Groban Proves Why He Has Widespread Appeal
Green Bay Press-Gazette
February 23, 2005
By Thomas Rozwadowski
Finally, teenagers and the elderly have something in common besides belly button rings.

OK, bad example.

In all seriousness, Josh Groban’s sold-out show at the Resch Center on Tuesday night was much more than a foreign language lesson from a talented heartthrob who crosses generational lines with equal appeal.

For the poster boy of classical pop to repeatedly lift 65-year-old women from their seats for enthusiastic ovations is an accomplishment in itself. But for fans of all ages to wave glow sticks in the air during Groban’s impassioned performance of “You Raise Me Up” reveals something special about his widespread popularity among those looking for more than a sculpted six-pack from today’s young insta-stars.

The reigning prince of popera had the audience at hello — 13-year-olds with braces, 28-year-olds with cell phones, 80-year-olds with walkers. Every single admirer would have lunged to the floor in a mad scramble for one of his curly locks.

Two giant screens projected every shimmering smile, and the adoring crowd responded for roughly two hours with enough gushing sentimentality to make Dr. Phil blush.

It was during those moments of unscripted crowd euphoria that Groban performed best. The soon-to-be 24-year-old displayed the stage presence of a “rock star” veteran — of which he pointed out he wasn’t — by accepting the feverish praise with one-liners that can only be described as a full-on comedy routine.

When a woman seated in the front offered the fresh-faced phenom a “King of Grobania” T-shirt complete with a Cheesehead crown, Groban soaked it all in, kindly accepting a second fan’s giant-size Hershey’s candy bar moments later before ripping into it and sharing some with another audience member.

Judging by his level of playfulness, admitting to the crowd that he wasn’t “used to playing arenas” could have come across as nothing more than good guy posturing from a “humble’’ mega-star. But it’s that type of sincerity and expressiveness that makes Groban such a successful draw in both the adult contemporary and pop world.

Well, that and the powerful music, which was aided on most numbers by a full band and string section. Of that accomplished group, the non-Groban showstopper was diminutive violinist Lucia Micarelli, who was so alarmingly good during a roaring rendition of Queen’s “Bohemian Rhapsody,” she might be headlining sold-out tours herself someday.

In the end, all the insufferable melodrama that precedes Groban’s reputation was wiped away by casual renditions of Don McLean’s “Vincent” and Paul Simon’s timeless “America.” Yes, even the most jaded music critic can’t help but give props to a kid for filling a niche that obviously begs to be filled.

By the time he strutted out his final trick of the night — a Green Bay Packers jersey that humorously made him look like a free-agent placekicker — the crowd had fully accepted him as a native son.

No need to remind the folks with a No. 1 on the back, Josh. After all, you’re King of Grobania.

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