Fine Pipes, By Josh, But Act Doesn't Sing
New York Daily News
April 3, 2004
By David Sprague
Think of squeaky-clean balladeer Josh Groban - a multiplatinum superstar in a sea of bared breasts and flung F-bombs - as an example of a law of physics.
He's the "equal and opposite reaction" Sir Isaac Newton placed alongside every action.
At the first of his three soldout Radio City shows on Thursday, Groban served his predominantly female audience an ample helping of musical-comfort food.
Groban's show brings back memories of the days when pop hopefuls nestled next to puppet shows and plate-spinners on the TV variety show circuit.
There's no doubting the power and purity of the 22-year-old singer's classic baritone, which he put to good use in a short first set largely given over to the multilingual pop-opera fusion that's dominated his first two albums.
But while Groban was easily able to vault the language barrier on "Un Amore per Sempre" and "Alejate," he had more trouble getting in touch with his inner entertainer.
Groban isn't much of a song-and-dance man, you see.
He makes up for that with a vulnerable, aw-shucks grin, flashed often enough to charm, but not so regularly that sugar-shock set in.
There's little pomp, little camp and, ultimately, precious little personality in his live act.
Until he performed a faux dive from a riser at the end of "Let Me Fall," his moves were limited to tentative trips up one of a series of staircases that flanked the Radio City stage.
A 20-minute intermission - probably appropriate, given the Broadway-like staging - seemed to recharge Groban's battery.
As he eased into a set at the piano, he slid into more fluid banter - some of it, like his explanation for turning in an orchestral version of Linkin Park's "My December," quite amusing.
Flashes like these suggest that, with a little effort, Groban could develop into more than just another pretty voice.