a mushroom in fringed chaps – continues throughout this year. Grammy-winning duo Silk Sonic, consisting of Bruno Mars and Anderson .Paak are performing their An Evening with Silk Sonic residency as I type, while Usher’s show will pick back up later this month, to run until at least October.
While Vegas is still host to legacy artists like Barry Manilow, Diana Ross and Lionel Richie (all of whom will perform on the strip later this year, too), the city is an attractive prospect for younger artists, too. It offers a level of consistency that live musicians, used to touring, don’t usually get (in the Elle interview, Adele noted that her weekend Vegas performances mean that her son’s schooling won’t be disrupted), while also offering the huge theatre capacity, massive stages, and state of the art technology that arena artists are used to.
The fact that all of the artists I have mentioned are arena performers is important too. They are the types of artists who draw a crowd, because while they are younger than your typical perception of a “Vegas artist”, they also tend to be a good way into their careers, with guaranteed pull, and fans who have grown up with them, and crucially have the income to supplement sometimes steep ticket prices and trips out to Las Vegas.
For a performer like Adele, the conditions seem totally ripe. Vegas has been slowly revitalising for years, and in some ways, she has always seemed destined for the city, as she brings her classic glamour and variety show-type schtick (hers is as much a stand-up comedy set as a vocal masterclass) to its stage. In this way, though she is only 34, Adele speaks to the type of Vegas show that her peers have bucked – and so as she has done throughout her career so far, it seems that she will once again marry tradition and the zeitgeist, to do Vegas the Adele way.