Groban Continues Love Fest With Fans
Syracuse Post Standard
April 29, 2004
By Mark Bialczak
Josh Groban saved the most delicious moment for last Wednesday night at the Landmark Theatre.

The 23-year-old singer, who's made it so big with his operatic style that he was invited to play at this year's Super Bowl, came back for his second encore, sat all by his lonesome behind the piano and played some simply gorgeous Simon & Garfunkel. And Groban wrapping that rich voice around Paul and Art's classic storytelling landscape "America" surely was a memorable new slice of Americana.

The capacity crowd obviously went out into the rainy Syracuse night happy.

The 2,800 souls seemed thrilled about everything Groban did on stage.

Mostly women of all ages, with a couple of supportive significant others thrown in on just about every row, the fans screamed when Groban entered the stage on the highest riser, shaking his slightly tousled hair just a bit and looking sharp in his black suit.

Even thoughGroban had canceled his scheduled performance in Richmond, Va., just two nights earlier because of a sore throat, he didn't let his fans down.

"Syracuse, N.Y. Wow. I'm excited," Groban said. "It took me long enough to get here. Finally. We just felt we had to get to Syracuse. There was just too much love and excitement here."

The ardor and enthusiasm flew out from the crowd in the form of shouted declarations of love, twirled Glo pens and several standing ovations.

In turn, Groban delivered a handful of his foreign language hits, the English-language 9/11 tribute song "To Where You Are," which first got him discovered as a recurring character - who sang, thankfully - on the Fox TV series "Ally McBeal," and the popular material that followed on his self-titled debut album and last year's follow-up, "Closer."

"Caruso," from the latest album, was a thing of beauty as Groban delivered the famous Italian song from the highest riser with an English translation beamed on the stage-wide screen behind him.

"Alejate," the Spanish song from his first disc, allowed guitarist Tariqh Akoni to flourish with the Romantic lilt.

Akoni, pianist Zachary Provost, bassist Eric Holden, drummer Craig MacIntyre and percussionist Tim Curle lushly backed Groban up the whole night. A 14-piece orchestra took everything very seriously, too.

But the musician starof the evening was concertmaster and solo violinist Lucia Micarelli.

Micarelli didn't just play the violin; she made music with it. As she was moving barefoot on the stage, her big, bold, expressive body movements showed how much she was into the beautiful sounds coming out of her violin and drew the crowd deep into her reverie.

She ended a solo instrumental by crossing over to the band's side of the stage for a rousing, rocking rendition of Queen's classic "Bohemian Rhapsody." Mamma Mia, indeed.

Micarelli's working on her first solo album. On stage, she has enough charisma to shine in the center spotlight herself.

But even with all the embellishment, with Groban, his voice is the main character. When he declared he loved a song since he started singing seven years ago, you had to sit up and take notice that he's a performer who's come far, fast.

Groban showed how he's maturing on "Remember the Rain," a song he co-wrote. He played piano while he sang strong and true.

The star seemed to enjoy chatting with the crowd, too. He's not yet to the point where he's slick, and that tiny bit of self-consciousness is endearing.

Before the pretty and tender "Broken Vows," he declared, "I love sad songs. I think sad songs are great."

For the last song of the second set, the Corcoran High School Chorus joined Groban for the final chorus of his latest hit, "You Raise Me Up." Their voices were sweet, but their performance was too short.

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