All Grown Up
The Gazette (Montreal)
March 5, 2007
By Anne Sutherland
Fans of singer Josh Groban have watched the formerly gawky teenager
fill out to become a talented and multi-faceted performer

The boy has become a man.

Josh Groban, he of the youthful frame and booming voice, has matured in the past six years to a very talented and multi-faceted performer, and 10,367 fans at the Bell Centre last night would agree with me.

I first met Groban in 2001 when he was a mere 20 years old, shy and unassuming.

He's still an easygoing fellow, and proved this by signing autographs while he sang the Stephen Sondheim tune Not While I'm Around, as eager fans crushed the front of the stage.

Groban brought his Awake tour to the masses last night as part of a two-month tour of North America. He's filled out some from the formerly gawky teenager, but he still looked pretty hot to many of his female fans.

Mixing his signature Italian classic-pop operatic songs with some catchy South African influenced new hits, Groban seemed to be having the time of his life.

He rose from the floor of the stage with his first song, You Are Loved (Don't Give Up), to roars from the crowd and then launched into songs from all three of his albums.

His voice soared in the cavernous hockey arena, and every word and note was crystal clear.

Backed by a solid band, augmented by strings, brass and a harp provided by Montreal musicians, Groban gave a solid 19- song show that clocked in at almost two hours.

Some standouts were a duet on Pearls with opening act Angelique Kidjo and a clap along to his touching Weeping, complete with a photo montage behind the stage of scenes of racial violence in South Africa.

He performs Lullaby on Awake with Ladysmith Black Mambazo but last night a vocal synthesizer took the place of the African band.

So She Dances was a booming tour de force, and he hit all the right buttons with the local crowd performing Hymne A L'Amour in French.

His Italian version of the theme to the 1968 film Romeo and Juliet was enough to make you cry.

To his right was barefoot violin wizard Lucia Micarelli, who brought down the house with her solo that segued into a bow string snapping Led Zeppelin number. The girl can play and then some.

Groban loves Montreal and to the delight of the crowd announced he has just discovered Tetes a Claques. With his affinity for language, here's one American who actually gets the subversive comedy clips.

Bravo Josh, come back soon.