Adele enjoys new fame, a nice drink

Adele Adkins wants a beer. Badly. But Britain’s brassiest new soul stylist is well aware of her limitations.

“I love Stella Artois, Kronenbourg and a nice pint of Hoegaarden sometimes, too, and I really want to start drinking, right now,” says the plus-sized vocal powerhouse. And it’s not that the lager would rust her pipes, she adds: “It’s just that once I start drinking, I don’t stop.”

On her Columbia debut “19,” Adkins — who bills herself as simply Adele — displays the seasoned chops of a Stax-Volt veteran, even though she penned the torchy set when she was only 19.

She’s come a long way in one year. Havingjust won a Brit Award, she celebrated her 20th birthday May 5 by playing two sold-out shows at London’s sprawling Shepherd’s Bush Empire, then holding her private blowout bash there. She plays the more intimate Bimbo’s in San Francisco on Thursday night.

Along with that room-filling voice, she wields an unusually candid wit as well, coming clean on every last detail of her meteoric overseas rise.

Cigarettes? Adele loves them, currently clocking in at a pack a day, down from her previous two-pack habit.

Her living situation? She’s still at home, paying her mother $700 rent.

Her big signing advance? She blew it all on Burberry fashions — new coats, shoes, dresses. All the swag companies offered once disgusted her, she adds. “But now I can’t turn it down — I just can’t help myself. PPQ, Clinique, Bobbi Brown makeup. I’m sooo bad. They even gave me a $140,000 diamond-encrusted watch at the Brit Awards, but I can’t wear it, ’cause where I live is so rough that if I walked out of my house with it, everybody would be like, ‘Oi! You! C’mere!’”

So don’t be fooled by loved-and-lost “19” paeans like “Daydreamer,” “Best for Last” and “Chasing Pavements.”

Yes, they were all written about one fickle beau, says Adele, who idolizes Etta James. “But I don’t think I’m some old soul, even though my music sounds mature. I feel very much my age. I’m quite immature sometimes, I ignore things, I’m horrible at talking about my feelings to people, and I absolutely hate confrontation. And that’s why I write songs; otherwise it’d all build up inside me and just explode.”

The singer’s approach is drawing comparisons to that of the ill-fated Amy Winehouse. Adele may like to drink, but not that much.

She says, “So I hope I don’t crack up. But it’s a deathtrap, this work. The shows are amazing, but in between, waiting from sound check to going onstage? There’s all this hang-about time, where you’re so bored you’re willing to do anything to have a laugh. And I’ve seen what can happen. …”

IF YOU GO

Adele

Where: Bimbo’s 365 Club, 1025 Columbus Ave., S.F.

When: 9 p.m. Thursday

Tickets: $15

Contact: (415) 474-0365 or www.ticketweb.com

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