The soul superstar was invited to honour the memory of the late Faith hitmaker, and took the stage at the Staples Center in Los Angeles to perform a reworked version of George's 1996 song Fast Love.
However, Adele was hit with sound problems moments into the performance and halted the music.
"I know it's live TV, I'm sorry, I can't do it again like last year," she said, referring to the audio issues which almost derailed her 2016 Grammys rendition of All I Ask.
After letting slip an expletive, which producers managed to censor just in time for the live broadcast, Adele continued, "I'm sorry for swearing, and I'm sorry for starting again... I'm sorry, I can't mess this up for him.
"Can we please start again? I'm sorry, I'm really sorry."
The singer looked disappointed in herself for the tribute setback, but the star-studded crowd made it clear Adele had their support as they cheered her on to restart the tune.
She managed to pull off the slowed-down version of Fast Love at her second attempt, but still appeared downcast, even as the audience gave her a standing ovation at the end of the track.
Her performance was followed by one of the night's oddest collaborations as Lady Gaga hit the stage with Metallica. Dressed in high-heeled, knee-length boots, short shorts and a cropped Metallica T-shirt, the Poker Face star returned to her heavy metal roots as she sang with the band's frontman James Hetfield.