Esmeralda Devlin is the very successful set designer to the stars

The A-list set designer that ‘clashed with Adele’: Esmeralda Devlin – whose clients include Beyonce and Kanye West – convinced star to go on tour in 2016 by winning her over with striking sets – but the pair have now come to blows over Vegas show

  • Esmeralda Devlin, 50, from south London, has worked with dozens of A-listers designing sets across world 
  • Clients include Billie Eilish, The Rolling Stone, Beyonce, Miley Cyrus, Pet Shop Boys, The Weeknd and others
  • She is said to have rowed with Adele before she cancelled her Las Vegas shows with 24 hours notice  

A set designer to the stars who is said to have rowed with Adele before she cancelled her Las Vegas shows previously convinced her to go on tour by winning her over with her striking designs.

Esmeralda Devlin, 50, from south London, has worked with dozens of A-listers designing sets all over the world.

The mother-of-two has previously worked with Beyonce, Kanye West, Miley Cyrus, The Weeknd, Rolling Stones and Billie Eilish. She also has two Olympic ceremonies under her belt, having designed sets for the London 2012 Closing Ceremony and Rio 2016 Opening ceremony.

But the superstar set-designer has now come under fire after sources close to Adele said the last-minute cancellation of her Las Vegas residency came after ‘explosive arguments’ over the staging and production of the show.

Esmeralda Devlin (pictured) 50, from south London, has worked with dozens of A-listers designing sets all over the world 

Sources told the Sun the shows were destined for trouble due to behind-the-scenes clashes between Adele (pictured) and acclaimed set designer Esmeralda Devlin – who she previously worked with on her 2016 world tour

The  33-year-old superstar told fans via a tearful video this week that her concerts at Caesar’s Palace would not be going ahead due to ‘half her crew’ falling ill with Covid.

It left her legions of fans devastated after many had flown in from across the world to see the Easy On Me singer – with some forking out up to £9,000 on tickets.

But sources since told the Sun the shows were destined for trouble due to behind-the-scenes clashes between Adele and acclaimed set designer Esmeralda Devlin   known as Es –  with whom she previously worked on her 2016 world tour.

One source claimed: ‘In spite of the set costing millions to put together, Adele was unhappy with the result, and she made her feelings very clear to Es.

‘She was already nervous and the falling-out sent her spiralling into a panic because she was desperate that everything should be perfect.’ 

But it’s no doubt that Es has previously dealt with egos of A-listers, with so many big name shows in her resume. 

The Guardian previously called her ‘ the world’s most influential set designer’ having worked on Beyonce’s Formation tour, Miley Cyrus’ BANGERZ shows and joining Jay-Z and Kanye West for the Watch the Throne tour. 

The Guardian previously called her ‘ the world’s most influential set designer’ having worked on Beyonce’s Formation tour, Miley Cyrus’ BANGERZ (pictured) shows and joining Jay-Z and Kanye West for the Watch the Throne tour.

Beyonce is pictured at her Formation tour in Pittsburgh, US. Es designed the set for the show

Es began in theatre after getting an English literature from Bristol University followed by a foundation degree at Central St Martin’s. She did the set for The Pet Shop boys shows in 2018 (pictured)  

Adele (pictured) is said to have argued with Es over the sets before the cancellation of the tour

Es was awarded an OBE in 2015 for services to stage and set design Investitures. She is pictured at Buckingham Palace

Es began in theatre after getting an English literature from Bristol University followed by a foundation degree  at Central St Martin’s.

She’s previously worked with Adele and claimed in 2016 that the superstar ‘didn’t want to go on tour’ but was convinced to by her set designs.

She told the Evening Standard: ‘She had to like the design before agreeing to do the tour. She’s got a child, she didn’t want to go.’

The trick, she claims, was to help get over Adele’s stage fright by designing something that allowed the hitmaker to the ‘big-old eyeliner’ diva and the ‘little-old ‘alwite you!’ from Tottenham’ at the same time.  

The result was Adele’s blinking eyelids – with thick lashings of mascara –  projected onto a canvas backdrop.

As a superstar design, Es gets inside the audience and performers minds.

The Giant screens project images throughout U2’s performance during the Experience and Innocence tour were designed by Es

She’s gone beyond the stage too, in 2018 she added a brand new lion to a plinth in Trafalgar Square. But bright red and roaring, it stood out from the grey Landseer Lions which are a permanent feature of the central London hotspot. Es spent a year working with Google Arts and Culture on the project which used technology that enabled it to write poems – t he public were invited to ‘feed’ words to the lion. These then appeared as LED lights in its mouth and were beamed onto Nelson’s column at night

Es has worked with Kanye West on five tours – he is pictured at Madison Square Garden as part of his ‘Yeezus’ tour in 2013

She previously called Beyonce ‘bionic’ as she’d finishing rehearsing and happily to a fitting at 2am – while she also said Miley Cyrus ‘sings like a f****** dream but has a ‘toxic’ zone around her. So she built a giant model of the Miley’s tongue for her 2013 tour

‘I said, let’s take your stupid tongue, and slide you down it. Just slide down your tongue,’ she added to the Evening Standard.

