29 July, 2011

TGIF...

Have a great weekend everyone...



A great article by Lauren Bans from GQ.


A killer role in the new Steve Carell flick has forced our brains to process this shocking truth: Josh Groban = damn funny

Josh Groban always seemed like a guy we would ignorantly lump in the nebulous galaxy of soft rock-crooning white guys beloved by housewives and elevator speakers. But this month he breaks out of the milquetoast mold with a seriously funny performance in Crazy, Stupid, Love as Emma Stone's boorish boyfriend—the most surprising cheeseball image-reversal since Michael Bolton killed it on "SNL" this spring. Oh, and we finally listened to Groban's music. Not so bad.

GQ: How in the world did you go about getting yourself cast in a romantic comedy?
Josh Groban: I went in for the audition and after one reading the casting director said, "Oh my god, you're just perfect." I was really excited for a moment, then it dawned on me: I just nailed the douchebag character. I could have used a few takes, maybe some notes to get me there. But no, I guess I had it in me all along.

GQ: So deep down you're really the cad who doesn't appreciate his smoking hot girlfriend type?
Josh Groban: No, I'm a nice guy. I just went really method and channeled all those people I've hated throughout my life. It was nice to play against type.

GQ: Too bad your first role was playing the guy Emma Stone realizes she's not in love with.
Josh Groban: I know. But we did get to kiss once, and for that alone, it was worth it.

GQ: That didn't make it in! Tell me about the kiss?
Josh Groban: At the end of one of our scenes the directors came up to us and said, "You know, this is feeling a little goofy. Let's just try to make this more believable with a kiss at the end." And I'm thinking, Holy shit. That wasn't in the script. I've never kissed on camera before. What does that mean? What do I have to do? I didn't take that class in college. And Emma's just this total pro. She pulls out her lip-gloss, and says, "It's cherry. That cool with you?" I mean, that kiss shall forever be my deer in "Stand By Me"; my moment alone, no one will ever be able to treasure it but me.

GQ: Except if it makes it onto the DVD extras.
Josh Groban: Yeah. Most likely the blooper reel.

GQ: I have to admit I'm not at all familiar with your musical catalog.
Josh Groban: Well, that's quite all right. I would venture to say I probably haven't read many of your articles, but this is the beauty of our business. Two become one. This world has brought us together.

GQ: I feel like you probably just quoted your own lyrics to me.
Josh Groban: [laughs] You'll have to find out.

GQ: What's a good starter song if I want to get into your music?
Josh Groban: My biggest blast-off hit was "You Raise Me Up." If you ever have a wedding or a funeral, it's a good pick

(Source)

28 July, 2011

Emma Stone Tastes Like Cherries...

Josh Groban's first taste of the movie industry tasted like … cherries?

While filming Crazy, Stupid, Love, his big-screen debut, the crooner ditched his nice-guy persona to play Emma Stone's bad-boy boyfriend – a comedic role that came with a little romance.

"After one of our scenes, the directors said, 'This is feeling a little goofy. Let's try this with a kiss at the end,' " the freshly minted actor, 30, tells GQ magazine. "And I thought, 'Holy s---! I've never kissed on-camera before. What do I have to do? I didn't take that class in college.' "

Luckily for Groban, "Emma's just this total pro."

He recalls of his first on-screen smooch, "She pulls out her lip gloss and says, 'It's cherry. That cool with you?' "

Although the shot didn't make the cut – maybe the "blooper reel," he cracks – he likened the scene with Stone, 22, to another pivotal film moment.

"That kiss shall forever be my deer in Stand by Me," he says. "It's my moment alone. No one but me will ever be able to treasure it."

(Source)

27 July, 2011

Boston Globe Review...

By Marc Hirsh
Josh Groban is so square that you could use him to draw up architectural plans, and he has a voice - suboperatic, chestily dramatic, borderline nasal, and almost entirely suffused with vibrato - that seems impossibly cheesy on the face of it. But those same characteristics can be awfully effective in the right settings, and he found more than enough of them last night at the TD Garden to make two hours move by rather briskly.

