Groban Thrills Fans With Dramatic Range
August 14, 2007
Concert Review: Groban, Josh
MTS Centre, Winnipeg - August 12, 2007

For the second time this year, MTS Centre fans were treated to a night at the pop-era yesterday, this time courtesy of adult-contempo sensation Josh Groban.

But unlike his Armani-clad predecessors in Il Divo -- who turned in a bloodless performance at the same venue back in April -- Groban actually delivered on the promise of his top-selling CDs, treating the crowd to a two-hour spectacle with enough dramatic range to match his spine-tingling baritone.

Groban, whose doe-eyes and tousled surfer-curls make him look like Shia LeBeouf's better-dressed older brother, possesses a full-throated instrument that can bring women to their knees, which is pretty much what he's been doing since David Foster hauled him out of school to duet with Celine Dion.

Last night was no exception, as the 26-year-old lent his impassioned pipes to a series of appropriately epic (and only occasionally schmaltzy) tracks, most culled from his 2006 album Awake.

Opening with You Are Loved (Don't Give Up), Groban made it clear he'd be doing more than just striking male-model poses, racing from one end of the stage to the next while a seven-piece backing band and a 14-member orchestra kicked the song into high gear.

The Italian number Mai -- with its sweeping strings and timpani crashes -- provided an even better showcase for Groban's octave-straddling abilities, as did the multi-culti follow-ups Un dia Llegara and Un Giorno por Noi (the theme from Zeffirelli's Romeo and Juliet).

Groban even acknowledged the "cheeseball" quotient in some of his lyrics, recalling a conversation he had with a girlfriend about the lyrics to So She Dances.

"I was like, 'Spinning between constellations and dreams?'" he laughed while making a face. "Really?" By the time Groban got around to the stirring hit In Her Eyes, he was drenched in a layer of sweat, but that didn't stop him from getting up-close-and-personal with his floor-level fans, many of whom were shocked to find the singer serenading them from just inches away.

Let's see those Il Divo dudes top that.

Earlier, Canuck R&B diva Deborah Cox delivered a half-hour set of standards from Destination Moon, her recently released tribute to Dinah Washington. Resplendent in a shimmery silver evening gown, Cox gave the torch-song treatment to such jazzy gems as What a Difference a Day Made and Smoke Gets In Your Eyes, before closing with a stripped down version of her dance smash Nobody's Supposed to Be Here.