Adele, UCL Bloomsbury Theatre, London

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The Independent Culture

There seems little reason to complete this review, since this much is already written: Adele will be huge in 2008. By the end of the week, her debut album 19 will be number one. By the end of next month, it will have been downloaded by tens of thousands of teens, and by the end of the year their parents will have caught on, too.

Lucky, then, that it's not half bad. In fact, it's probably the best British collection of its kind since Amy Winehouse's Back to Black, and knocks the socks off 2007 offerings from the likes of Kate Nash or Amy MacDonald. More likely to give Adele critical competition this year are fellow debutantes Duffy and Laura Marling, but here's hoping there's room for all three.

The only thing that really unites all the above acts is their membership of a mushrooming girl power scene, bursting with talented singer-songwriters. I'm duty-bound to run through the comparisons with Winehouse here: Amy and Adele both attended the Brit School; both are friendly with Mark Ronson; both write and perform songs that are soul-tinged and shot through with melancholy. Both have voices that leave you reeling. But their differences are myriad, too.

For one thing, Adele arrives on time and completes her show without mishap. Aged 19, she is already a consummate pro. She plays her album straight through, and on the first two tracks, "Daydreamer" and "Best For Last", is only accompanied by her acoustic guitar. It is electrifying and highlights both her skilful playing and her songwriting prowess.

Crowd-pleaser "Chasing Pavements" sees the arrival of her band of pale-faced indie boys, and is followed by "Cold Shoulder", which she recorded with Ronson at the mixing desk, and which is (along with "Right As Rain") one of a pair of eminently danceable numbers. Next up is a rare mis-step, the slightly tedious "Crazy For You". But her Dylan cover, "Make you Feel my Love", is heartbreaking and, dare I blaspheme, even better than Bob's original.

There's one strange omission – the album's wonderful penultimate track "Tired" – before the show is rounded off with "Hometown Glory", her stunning, piano-led paean to London. Adele's voice is on the verge of cracking, yet she rides it out with a belting climax. And she has an excuse: she barely slept because her record company made her go on GMTV early in the morning. Get used to it, girl – there'll be a lot more where that came from.

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