To be sure, there was plenty of ultra-earnest, overdramatic mush-pop on hand. “Per Te," “Galileo," and the eyes-closed, hand-to-the-heart pleading of “Alejate" were songs of not just romance but a particularly windswept, horsebacked romance. The supple, percussive, and full-throated “Alla Luce Del Sole" reached for the roof, and the acoustic guitar and mandolin of “If I Walk Away" couldn’t mitigate the overwrought band behind them.

But Groban also shone on more than a few songs that revealed surprising depth to his undeniable talent. He began the night at a piano on a satellite stage separated from his band, whose acoustic guitar, strings, and brass offered a lovely dimensionality to the opening “Changing Colors." The percussion swells and subliminal organ added to the mournfulness of “Bells of New York City," while “Machine" swayed to a late-’70s jazz-R&B groove, aided by electric piano and Groban himself pulling back a bit on his normally heavy vibrato.

Another mitigating factor was Groban’s easygoing demeanor, garrulous without any of the show-biz slickness of someone like Michael Bublé. When a woman told him, “My son gave you to me for Mother’s Day," he didn’t miss a beat in responding, “All right, I’ll see you later, then." He posed for a photo by a couple brought onstage, only to learn, after standing awkwardly for a while, that they were shooting video.

Best of all was when he accepted a text message invitation to sing “The Prayer" with an audience member’s sister, who had a rather lovely pop alto of her own. After trading lines, she and Groban ended with an unrehearsed but perfect harmony. Groban seemed as delighted as she was.

Opening pianist Eric Lewis called his music “rock-jazz," which was two lies. His solo instrumentals were saccharine and uninspired, with quasiclassical interpolations of popular favorites like “Teenage Dream" and “Mr. Brightside."
(Source)

Boston Herald review...

By Lauren Carter
Josh Groban isn’t provocative, edgy or sexy — at least not in the traditional sense. He appeals more to old-school sensibilities than modern norms of instant gratification, sensationalism and overstimulation.

His music — which ranges from easy listening to pop-opera — is wholesome, straight-laced and, some might say, cheesy. But in an era of overproduced and often soulless live shows where genuine personalities get lost behind pyrotechnics and wardrobe changes, the 30-year-old’s musical and personal honesty is refreshing, even if it doesn’t send pulse rates soaring.

Groban’s two-hour performance at TD Garden last night looked just shy of two-thirds full, highlighting a level of popularity — predominantly with older fans — that hasn’t quite sent him into the stratosphere. And he seems just fine with that.

The multi-lingual show featured Groban’s stunning baritone and mostly safe musical arrangements. The small orchestra that backed him ably recreated dramatic numbers such as “Oceano” and “War At Home,” but Groban offset the gravitas of his music with a goofy, get-to-know-me demeanor.

In between songs, Groban chatted with the ease of a daytime talk-show host, often jogging through the aisles and cozying up to fans. He recounted summer trips to Boston, shared tidbits about his love life, read text messages from the audience, sang “The Prayer” with a fan and promised to win over an 8-year-old in attendance.

“You guys smell awesome,” he said during one of his jaunts into the crowd.

Though much of Groban’s traditional, often-romantic fare felt like variations on the same theme, standouts included “Bells of New York City,” on which he played piano, “Machine,” the African-tinged “Weeping” and a cover of “Live and Let Die.” Show-closer “You Raise Me Up,” sans gospel choir (Groban encouraged the audience to fill in), just slightly underwhelmed. Still, Groban’s sober brand of music and total lack of pretentiousness proved a likable mix.

Opener Eric Lewis could have passed for a two- or three-man band, often plucking strings inside his grand piano with one hand while playing keys with the other. The virtuoso pianist mixed classical, jazz and popular theme songs (“Pink Panther,” for example) with rock hits such as Coldplay’s “Clocks” and the Rolling Stones’ “Paint It Black,” which transitioned seamlessly into the “Charlie Brown” theme and still made sense
(Source)

26 July, 2011

Mohegan Sun's Walk Of Fame...

