Josh Groban Displays All-ages Appeal
Lowell Sun
July 30, 2004
By Ed Hannan
MANSFIELD--The talent and accolades bestowed upon classically trained vocalist Josh Groban--he's performed at the Winter Olympics in Salt Lake City, the most recent Super Bowl, Oprah Winfrey's 50th birthday party, the television series Ally McBeal, and on the soundtrack to the movie Troy--obscure the fact that he is still only 22 years old. At times, he still shows traces of that youthful exuberance.

Take, for example, his pre-show meal of Gatorade and "lots of candy." That might explain why Groban felt "really goofy" during his 90-minute set Tuesday night at the Tweeter Center for the Performing Arts.

The sugar rush might have been necessary if only to give his body the fuel it would need to match the stunning power of Groban's calling card, his vocals. And those were duly represented in a show that culled from Groban's studio albums and some of his extra-curricular (i.e., movie and television soundtrack) work.

Two things to know about Groban: It helps to know Italian if you want to understand the lyrics to any of his operatic or classical numbers; and understand that he's impossibly adored by teenage female fans (and older ones, too), who can't help but scream, "We love you, Josh." That said, he's got the goods to back up the press clippings.

Groban performed with accompaniment from a 16-piece orchestra, a five-piece backing band, and even a brief cameo from the Scituate High School chorus, with standout performances from violinist Lucia Micarelli sprinkled throughout the evening.

He used the different ensembles to concoct a mélange of musical arrangements, including rock, pop, opera and classical. That ability to tactically deploy his voice in any number of ways has been his bread-and-butter up to this point, and he gave no evidence in his concert that it would change anytime soon.

Early highlights included the driving rock-orchestra number "Oceano" and "To Where You Are" (from Ally McBeal). Some of Groban's choices, such as "To Where You Are," "My December" and "Remember When It Rained," give evidence that he could be a successful soft-rock/adult-contemporary hitmaker.

He also mixed in some classics, including Don McLean's "Vincent (Starry, Starry Night)" and "Caruso," a ballad dedicated to opera star Enrico Caruso. He saved his biggest hit, "You Raise Me Up" (which he played just before the kickoff to the most recent Super Bowl) for the end of his main set, where he had the choral accompaniment.

Opening act Mindi Abair offered a 30-minute set of peppy tunes from her debut album, It Just Happens That Way, and her forthcoming album, Come As You Are, that seamlessly mixed pop melodies with a helping of jazz and R&B. In this era of young female jazz artists like Diana Krall, Jane Monheit, and even Norah Jones, Abair's set suggested a bright future for the sultry saxophonist.