Romantic Groban Sweeps His Fans Away
The Wichita Eagle
May 7, 2004
By Chris Shull
The enthusiasm over singer Josh Groban's appearance in Wichita on Thursday night was not confined to the Kansas Coliseum, where he performed.

A couple of miles away -- and a couple of hours before showtime -- 60 fans, known as Grobanites, gathered to gush over Groban and raise money for his charity.

Fans of the 23-year-old singer are a passionate lot, and several attending the fan club gathering came from as far away as Dallas.

"I've never been obsessed with anyone in my whole life," said Carol Molloy, 55, from Lenexa. "Just the feeling he conveys with his voice -- the romance and the love and the lost love. And he is a very attractive young man."

Fans at the Kansas Coliseum were just as passionate.

Groban was met with screams and thunderous applause when he appeared, and after every song.

As the show began, he looked rather lonely, dwarfed by a stagewide video screen, one young man moving slowly down stairs and across the stage while 14 strings and a six-piece rhythm section accompanied him.

For all his popularity and seemingly secure fame, it is still easy to tell that Groban is rather new to the stage.

His performance, before 7,200 at the Coliseum, was among the first he has done in an arena. He sometimes looked a bit overwhelmed. He clutched the microphone tightly with both hands and stayed mostly stationary as he delivered his songs.

His banter between songs was sometimes rushed, as if he was nervous. But his youth -- his vulnerability -- is surely part of his draw, that and his fine baritone, which was sweet and focused and perfect for the Broadway stage.

The songs he sang Thursday, including "My Confession" from his latest CD, "Closer" and "To Where You Are," which he sang on a guest appearance on the TV show "Ally McBeal," were of the same formula. They proceeded at a funeral-like tempo with Groban belting out yearning, heartfelt lyrics in English, Spanish and Italian.

A change of pace would be nice; I imagine Groban could really swing if he was allowed to. But mostly his songs are "romantic," and they swept his fans away.

"I love his voice; I love the kind of music that he sings," said Allison Terry, 24, of Wichita. "And I'm not going to lie to you -- he is really, really cute."

Terry and Kristy Mishler, 24, of Wichita, organized the fan club party at the Best Western motel just south of the Coliseum. A raffle of Groban items -- handmade "Josh" bracelets and needlepoint pillows sporting pictures of the star -- raised $700, which will be donated to the Grobanites for Charity fund.

More than Groban's voice, or his looks, is his ability to inspire such devotion in so many fans. They responded to him Thursday; they hung onto his every word, which is the most any singer can ask.