Groban's Classy, Classical Show Rocks
Deseret Morning News
February 7, 2004
By Pat Reavy
There were no pyrotechnics. No synchronized 20-person dance routines. And, thankfully, no over-hyped "wardrobe-malfunction" fiascoes. They simply weren't needed.
Instead, Josh Groban let his golden baritone voice and music speak for itself during Thursday night's Delta Center performance. His blend of pop-classical music brought the sold-out crowd to its feet and had many in the audience screaming as loud as they would at any rock concert.
Opening with "Oceano," the former musical-theater major, wearing a black shirt, sport coat, pants and shoes, appeared on a platform elevated above the stage, as if suspended in air and in the middle of a wave, through a series of lighting and video effects.
Switching between English, Italian and Spanish lyrics, Groban went through his catalog of songs about love and lost love, including "Broken Vow" and the inspiring "To Where You Are" ("I love sad songs," he admitted to the crowd). His two-level stage included three staircases and a stellar backing band divided into two parts: a 16-member string section on one side and a five-piece "rock" section on the other.
Despite the sometimes weighty nature of his songs, the 22-year-old Groban, with his boyish looks and grin, was very personable and good-natured with the crowd, and seemed taken back at times by the response from the rabid legion of "Grobanites" in the audience.
"Well, this is fun," he said with a smile. Groban noted that it was a "dream come true" for him to perform an entire concert in Salt Lake City. He also performed during the closing ceremonies of the 2002 Winter Olympics.
Groban's Salt Lake show marked his return to the stage after an illness, which he caught after his performance at the Super Bowl ("What a circus," he said of the Super Sunday event). His voice didn't seem to be fully recovered, struggling slightly to hit the high notes — though he was still at 95 percent, which for Groban is still 100 percent better than the voices of many other pop stars.
Other highlights included "My Confession," "Il Postino (Mi Mancherai)," Don McLean's "Vincent (Starry, Starry Night)," "Caruso," "Per Te" and "Let Me Fall" complete with more special effects of, what else, Groban taking a 20-foot dive.
And to demonstrate that he wasn't just about old Italian love songs, Groban dipped into Linkin Park's catalog for a rendition of "My December." His band even touched on Queen's "Bohemian Rhapsody" during a brilliant violin solo.
Crowd favorite "You Raise Me Up," backed by members of the Judge Memorial High School Choir, brought the crowd out of their seats for a standing ovation to end the show. He returned for "Never Let Go" as his encore.