Josh Groban Keeps Audience 'Awake' and Riveted
The Heights
March 15, 2007
By Joseph Neese
If it is possible, Josh Groban's rich baritone voice sounds even better in person than it does on a disc. His Awake tour, which made a stop at the TD Banknorth Garden March 1, is a delectable treat.

Groban, who got his start as a musical theater actor, attended the Los Angeles County High School for the Arts. After graduating as a theater major, he studied drama at Carnegie Mellon University for a year until he signed with Warner Bros. Records. The singer, who has expressed a strong desire to return to the theater, performed on Broadway in the 2003 Actors' Fund Chess concert. It's this background that gives him such a powerful presence on the stage when performing and talking with his audience. He was able to think on his feet and improvise with each situation that arose, interacting with the audience and delivering quality jokes.

Highlights of the evening were his opening number, "You are Loved (Don't Give Up)" and his rousing finale, "You Raise Me Up," which he performed dressed in a Boston Bruins jersey with the help of a backup choir.

True to form, however, the most touching moment of the entire night was a stirring rendition of Stephen Sondheim's "Not While I'm Around" from his musical Sweeney Todd, which Groban recently performed at Barbara Cook's debut concert at the Metropolitan Opera House. With his voice, Groban brought to life the character of Sweeney Todd and captured the intimacy of the song, as he sat in front of the audience and performed with only a grand piano and his voice.

Aside from being commanding and witty, Groban lent a hand to his luscious orchestra, on the drums, piano, and more. Featured soloists in the orchestra included the phenomenal cellist Colette Alexander and the principal violinist Lucia Micarelli, who caused the crowd to erupt after a moving solo performance. Both are Groban fixtures, having toured with him previously.

Groban once again graced Boston with his presence and will hopefully continue to many, many times in the future. A