Josh will be inducted into the Mohegan Sun's Walk of Fame at the Shops At Mohegan Sun, Spring Gatewayon Saturday, July 30th @ 5:45pm


From the Mohegan Sun website:

Mohegan Sun is honored to welcome talented performer Josh Groban as the newest member of Mohegan Sun's Walk of Fame. He will be the 24th entertainer to be awarded this distinction.

Mohegan Sun's Walk of Fame seeks to recognize those individuals who have made significant contributions to the success of Mohegan Sun as the Northeast's premier entertainment destination. All of the individuals inducted into the Mohegan Sun Walk of Fame will have their name engraved on a plaque that will be permanently placed at the entrance to Mohegan Sun Arena.

24 July, 2011

Ottawa review - Front Page Media...

By Leon T Switzer
Josh Groban hit the Scotiabank Place stage on Friday night, and did not waste any time paying his respects to his Canadian connections. The thirty year old American from L.A. was introduced to Grammy-winning producer David Foster at the age of 17, and with no recording experience, what better place to be. Foster had Groban singing with Celine Dion at the 1998 Grammy Awards and now almost 25 million in record sales later, this young man has the respect of the entire music industry.

A crowd of about 4000 was treated to one hell of an intimate show. The 2 stage set-up gave everyone a great view at one point or another, and he even pulled a young girl from the crowd to sing on stage with him. Camille must have had the time of her life singing cheek-to-cheek with Groban on the center stage. She recieved a standing ovation that extended all the way up to the 3 guys in the arena press-box.

Not only singing in 4 languages, Groban showed his versatility by pounding out a few drum solos. This show felt like it was at somebody’s house. A couple celebrating their 40th wedding anniversary were pulled up on stage and Josh served them wine, Californian no less.

There was still one missing piece of the puzzle that was saved for the encore. The song, You Raise Me Up. The best song I ever heard in that building was by Tim McGraw several years back when he sang, Don’t Take The Girl, this was a close second. Groban reminded me about the purity of the music without all the bells and whistles, the sound itself. He made me close my eyes and feel again.
(Source)

23 July, 2011

Ottawa Sun Review...

By Denis Armstrong of the Ottawa Sun.

Packed with charm
Groban plays his hits — and the crowd – with unconventional crossover act

As much as older listeners might enjoy them, musical crossovers get a bad rap as pop music’s equivalent to a happy meal, but at Scotiabank Place Friday night, the king of crossover Josh Groban crossed over indeed into ambitious and splendidly entertaining musical terrain with his latest and most ambitious album, Illuminations.

Judging by his superb show Friday night, it looks like the lanky 30-year-old did the right thing, teaming up with eccentric super-producer Rick Rubin, who’s worked with everyone from Slayer to Metallica.

Groban’s latest disc cuts loose some from the steady diet of operatic love songs to tackle riskier, but oddly satisfying exotics by Rufus Wainwright and Nick Cave. It makes for a pretty unconventional live gig too.

Stage at centre ice

Dressed in a T-shirt and jacket and runners and looking like one of the crew, a solitary Groban walked onto a small stage at centre ice while his travelling chamber orchestra on stage played an instrumental version of his title hit Straight To You.

At the piano, Groban opened with Changing Colors and February Song alone before flattering the nearly 5,000 fans — in French and English — about how beautiful Ottawa’s been before singing his big hit You Are Loved leaving women of all ages in a pool.

Accompanied by a small chamber orchestra including harp, two drummers and Spanish guitarist, Groban performed the love song Alejante, the first a many arty songs he’d sing in Spanish, Italian and French.

By now, Groban’s gig was settling into a comfortable rhythm, with the L.A. crooner masterfully singing as if he were the romantic lead in a Broadway musical. On one walkabout, after laying on the boyish charm again, he was kissed by two elderly women before getting a thumbs-up from a nine-year-old named Emma before speaking briefly about his recent move to New York City.

He moved to the piano for Bells of New York City, Hidden Window, Au Jardin Des Sans-Pourquoi — a song co-written with Rufus Wainwright and Kate McGarrigle.

War At Home and a high-octane orchestral version of McCartney’s Live and Let Die was next with Groban playing the drums on Voce Existe Em Mim before answering tweeted questions from the audience, including a request from one fan named Camille to sing Groban’s When You Say You Love Me with him.

