Groban shows off his pipes in English, Italian and sometimes Spanish with an incredible range that he makes look effortless. But with romance novel-esque lyrics like "when the setting sun surrenders to the moon, Mi querida, I wait for you," the songs may be best in whatever language one understands the least. Still, his fans would apparently be happy to hear him sing nursery rhymes in Urdu, as they screamed "I love you Josh" dutifully between songs, and gave him at least four standing ovations. There were audible sniffles during the you-done-me-wrong song, "Broken Vow."
Perhaps the most charming thing about Groban's stage presence is the sheer improbability of his status as a romantic figure. His brotherly face is a shock of pale skin against dark hair, and he has the self-conscious carriage and vanilla humor of a young, semi-hip fifth grade teacher. When he spoke, his voice barely resembled the powerful one that had just been shaking the gilded paint off the walls.
"I'm so goofy tonight, I don't know what it is," he quipped. "I had a Pixie Stick before the show."
Groban was backed by a fine band and mini-orchestra, highlighted by violin player, and up-and-coming star Lucia Micarelli. Barefoot and clad in a blazing red dress, she was given a few chances to play solo to great applause, including an annotated version of Queen's "Bohemian Rhapsody."
(A version of this story originally appeared in the Columbus Dispatch in April, 2004.)
These stories are © Tracy Zollinger Turner, and cannot be reprinted without her express, written permission.