Groban's Pop-opera Wows All-ages Crowd
July 29, 2004
By Keith Powers
Twenty-three-year-old Josh Groban can boast 10 million CDs sold, a rocketing reputation and a gaggle of chat room-loving fans - Grobanites - who span the generations. And the girls-to-grandmas gang that packed the Tweeter Center in Mansfield on Tuesday evening loved every note of his pop-opera set.
Groban keeps it simple: small string orchestra stage right, funksters stage left, the star in the middle. Groban's hirsute good looks and slacker.com outfit set everyone at ease.
The songs came from his two discs, easy opera in a bunch of different languages coupled with originals and arrangements from writer/producer/mentor David Foster. Groban has the gift: He's a facile tenor, artful phraser and possessor of a nifty clear tone. The performance was strong from the get-go: A classy ``Per Te'' segued sweetly into ``To Where You Are,'' the song that gave Groban his first big break in 2001 when he sang it on ``Ally McBeal.''
Each of the dozen or so offerings were delivered with the same effortless grace. Both his string band and his rockers played smartly when they got the chance. By the time Groban closed with ``You Raise Me Up,'' his latest single from the chart-topping CD ``Closer,'' the Grobanites were putty in his hands.
The only thing suspect about Groban is his vocal power. Whenever he sang, his stagemates were so low in the mix that they might as well have been playing out on the Tweeter Center lawn. Covering up for tiny pipes? Maybe, maybe not. But Groban has plenty of musicianship to capitalize on his sound once he grows into it.
Berklee-trained saxophonist/singer Mindi Abair opened with a sexy, swinging set of jazzy funk originals.
(Josh Groban with Mindi Abair, at the Tweeter Center, Mansfield, Tuesday night.)