Monday, October 7, 2013
Josh Groban: Sleep Train Arena, Sacramento, October 6th 2013. What a voice, what a show!
Yesterday I had the guilty pleasure of hearing Josh Groban, live, in person, and "in the round". (His tour is called "In The Round": round stage, center of the audience; like theatre in the round, nothing is hidden, there is no curtain, no backdrop, nowhere to escape. There were screens high above the stage, so that everyone could see the action, even when Josh was facing the audience on the other side. And all the musicians made use of the walkway around the stage; performing directly to different sections of the audience. )
Why guilty pleasure?'Cos my kids rib me about listening to him, no end. Same way as they do with Celine Dion. Especially Dylan, who worked at Borders until it closed, shut down, and had to listen to Josh Christmas music over and over and over again for the four months or so prior to December 25th for several years.
But... he has one of the purest voices I have ever heard.
He opened the show last night with Brave, first song on his latest album, All That Echoes. The rest of the show was a mix of others from the new album and songs from earlier in his career, saving You Raise Me up and then a reak classic, Charlie Chaplin's Smile, for the encores.
Standing ovation. Much deserved.
Judith Hill joined Josh on stage for two duets: Remember When it Rained, and then later in the evening, The Prayer. (Note about Celine Dion above: she and Josh partnered on this song a while back.) And yes, both were wonderful.
I learned a few things last night; Groban's first public appearance as a singer was at Sacramento's Arco Arena (now Sleep Train Arena... where we were last night). He was on Ally McBeal (how did I not notice?), was supposed to play the wedding singer but then Robert Downey Junior lost his get-out-of-jail-free card, and we know what happened there...
As well as singing (and oh, that voice!), Josh has a confident and cheeky manner on stage. He jokes. Lead in to She Walks Through The Fair: "If I ever get married, I will sing this song to my wife... when I get married to one of you!" Pointing around the audience. He cracks up. Morphs into a Justin Beiber parody. Another: reads questions from members of the audience, plays games with their names. Makes fun of himself, the cameras all around, front and back. Promises "no twerking". I should hope not.
Vincent. When I Fall In Love. The Moon is a Harsh Mistress.
Oh, that voice!
He's not perfection. Like a beautiful Persian rug, you have to look (listen) for the imperfection. Deliberate, maybe, because only God, Allah, The Creator, whatever your faith, can be perfect. “A Persian rug is perfectly imperfect, and precisely imprecise.” I heard a couple of bum notes. I think... maybe. Slightly imperfect notes. Out of a whole evening.
I was lucky. I grew up in a time, and place, where Arts education was just part of public education. We had theatre classes, music classes, orchestra, choir, drama classes and lessons and clubs, all part of regular curriculum. Instruments provided by the school. All of it provided by the school, all of it part of everyday life from five years old until eighteen. It became a natural, ingrained part of my existance--and for many, if not most of my school friends. It's not that long ago, but a lot has changed. Today, the arts are often considered superfluous, unnecessary, an option. To me, they are as mandatory as mathematics. So I was very happy to hear about the Find Your Light foundation (previously known as the Josh Groban Foundation). Read the information, and you'll know why.
Josh Groban tours with a bunch of highly-talented musicians: Christian Hebel on violin, Dan Rosenblum on trumpet, Andre Manga on wonderful bass (loved that solo, Andre!), Dave Dicenso on drums, Tariqh Akoni, musical director and guitar, Ruslan Sirota on keys... who did I miss?
And now, I'm going to listen to All That Echoes. Again. Sorry, kids.
For more pictures from the show, and of the rest of the band, go to the full gallery: http://alisontoon.com/joshgroban. Or click on any of the pictures above.