Fans Swoon Over Josh Groban
April 12, 2004
By Chris Varias
Josh Groban has the kind of powerful singing voice that could hold a theatre full of his fans at attention no matter how simple the musical accompaniment or stage production.
Saturday at the Aronoff Center's Procter and Gamble Hall, the 23-year-old classical-pop sensation chose to go the other direction, and still his voice easily held up to two hours' worth of big arrangements from a 15-piece orchestral-rock band.
And Groban's personality stood up to the smoke machines, video screens, dramatic lighting and other Celine Deion-goes-to-Vegas-style show elements.
The Los Angeles native's rise to stardom began in 2001, when he performed "To Where You Are" on an episode of the TV show Ally McBeal that was dedicated to 9-11.
Since that time, Groban has established himself as male equivalent to Dion, a multilingual singer prone to over-the-top performance who can stir a crowd belting in a Romance language or English.
That was exactly the case at the Aronoff, as a sold-out room of 2,600-plus (many female admirers of all ages), swooned to his Italian, Spanish and English renderings.
"To Where You Are" was one of several English-sung highlights of the show, as was "Broken Vow", one of the big-production numbers in which he delivered the melodramatic ballad while standing atop a moving set of stairs like a singing superhero.
During "Let Me Fall" a see-through screen divided stage and audience, while vague images of what looked like ancient ruins flickered upon it. Behind the screen, Groban could be seen climbing a staircase, as if a man lost in song on an archeological dig, which may have not been Groban's intention. The song ended with Groban falling backward from the top of the staircase into the dark, triggering oohs and ahs from the crowd.
The best moments were both light on production and musically simple. The Italian-sung "Caruso" was a stirring, introspective look at the life of a performer, with the lyrics translated to English and projected on a screen to drive home the message.
Groban stood and sang for most of the show. But it was when he sat at a baby grand piano to sing "Remember When It Rained" that he delivered what was by far his strongest vocal performance of the night, earning a standing ovation.