Earlier this week, during the homestretch of her 15-month-long slog of a world tour, Adele announced to fans in New Zealand that this could actually be the end of her short-lived touring days. “Touring isn’t something I’m good at,” she said at Sunday night’s show. “Applause makes me feel a bit vulnerable.” And so she dropped this bomb: “I don’t know if I will ever tour again. The only reason I’ve toured is you. I’m not sure if touring is my bag.” She then tearfully thanked the tour for “changing my life,” and carried on being Adele while the internet fanned the flames. If you take Adele’s comments at their extreme face value (as her entire fandom seems to have done), this means that after the final four shows of Adele Live — which wraps up back in London at Wembley Stadium June 28 through July 2 — Adele will retire from touring at age 29. To put that in perspective, the late Leonard Cohen didn’t truly hit his touring stride until his 70s.
But Adele’s decision wouldn’t be an exception: Enya’s never toured a day in her life and has only recently begun to consider it. Kate Bush stopped touring for 35 years when she was even younger than Adele, but eventually came back. They each had their reasons — greater interest in recording than performing being the primary explanation — but Adele is a unique case. Her fame eclipses Enya’s, Kate’s, and just about everyone who’s ever sung a note’s fame. What does someone with Adele’s ubiquity, star power, and voice do as a singer if not sing live? We have some ideas. Here is Vulture’s unsolicited advice for the rest of Adele’s presumably long career off the road.
Do Whatever She Wants
Honestly, Adele never needed to tour in the first place. Touring is how artists nowadays pay the bills because albums no longer sell. Unless that artist is Adele, whose last two albums have individually sold more units than most other musicians’ entire discographies ever will. She didn’t need to tour after 21 and ended up having to cancel the whole spectacle due to vocal cord hemorrhaging; questions about whether she’d ever be able to tour again dogged her for years after. Her current tour exists to prove she could keep at it, and it’s been no cop-out. This tour put Adele to work for 122 shows on multiple continents — enough live appearances to satisfy fans for a lifetime. And in this business, bet that at least one of them was taped for a concert film after it’s all over. Adele, love, there’s no fan-artist contract that says you’re obligated to perform for us for the rest of your life (though we can’t speak for your label contract). Bow out on top.
Tour As a Hologram
Listen, if we have the technology to holographically resurrect dead musicians for profit, then why not skip ahead and just do it for the living? Touring isn’t healthy. No one should spend months at a time on a bus — though, we’re sure Adele’s is quite luxurious — whizzing through time zones, climates, and life. Going from relative solitude to being screamed at by thousands every day sounds unpleasant. Adele should feel no shame in phoning in all future performances if we’ve already invented the digital capabilities to make it feel somewhat authentic. From the nosebleeds, who can tell the difference? That might even have been a test Adele hologram onstage this whole time for all anyone knows. It’s an easy solution to a tricky problem: Have Adele record new live vocals, get her in a motion-capture bodysuit for total accuracy, and voila! And because Real Adele will still be here while her hologram tours the world, she can continuously update its witty stage banter and give it commands to assist in even more engagements.
Livestream Performances Remotely
One big reason people still pay top dollar for concerts is for the you-had-to-be-there element. Livestreaming has taken plenty of that magic away — a lot of people watched Drake and Madonna kiss at Coachella as it happened, but how many of us were physically there? There are actually two major pros to livestreaming that purists ought to consider: it’s cheap and crazy convenient. Say Adele signed a deal with HBO that allowed her to perform from wherever she chooses and have the performances broadcast live to subscribers on a set schedule. It’d be like having Adele on pay-per-view. You’d never have to leave your couch or pay for parking, you could have booze and food at the price of your choosing, there’d be no one blocking your view with their phones, and Adele wouldn’t have to deal with nerves. Best part: In the end, you can climb straight into bed (you were probably already there). No traffic! No bathroom lines! This option’s really a win for all.
Perform Exclusively at Awards Shows From Now On
So you wanna be a “lazy” performer who’d still like to sing but only infrequently and on your own terms? Take your talents to awards-show season. There are a few ways in: Sing songs that will get you nominated and, therefore, picked to perform at all the big shows. Or volunteer to sing every tribute and in memoriam performance ever, Tori Kelly style. Adele has already won an Oscar for singing a Bond theme, and several Grammys, so she knows how to play this game. (Just imagine how many more Bond themes there’ll be for her to record.) She’s also done tributes, albeit with a couple hiccups — so although awards shows have not always been kind to Adele, they’re still a fine touring substitute.
Judge X Factor
It’s like touring but you get to sit down and stay in one place. Okay, maybe judging a reality-show competition in which bad singers will badly sing your songs to you is nothing like touring. It is, however, an easy paycheck that allows you maximum exposure for minimal effort. At most, Adele will only have to trot out her songs herself on the season finales; and maybe she’ll have to do a vocal run here and there to show up a contestant. The Voice is every artist’s side gig, but could Adele ever turn her back on X Factor?
Go Straight to a Las Vegas Residency
As Céline Dion 2.0, it’s only right that Adele be the heir to Céline’s Las Vegas residency at Caesars Palace. But does she really need to wait until she’s Céline’s age to get there? Adele’s career is basically designed for this endpoint and we see no reason to delay the inevitable. She came out of the gate a legacy artist, let her do what legacy artists do. Here’s a plan: Release two more albums (29 and 33?), coast on their chart successes, then begin a Las Vegas residency by 35. That way, instead of always traveling to the people, as the rigors of touring require, the people can come to her. It’s a career route that Britney Spears has already make acceptable for younger crowds — Britney was among the youngest to start a residency in this retiree oasis — but prematurely aging herself has never been Adele’s concern. She’s had to endure the stereotype that her music is for the boomer generation for years — it’s time to just embrace it. Then, when Adele gets tired of the Vegas heat, she can close the curtains on performing — and maybe even releasing albums altogether — and retire to the English countryside to live her best British life and occasionally drunk-tweet when no one’s looking.
Make the Super Bowl Her Final Show Ever
Adele didn’t say she’d never perform again, but hanging it all up would be the ultimate power move. And we know just the place to call it a career: the Super Bowl halftime show. Sure, Adele has said she wouldn’t play the Super Bowl because “that show is not about music,” but neither is performing for the last time. It’s about the moment. The Super Bowl loves a moment! Whitney Houston’s National Anthem was a moment. An equally good idea: Everything we just said, but instead, the Super Bowl is a fake out and she disappears for years, then, when the time for her Rock and Roll Hall of Fame induction comes, she can deliver her true final performance. A mic drop for the ages. Or, you know, she could just wait around for the comeback call from Coachella in 30 years.