Other stars she’s worked with include  Lady Gaga, and Rihanna and Adele, as well as three Louis Vuitton catwalk shows, two Olympic ceremonies.

She’s also done dozens of West End shows – including the Barbican’s sell-out Hamlet production, starring Benedict Cumberbatch. She has received multiple accolades including three Oliviers and an OBE

Beyonce performs during the opening night of the Formation World Tour in a set designed by Es

Pet Shop Boys in concert on the first night of four sold-out shows at London’s Royal Opera House – in a set designed by Es

Es also worked with Damien Hirst for the London 2012 Olympic closing ceremony.

The artist designed eight panels to form a football-pitch-sized Union Flag, with famous British literature printed on it.     

Born in Kingston Upon Thames, the daughter of a teacher and a journalist got her start doing small London fringe shows after graduating from Central Saint Martin’s. 

Who has Esmeralda Devlin worked with? 

Louis Vuitton, The Weeknd, U2, Stormzy, Lorde, Beyonce, Adele, Benedict Cumberbatch, Miley Cyrus, Kanye West, Billie Eilish, Jay-Z, MTV (EMAs) and more

‘At the beginning, I didn’t understand what a set designer did, to be honest,’ she previously told Wallpaper magazine.

 ‘I walked into the room, which was not so different to this one [her studio]… ‘OK, I like this room, this is a bit like where I’ve been all my life so far, playing with bits of cardboard. And if this doesn’t work out, I’ll just be happy to be here making stuff.’ 

South London through and through – she now lives in Dulwich, with her two children and husband, and works in Peckham.

She’s gone beyond the stage too, in 2018 she added a brand new lion to a plinth in Trafalgar Square.

But bright red and roaring, it stood out from the grey Landseer Lions which are a permanent feature of the central London hotspot.

Es spent a year working with Google Arts and Culture on the project which used technology that enabled it to write poems – t he public were invited to ‘feed’ words to the lion.

These then appeared as LED lights in its mouth and were beamed onto Nelson’s column at night.

Es has come into the limelight over reported clashes with Adele over her cancelled Vegas residency.

Es also worked with Damien Hirst for the London 2012 Olympic closing ceremony. The artist designed eight panels to form a football-pitch-sized Union Flag, with famous British literature printed on it.

A source said: ‘There was no real clarity around what Adele wanted for the show because of the endless changes being made to the production.

‘It seemed that while she has always preferred a stripped-back performance, she was under some pressure to come up with a huge extravaganza.

Adele’s Vegas residency in numbers 

24 – shows she was due to perform

4,100 – seats in the Colosseum

$1.5 million-$2.2 million – expected in ticket sales per performance 

$685,000 – Adele’s paycheck per performance

$220 million – how much the singer is worth 

$85 – cost of the cheapest ticket, before fees

$30,000 – how much tickets were changing hands for online 

Five – years since Adele has given a public concert 

‘So there was a constant ricochet between those two versions of what the show should be, and it did cause some quite explosive arguments.

‘Most shows have teething problems of one kind or another, but there has been a feeling for some time that these shows were heading for disaster.

‘It is well known that Adele suffers badly with anxiety when it comes to performing live, so it’s hard to imagine her going ahead if she wasn’t happy.’

It comes after a statement issued by Caesars Palace last week failed to mention Covid, but read: ‘Creating a show of this magnitude is incredibly complex.’

The source added: ‘Adele was so excited about these shows. But when it came down to it, there was too much indecision and conflict for them to work.’    

In a video posted to social media from a £30,000-per-night suite at Caesars Palace, Adele sobbed as she apologised for the 11th-hour cancellation and insisted that she had been forced to scrap the shows following a Covid outbreak.

But fans were dissatisfied with her explanation that ‘half’ her crew had tested positive for the virus and began demanding their money back.

Insiders previously claimed Adele clashed with Caesars Palace after a choir of 60 singers auditioned to perform the Skyfall opening number.

It is alleged that the venue had been planning a spectacular display, while Adele wanted the show to be much more ‘low-key’ and ‘all about the voice’.

She struggled to hold back her tears as she FaceTimed groups of fans who had jetted into Vegas to watch her perform.

She offered a free drink token to the disappointed concert-goers during one call, before hastily retracting her proposal after realising they were underage.

And despite ensuring ticket-holders would be given a free gift bag from her store in Sin City, Adele encouraged them to splash even more cash on her merchandise after they had already lost thousands on seats reaching $12,000, not to mention travel costs.

