Groban Is Known For His Voice, But His Hands Won This Concert
September 7, 2007
By Karen Cotton
Singer showed off his versatile talent with impressive piano and drum playing
Some things are better live.
Having listened to his CD countless times in preparation for an interview, I can attest that witnessing the complete Josh Groban in person was multitudes better than popping that disk into my car stereo.
The man's known for that world-class baritone voice, but it was his fingers that caught my eye during his Aug. 29 concert at the Pepsi Center in Denver.
Groban's ivory key talents were showcased as a piano ascended on a lift that became part of the stage.
He has that "geeky" persona, but he somehow transforms into a more sophisticated person who's in control as his fingers glide effortlessly up and down the piano.
The only bad part was his piano was turned where only the right hand side of the audience could see his hands. The position of the piano didn't allow the entire audience to witness the pianist at work. Instead, the majority of the audience interested in that aspect watched a screen above the stage.
And it was fascinating to watch Groban using his voice coder while performing the song "Lullaby."
It's an unusual piece of equipment not often seen in live settings. Instead of using a pre-recorded choral track, Groban used the coder to transform his single voice into that of the chorus.
The city of Cheyenne's Chief of Police, Bob Fecht, his wife, Barb and his daughter Emilee attended the Groban concert.
"I thought it was a good show," Bob said. "The music is very relaxing. I wish a little more of it was in English."
Groban's own songs on the "Awake" album are in English as are a few other of the selections. Some of his songs, though, are in foreign languages.
It is easy to tell that Groban's work is inspired by Andrew Lloyd Webber, Stephen Sondheim and John Williams as well as his world music influences.
Groban co-wrote several of his pieces, "February Song," and "Lullaby," with other respected artists including Dave Mathews.
Early on in the show, Groban joked that he would never be as good as his drum set player. But later on he surprised people by sneaking in a couple of drum solos on the set.
The instrumentalists in his band were equally unsurpassed. His percussionist as well as Kidjo's really stole the show as they kept the rhythm going with oddball percussion instruments.
Fecht said his daughters, Kasee, 27, and Emilee, 22, were in the Troopers Drum and Bugle Corps from Casper, the only competitive junior drum and bugle corps in the state of Wyoming.
They both have played instruments from the piano to the French horn, trumpet and the drums - the family appreciated the instrumental talent at the show.
"Those drummers, especially the guy on our end (Kidjo's drummer), - what tremendous energy," Bob said. "I enjoyed sitting and listening to the music because it was so alive."
Two of Groban's string players also are worthy of mentioning.
The violinist who tours with him, Lucia Micarelli, really rocked out on her violin. Check out her new CD, "Interlude." Groban's cellist, Vanessa Freebairn-Smith is equally talented.
Emilee scored some second row tickets for Groban's concert and is a member of his fan club.
She said she became a fan because of Groban's incredible music talent, but now the appreciation has moved on to his "good looking factor."
Emilee was able to shake Groban's hand and give him a baseball cap early in the show with a Cheyenne Frontier Days logo on it that commemorated the world's largest outdoor rodeo and live entertainment event.
Groban said in a Western drawl, that the hat would give him "hat head" too early on in the concert. He put it on his head and quickly put it next to a stool on the stage.
He later placed other fan's gifts there, such as a dog dish for his dog and a huge foam cowboy hat that he used as a prop while singing a Bon Jovi cover tune.
Emilee said that Groban probably doesn't even know what CFD is. She said she's sad that he doesn't keep the items, but said he will autograph that hat and the other fan items. They will be auctioned for his charity.
"I wanted to tell him that even though he was in Denver there were a lot of people who came from Wyoming to see him," she said.
Emilee's mother added that Groban would be a real classy act for CFD, especially since he has such a large fan base in the Front Range Region.
But in the end, Barb's request is not so much about CFD as it is about bringing Groban to her home town.
So what do you think, Groban, are you ready to come to Cheyenne and play with our Cheyenne Symphony Orchestra and area world musicians?
More on Josh Groban:
On Oct. 9 his "Noel" Christmas CD will be released.
The CD can be preordered at www.BarnesandNoble.com,
or at the Cheyenne Barnes and Book Sellers store.
Check other music outlets.
Josh Groban online: www.joshgroban.com.
More on Angelique Kidjo:
(Groban sings a duet with Kidjo on her new "Djin Djin" CD)
Violinist, Lucia Micarelli info:
Cellist, Vanessa Freebairn -Smith info: