"As the singer crooned the first single, 'Easy on Me,' from the steps of L.A.’s Griffith Observatory and the sunset sent streaks of pink and orange across the sky, she looked over her right shoulder, her long lashes just visible above the raised neckline of her evening gown. In the background, slightly blurred, the Hollywood sign could be seen looming in the hills above Los Angeles, an image director Paul Dugdale returned to more than once," says Jen Chaney. "The moment looked like a movie. It sounded like a song. And it raised the question, Has Adele gone a little too Hollywood?" In putting together her audience, Adele told Oprah Winfrey, "I wanted to do a mixture of people that I know and love, people that I’ve met a few times, and some of you I don’t know at all. But hi.” Chaney adds: "It was a fun game to figure out who fit in which category. Leonardo DiCaprio, who gave a standing ovation in a baseball cap and a hoodie, mask slung over his chin, as if he were planning to pull off a heist after the show: Someone she has met a few times? Lizzo, wearing what Adele referred to as a “poncho-coat,” seemingly made entirely out of flowers: Also someone she has met a few times but possibly someone she knows and loves? Aaron Paul, Ellen DeGeneres, Jesse Tyler Ferguson: Look, I don’t know." Chaney adds that Adele One Night Only "did its job... despite the rarefied art it occupied...The production of this reintroduction of Adele Laurie Blue Adkins may have been a lot at times. But given what she brought to the stage as a performer of talent that somehow feels more immense than all those wide shots of L.A. transitioning from dusk to dark, I’m inclined to go easy on her."
Adele made a strong statement wearing a white pantsuit for her One Night Only special interview with Oprah Winfrey: Adele is adept in "her mastery of the art the image; her message of post-divorce strength and freedom as told through every performative tool at her disposal. Including her lyrics, her interview and (yes) her clothes," says Vanessa Friedman. "Not so much the black taffeta Schiaparelli mermaid gown she wore to take the stage for her concert, but the white pantsuit she wore for her one-on-one with Oprah. The white pantsuit she wore, for example, while she talked about leaving her marriage 'and finding my own happiness,' about the joy of lifting weights, about stopping drinking, about feeling secure in her new self, about owning her own body image and not bothering with what other people thought. A white pantsuit: It has increasingly been the single garment most associated with women’s liberation and empowerment on the public stage. At this point, it’s a symbol as much as an outfit. Adele simply took the political and reminded the world it’s also personal. If anyone thought the garment was a rebellious relic of the Trump era, this has just broadened its resonance instead."
Adele's concert was great, but her interview with Oprah was snooze-worthy: "As Adele has made clear over the years, it’s the music where she’s most expressive, which was certainly borne out Sunday night by her uneventful and distinctly nonrevealing interview with Oprah, which only succeeded in interrupting the momentum of the performance," says Lorraine Ali. "The host, who triumphed this year with a blockbuster interview of Prince Harry and Meghan Markle, tried to find the complicated woman behind the emotive lyrics by asking — in about a 100 different ways — how Adele writes such moving songs. But the artist remained hidden behind the tough, no-frills shell she’s long maintained, even after graduating with age to the crisp white suit and secret-garden setting...At least the concert provided a little more drama. Adele helped a fan plan a surprise marriage proposal to his girlfriend. He brought her to the observatory blindfolded, unmasked her, then popped the question in front of the celebrity crowd and the singer. (Lucky for him, and Adele, she said yes.) The most transparent and vulnerable Adele appeared during the two-hour special was not during the interview but onstage, when she spoke directly to her son."
Adele One Night Only was set in the perfect location: "The British singer could not have picked a more perfect location for her celebrity-heavy performance than the Griffith Observatory, one of Los Angeles’ most iconic landmarks," says Lily Moayeri. "The space is almost as iconic as the Hollywood sign, which falls into the same scenic frame when looking north to the hills of the city. Adele, in her hyper-glamorous floor-length, form-fitting, off-the-shoulder black dress, a sweeping up-do and dangly earrings plus flawless makeup, gave the whole setting an old-world Hollywood feel. Despite her groomed appearance, there was no holding back from Adele. She ripped into each song, both old and new, with enviable confidence. At just the right time of day into evening, with well-placed lighting, the Observatory looked custom-made for this performance (originally recorded on October 24th) from one of the world’s highest-selling musical artists, who most fans would normally be watching from a faraway seat in a stadium, not so close they could match her lipstick shade—a fantastic neutral matte that everyone needs in their collection, incidentally."