Inside the pop-up, the Adele-branded garments were priced up for more than some of the $85 tickets themselves, with sweatshirts ranging between $90 and $110 each.

An industry veteran branded Adele a ‘perfectionist’ who has a track record of axing her shows at the last minute, adding: ‘She has cancelled shows before — she cancelled two shows in London in 2017 which she said she would reschedule and she never did.’

Insiders have claimed that Adele clashed with Caesars Palace after a choir of 60 singers auditioned to perform the Skyfall opening number. It is alleged that the venue had been planning a spectacular display, while Adele wanted the show to be much more ‘low-key’ and ‘all about the voice’

Adele performing onstage at the Brit Awards 2016 at the 02 Arena in London, February 24, 2016

Fans were left angry and out of pocket when Adele opted to pull the plug at the 11th hour from the string of concerts that would have netted her £500,000 a show

Another source with a foot in Adele’s camp says that while there is no doubt that Covid has caused issues, there is bound to be speculation about whether her concerns over performing live were an additional factor in the decision.

While she promised on Twitter: ‘All dates will be rescheduled. More info coming soon’, she has made no secret of the fact that she hates touring and suffers from crippling stage fright.

She told one TV interviewer that live performances have her searching for the door: ‘I’m scared of audiences.

‘One show in Amsterdam, I was so nervous I escaped out the fire exit.

‘I’ve thrown up a couple of times. Once in Brussels, I projectile vomited on someone. I just gotta bear it.

‘But I don’t like touring. I have anxiety attacks a lot.’

She spoke of ‘constant panicking on stage, my heart feels like it’s going to explode because I never feel like I’m going to deliver, ever’.

It has been claimed that Adele was ‘in a panic’ before filming the Audience With show for ITV in October last year.

A source said: ‘Nobody cancels the day before.

‘You have more than 24 hours’ notice of Covid problems. I hear that Adele never wanted to do the Vegas shows in the first place.

‘I very much doubt that they will be rescheduled; I don’t think she’s up to performing at this level for this amount of dates.

‘She is a perfectionist and you can see that in the way she puts her albums back and back until she is happy with them.

‘But more than that she is a recording artist and not a performer and she should never have agreed to these shows in the first place.

‘She suffers really badly from stage fright, she hates being on the stage. For her to commit to going on stage every weekend for three months is madness.

‘The point was always going to come when she would decide she wasn’t going to do it.’

Upset: Thomas Wright (pictured)  flew from South Carolina for the opening night with a friend for the opening night. He told MailOnline that they spent $445 on each ticket

Dawn Sinko, designer from LA, spent nearly $4,000 on tickets and $1,500 on a room at Caesars for three nights

Adele said that ‘half’ her crew and team were off with the virus, which is indeed at the peak of a surge in Nevada

In 2017, during a concert in New Zealand, Adele said: ‘Touring isn’t something I’m good at — applause makes me feel a bit vulnerable. I don’t know if I will ever tour again.’

She has twice pulled out of US tours — once in 2008, when she was barely known, citing ‘personal family reasons’.

‘Her schedule is mammoth’: Adele’s Las Vegas residency ‘could be delayed until June or even 2023 due to the singer’s packed calendar’ 

Adele ‘s Las Vegas residency could be delayed until June or even 2023 due to the singer’s packed calendar, according to a new report.

The Someone Like You songstress, 33, made the decision to axe all her shows at the 11th hour on Thursday, leaving fans devastated and demanding the star cover the cost of their flights and hotels in Sin City.

And now reports claim ticket-holders could have to wait months or even a year to see the star perform due to her other commitments such as The Brits and her Hyde Park gigs in July.

Insiders told The Sun : ‘There are two slots in this year’s calendar, from the end of February to the start of May, and from the middle of June to the middle of September. But if they can’t work then it could be 2023 by the time they’re rescheduled.

‘The rest of the weekend dates in the year are taken up by other acts including Sting and Rod Stewart.

‘She is expected to still be a part of The Brit Awards next month and she has two headline gigs at Hyde Park on July 1 and 2.

‘Adele’s schedule is mammoth and it makes rescheduling a challenge but she is devoted to her fans and will do everything she can to get them back in the diary quickly.’

 

In 2011, she twice pulled out of tours in America, once with laryngitis and then because she had suffered a vocal haemorrhage. In 2016, she cancelled a concert in Arizona on account of illness.

From the start of this year, rumblings had begun to circulate in Vegas that Adele wasn’t keen on any spectacular staging.

Caesars Palace embarked on a complete overhaul of the dressing room originally created for Celine Dion — leading many to be convinced that Adele was in it for the long haul.

