Date / Venue: Saturday April 30th, 2016 - Vector Arena, Auckland
Tonight’s mission was simple, Josh Groban. The man, the myth, the legend. Cut from the same cloth as Bublé, when Groban is in town you lock away your daughters, your mothers and your wives.
Vector Arena was the location and tonight it was the lion’s den and I was Daniel. A 30-something year old man on his own in a cougar town of middle aged oestrogen, I was a deer in headlights, waiting for its inevitable demise...This could’ve been my obituary, but before the felines of death could pounce and claim their prey, he entered the stage, all confidence, all showman, all American and when those silky notes flowed from his bearded mouth, I once again felt safe. The hunters were distracted and I too was able to safely admire the effortless talent of a man I in fact knew little about, apart form a couple of key tracks that have been butchered by American Idol contestants over the years, his appearances on talk shows and the odd cameo in romantic comedies. I guess he could be described as the modern Harry Connick Jr. in his ambitions to dabble in both stage and screen.
The stage was a classic setting, a single piano to one side and a microphone in the centre. A lonesome figure takes his place behind the ivory keys and begins the familiar notes from Willy Wonka's, Pure Imagination. A second shadowy figure enters the stage and takes his place behind the centred mic and that voice soothes forth, a voice that could make a honey badger weep, even the most hardened feminists in the audience forced out a sigh, and I too was made to sit upright in admiration of the warming baritone/tenor range and ease of execution. At the crescendo of the piece, the curtains pulled aside to reveal the orchestra and other back up musicians. I’ve said it once and ill say it again... you just cant beat being there live, hearing these true performers sing is one thing, watching them is another. His control is second to none.
Groban performed a selection of songs from his latest album 'Stages', an album of tracks that influenced him through his life from the stage and screen.
Cabaret, Chess, Phantom of the Opera and others were all given the treatment and to great effect, beautifully orchestrated and brought to life by a master and his support crew. Tonight was rather special as a majority of his backing artists were from right here in Auckland, including the 20 odd piece orchestra and the similarly sized choir that accompanied him during a few of the power ballads.
He was also accompanied by guests from the Australian production of Phantom of the Opera - Claire Lyon, and a young 18 year old trumpet player from the University of Auckland who will be giving Miles Davis goosebumps with his remarkable jazz talent.
In between musical numbers, Groban entertained the masses with anecdotes form his early career, growing pains and inspirations; he has a good sense of humour and isn’t above making a fool of himself - just to prove he is indeed human.
This was a solid night out for most and no one was left disappointed as he belted out his signature tune You Raise Me Up for his encore. The following standing ovation was indeed well deserved.
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