Groban Shines, Even in the Rain
Beaver County Times
August 8, 2004
By Scott Tady
His voice is flawless, his physique is fit, and his stage presence is friendly and poised.

Clearly, the world is Josh Groban's oyster, ready to be slurped.

Groban's latest CD, "Closer," topped the Billboard Top-40 chart in early January, helping him sell out--in near record time--Pittsburgh's Heinz Hall.

The 23-year-old pop-opera (or "popera") singer returned Wednesday to western Pennsylvania, treating about 8,500 rain-soaked fans to a savory concert at Post-Gazette Pavilion in Burgettstown.

Backed by a 20-piece orchestra, Groban soared through a one-hour-45-minute set that proved operatic music can rock, and not just because his ace violinist nailed, note-for-note, Brian May's guitar solo in "Bohemian Rhapsody."

Groban's voice is a marvel.

Whether singing in Italian, Spanish or good ol' English, Groban displayed complete command of his powerful pipes, never overreaching or faltering on any notes.

Once briefly enrolled in Carnegie Mellon University's theater department before quitting in quest of a music career, Groban displayed an easygoing charm Wednesday, often smiling and chatting warmly with his fans without getting schmaltzy or spewing cliches.

Groban isn't fidgety like Clay Aiken or uppity like John Tesh. Yet his songs like "Oceano," "Caruso" and "Remember When It Rained" seemed to appeal equally Wednesday to young women you'd expect to adore "American Idol" and baby boomers who look like they support PBS pledge breaks.

Two-thirds through his set, Groban delved into Don McLean's "Vincent." Groban's version was as elegant as the original, though it was ironic hearing him sing "Starry,starry night" as dark-as-ink rain clouds blotted out any celestial twinkling above.

Rain pelted the pavilion, with a wind-driven mist spraying people who mistakenly had assumed they were well-protected by the roof. Meanwhile, some 1,500 or so diehard "Grobanites" sat huddled under rain ponchos on the pavilion's lawn, refusing to leave their soggy sods of grass until Groban had concluded his enthralling show.