Many in Vegas believed that the plan was for her to keep on with the residency until 2024, potentially netting her up to £100million – £50million from performance fees and the rest from merchandising.

However, gossip columnist Roger Friedman was convinced something was awry by January 18.

Though the shows sold out instantly online during the pre-sales period and many tickets have since been sold again at inflated prices, Friedman noted there were still hundreds of tickets available on a resale website at around £400 each, and prices were said to be dropping.

Yesterday he wrote: ‘The whole Adele Vegas residency is a disaster.

‘But ‘We ain’t ready’ at the last minute doesn’t hold water. This isn’t the Rolling Stones stage show.

‘Adele live is her, an orchestra and some lighting. She’s not sailing across the theatre in a hook-up, there are no pyrotechnics.

‘Plus, let’s face it… this is only two shows per weekend.

‘If the show wasn’t ready, it could be postponed a couple of weeks, and the missed shows could have been rescheduled at the end of the run.

‘But they’ve scrapped the whole thing… so it’s not just a matter of not being ready… doesn’t make sense.’

Caesars Palace is closing ranks, and staffers have been warned that they will be dismissed if they speak to the media.

In a statement they said: ‘We understand the disappointment surrounding the postponement of Weekends With Adele.

‘Adele is an incredible artist, supremely dedicated to her music and her fans. Creating a show of this magnitude is incredibly complex.

‘We fully support Adele and are confident the show she unveils at The Colosseum at Caesars Palace will be extraordinary.’

Last night it emerged that Adele’s residency could be delayed until June or even next year due to the singer’s ‘packed calendar’.

Insiders told The Sun: ‘There are two slots in this year’s calendar, from the end of February to the start of May, and from the middle of June to the middle of September. But if they can’t work then it could be 2023 by the time they’re rescheduled.

‘The rest of the weekend dates in the year are taken up by other acts including Sting and Rod Stewart.

‘She is expected to still be a part of The Brit Awards next month and she has two headline gigs at Hyde Park on July 1 and 2.

‘Adele’s schedule is mammoth and it makes rescheduling a challenge but she is devoted to her fans and will do everything she can to get them back in the diary quickly.’

Many fans have demanded the singer covers the cost of their Las Vegas flights and hotels after her ‘astounding’ decision to axe all her shows when many were flying in or had already arrived in the entertainment capital of the world.

MailOnline has been inundated with emails from people who had already jetted in from across the US, Canada, Mexico, the UK and Europe to see the star, who is making a record-breaking £500,000 per gig before merchandising.

Fans paying between $85 and $12,000 for a ticket — or up to $30,000 on the black market — had already travelled to Las Vegas for the opening gig tonight.

If they get tickets for replacement shows, most will be unable to go without more extraordinary expense and more time off work.

Ticketmaster are urging people to ‘hang on to their tickets’ for new dates but says they will give refunds if people apply online.

But many are already in Vegas having travelled thousands of miles to be there for the opening night, demanding the singer covers the thousands of dollars they have already laid out on flights and hotel rooms they have no hope of getting refunds for.

Many are questioning her reasons for cancelling, saying they don’t believe her claims that Covid and ‘delivery delays’ would require her to cancel all 24 nights and postpone them for months.

The songstress wrote that the dates for her residency — which would have started on January 21 and run through April — would be rescheduled 

Mary Clare Donahue traveled to Vegas from Illinois with her family for the show. They were already in Vegas when it was canceled. Now, she says shortening the trip will cost them even more 

Gillian Rowland-Kain, 32, was already on her flight to Las Vegas from New York with her twin sister when she found out about the cancellation via social media.

The attorney from Brooklyn said: ‘I was furious that Adele waited so last minute to make this call. I recognise it’s not a call any artist wants to make but she would’ve known yesterday that the show wouldn’t be ready by tomorrow. Her lack of notice is astounding. I’m angry and frustrated’.

Thomas Wright flew from South Carolina for the opening night with a friend for the opening night. He told MailOnline that they spent $445 on each ticket, $1,600 on flights and hotel as well as $100 on Covid tests. They also spent $400 each on new outfits.

He said: ‘I know I will not be able to get off of work to come back, I know I wouldn’t be able to afford to come back. This trip has been a collection of Christmas and birthday gifts plus saving for myself.’

Another fan, Gabriel, flew into Vegas from Quebec, Canada, and found out when they arrived in Nevada.

He told MailOnline: ‘We lost a large sum of money on plane tickets and hotels to come see her for nothing, pretty unacceptable that a multi-million dollar production team could pull the rug on the people who flew and risked getting Covid to see her because her ‘show’ wasn’t ready.

‘She is known for her voice not for her performances, for all I care I would’ve just enjoyed her sitting on a bench singing. Absolutely unacceptable, they have not mentioned anything about compensation for the travel expenses we had’.

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