The fans lined up at the Staples Center tent weren't waiting to purchase a mug, sleep mask, smartphone case, compact mirror, tote bag or other piece of Adeleware emblazoned with the pop star's face or lyrics. Instead, they were in queue to take selfies and group shots next to the songstress.
Granted, it wasn't the actual Adele. But that didn't matter. Scores of fans who arrived to Staples Center early on Friday posed in front of the sultry close-up portrait from her latest blockbuster album, "25," plastered atop the tent. The next stop? The line to purchase shirts and trinkets.
Hours before the British singer would open the first of an unprecedented eight-night run of sold-out shows at Staples (breaking the record that Taylor Swift notched last year with five gigs), Adele fever was in full swing.
The facade of Staples was partially covered by a sprawling banner noting the sold-out concert dates, and the Team LA store, which sells Lakers and Kings merchandise, had been rechristened "Adele LA" with a new sign. Those not lucky enough to snag tickets could at least purchase Adele merchandise.
But other fans, of course, were simply eager to get inside.
"Her voice is just so amazing. She's the first artist we really wanted to see in concert. We don't want to see anyone else," said Karen Broderick, 31, who made a three-hour trek with her younger sister to bring their mom to the show for her 66th birthday. (It was Mom's first concert, by the way.)
Few pop stars prove as beloved — and bankable — as Adele. Demand for tickets in L.A. led to the singer, originally slated for six shows, to add two gigs late last month. Those quickly sold out too.
A survey of the plaza in front of Staples Center brought to mind the phrase "everyone from 8 to 80." And judging from the onesie being sold — it read "A is for Adele" — the singer's reach spans even further.
Moms brought excited young daughters, beelining to buy souvenirs. ("I need a shirt, Mom," one girl said with life-or-death conviction.) Couples of varying races, ages and orientations nuzzled on the way into the arena.
That Adele's concerts at Staples, and across the globe, are some of the year's hottest tickets should come as no surprise.
In a culture where fame is often driven by pithy tweets, scandalous behavior and high-profile coupling, Adele is the rare superstar whose celebrity is focused on her craft.
Most fans on Friday said they wanted to see her for two reasons: her voice and the songs of devastating heartbreak that have helped her sell millions of records.
"The difference between Adele and other acts is she's what people aspire to be," said Kelly Watkins, 36, a longtime fan of the singer who recently moved to L.A. from England.
Watkins' sister, Sara, explained her own devotion: "She's real, honest, heartfelt. With the Internet, you can see so much. But we're gonna breathe her oxygen. I want to savor it and put it in a jar. … I sound crazy," she said, laughing.
But there may not have been a fan more dedicated than Celeste Rendon, 31, heading into Friday's concert.
Days before the show Rendon, who traveled from Sunnyvale to see her idol, had a dilemma: how to best replicate the chic floral silk-chiffon gown Adele wore in the video for "Send My Love (To Your New Lover)."
Rendon wanted to pay tribute to the singer and get as close to the $8,000 Dolce & Gabbana number as she could without breaking the bank.
A similar fabric was being sold online but it would ship from China, and Rendon didn't know if she could make the dress in time. Her backup dress — a long-sleeved maxi covered in a dark floral print — proved convincing enough, especially with her hair styled in a loose bun like Adele had in the video.
"She's everything I am and hope to be," Rendon said, getting emotional about seeing the singer live for the first time. "I feel like she feels what we all feel. You hear one of her songs and it's like, oh, that's what I'm saying."
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