Josh Groban Fuses Pop, Soul, Folk, Opera Into Dynamite
Scranton Times Tribune
February 8, 2005
By Alexander Choman
Vocalist Josh Groban combined talents with jazz virtuoso Chris Botti to deliver a magnificent musical evening before a sold-out audience of 8,000 people Monday evening at the Wachovia Arena at Casey Plaza.

A Josh Groban concert is like a pop concert; and it's like an opera.

So can we call his music popra? Too trite? Maybe so, but there's nothing trite about this guy's concert performance. He is charming, he can sing and play music and the ladies seem to think he's handsome. Go figure.

Of course, I jest. Mr. Groban is a devilishly handsome 6-foot-something golden throated music machine. He is Julio Iglasias meets Barry Manilow. The result is an infectious blend of pop, soul, folk and opera music that is nothing short of superb.

Josh Groban constructs a playlist of inspirational pop songs with an operatic blend. When you combine Italian sung lyrics and a lush symphonic sound created by his fabulous orchestra the result is an evening of silky smooth, amorous music designed to capture the heart.

Lucia Micarelli serves as Mr. Groban's concertmaster and accomplished violinist on many of his songs and even sampled her debut recording "Music From A Farther Room." Ms. Micarelli an attractive, talented violinist whose performing flair is captivating.

Josh Groban's meteoric rise to popularity began with the release of his debut album in 2001. The recording went double-platinum, he had a PBS special and was off and running. His appeal is broad concertgoers on Monday evening ranged from 6 to 90 years old.

While Mr. Groban's voice falls somewhere between low tenor and high baritone, his delivery is richly distinctive. He belongs comfortably in the category of singers like Andrea Bocelli, Sara Brightman and Charlotte Church. Some pretty impressive company to be sure.

His transitional classical crossover many times seems in a class by itself.

Under Ms. Micarelli's direction, Mr. Groban's orchestra played magnificently during offerings like "To Where You Are" (featured on the television show Ally McBeal), "Alejate" and "Alla Luce Del Sole." Mr. Groban's stage was generously constructed with over two dozen players on the platform and three sets of Lucite steps leading to a rear stage walkway.

The stage was flanked by two huge video screens and some rather abstract backdrops dependent on large swatches of white fabric complemented by colored cloths entwined in spherical shapes hanging above the performers.

Opening act and horn virtuoso Chris Botti was nothing short of magnificent. Mr. Botti played selections from his highly successful latest recording "Why Don't We Fall In Love" which is currently atop the jazz charts.

Mr. Botti's all too brief set included selections from his albums like "Why Not" and "My Funny Valentine," which he ventured into the first few rows of the audience to play. Mr. Botti's horn exudes an intoxicating sound which flows in the finest tradition of some of jazz' greatest players.

Monday evening's concert at Wachovia Arena was a musical masterpiece painted by two of today's finest artists in two distinctively different genres. While the audience roared approvingly on each of Mr. Groban's pieces, they likewise gave Chris Botti equally deserved recognition.

This concert worked on every level from start to finish. And the audience certainly seemed to agree.