Review: Josh Groban
Salt Lake Tribune
August 29, 2007
By Michael N. Westley
After a two-year absence, Josh Groban returned to Utah and delivered a dazzling display of sound, lights and emotion.

His performance at the Energy Solutions Arena on Tuesday showed a polished and steady showman. The multi-platinum Grammy-nominated artist has the moves and crowd-carrying charisma down pat.

But beyond the tiered stage, orchestra and frilly lights lie the core of Groban's talent - that rich baritone voice that has captured the heart and envy of millions of fans

Groban rose through the floor to open the evening with, "You are Loved (Don't Give up)," much to the delight of the sold-out house of 12,000-plus people. Flanked on opposite ends of the stage by violinist Lucia Micarelli and cellist Vanessa Freeman Smith, Groban's voice soared. His presence on stage this time around - strong and confident - proved he has grown from a nervous amateur to an affable star.

Groban discussed his special relationship with Salt Lake City, noting his first arena show here and a performance during the 2002 Winter Olympics.

"Thanks for coming back and packing the place," Groban said.

Tuesday's show carried extra significance having been chosen to film the DVD of his the 2007 "Awake" tour.

"You guys are the ones who get to watch this show tonight and forever," said the 26-year-old California native. Performances from "Awake" included "February Song," "Un Dia Llegara" and "So She Dances," which Groban referred to as "very romantic."

An instrumental introduction from Micarelli and Freeman Smith led into "A Time for Us" (the love theme from Romeo and Juliet).

Of particular note was Micarelli's powerful Led Zeppelin solo, which masterfully blended pop and classical influences.

Throughout the evening, Groban interacted with the audience, walking through the crowd and playing to audience members close to the stage. His improvised chatter and personable manner made him feel accessible and warm - at one point accepting gifts from the crowd gathered at the foot of the stage.

A woman on the front row carrying a sign that read, "Roses are red, violets are blue, I want a hug, from only you," was granted her wish.

Groban sang the duet "Pearls," with opening act Angelique Kidjo, and continued in witty banter as Kidjo offered to teach Groban how to dance. A man moving his hips on stage in front of a few thousand females never fails to amuse.

"Lullabye," written with Dave Matthews during a trip to South Africa in which Groban met Nelson Mandela, was accompanied by an emotional speech explaining the power of his visit and the life of the the impoverished people he observed there.

Groban departed briefly from his operatic mainstay-style to sing the Sondheim classic, "Not While I'm Around," from the Broadway musical "Sweeney Todd."

"Machine" moved the crowed with a jazz-funk rhythm. Encore performances included a Groban-delivered drum solo and the familiar, "You Raise Me Up."

WHERE: EnergySolutions Arena, Salt Lake City.
WHEN: Tuesday.
BOTTOM LINE: A polished, personable and solid performance.