Glass of wine

She was good enough a singer, that she clearly upstaged an impressed Groban, who handed her the microphone.

“That takes balls,” Groban joked afterwards.

It takes balls to bring fans he met earlier on stage, pouring a couple married 40 years a glass of wine, something milder for that nine-year-old Emma before singing Broken Vow, a soaring Per Te and a cover of Neil Diamond’s classic Play Me and his encore You Raise Me Up.

You certainly get your money’s worth with Groban.

He has one of the most beautiful baritone voices in all pop, one that just doesn’t quit, is an inexhaustible performer, is just so damn likable, and doesn’t do the usual arena rock show.

Groban’s made it safe to do crossover pop again.

Opening the show was jazz and sol pianist extraordinaire ELEW, a laid-back guy who’s talent for playing the piano in unusual ways, playing The Police hit Every Breath You Take with My Favourite Things at the same time.
(Source - check the link to see some great pictures from the show)

Ottawa Citizen Review...

By Bruce Ward, The Ottawa Citizen
REVIEW - Josh Groban - Scotiabank Place
Reviewed Friday, July 22
javascript:void(0)
OTTAWA — Josh Groban, the master of operatic pop, was nowhere in sight when his concert began Friday night at Scotiabank Place.

In a graceful gesture, he gave the main stage to the string and horn sections of his 13-piece band. They serenaded the crowd of about 5,000 — a smallish turnout, given Groban’s massive popularity — with an instrumental version of the singer’s Straight To You.

Only then did Groban pop up on a smaller stage on the arena floor, playing piano and crooning Changing Colors, a song he got from Great Lake Swimmers, a Canadian band.

Next, Groban turned to February Song and You Are Loved (Don’t Give Up). Both were greeted with loud applause followed by rapt attention, as if the crowd’s senses were swamped by the beauty of Groban’s voice.

One highlight of the show was Groban’s breathtaking Au Jardin Des Sans-Pourquoi — a song written by Montreal’s Rufus Wainright and his mother, the late Kate McGarrigle. It’s a standout track on Groban’s latest album Illuminations, produced by Rick Rubin.

Later, Groban showed his versatility, taking over the drums for a crack instrumental version of You Only Live Twice, the James Bond movie theme.

Groban’s baritone is like a suburban family van tricked out with a Mercedes engine. When he steps on the gas, so to speak, the ladies swoon.

He comes across like someone you might see at the coffee shop — a regular guy who happens to have a voice like an angel.

Groban bounded into the crowd several times, slapping palms and holding short conversations with several fans.

“You smell awesome, Ottawa,” he said at one point. “I love how you’re always polite.”

Groban chose a young woman named “Camille” from the audience and brought her on stage to sing When You Say You Love Me with him.

“That takes balls,” he said when she finished. The crowd responded with huge applause.

Early in the set, Groban moved to Mediterranean-style balladry, singing Oceano in Italian and then Alejate in Spanish.

For an arena pop star, Groban’s enunciation is a marvel. You can actually hear and understand the words he sings, although at times the cavernous rink did muddy the band’s sound.

Lyrically, some of Groban’s material is as sappy as maple syrup. Remember how hippies would hold a lighted match aloft in tribute at Grateful Dead shows?

The equivalent for Grobanites would be holding up a slice of white bread.

Groban was dressed in California casual — blue jacket, jeans and white running shoes.

Over the course of his 20-song set, he drew from his four million-selling albums.

Whatever language he sang in — English, French, Italian, Spanish, — Groban gave his fans exactly what they came for — glossy high-end pop sung with grace and genuine feeling.

Pianist Eric “Elew” Lewis who opened the show is Groban’s polar opposite.

Standing at the piano, he played mostly pounding music he calls “rockjazz.” His version of Sweet Home Alabama included a brief snatch of — possibly — Twinkle, Twinkle, Little Star.

Elew then took the Stones’ Paint It, Black out in the alley and beat it senseless.

He delivered a cool take on the Gilligan’s Island theme — but if wasn’t one Ginger or the professor would readily recognize.

Elew also worked bits of Erik Satie and Scott Joplin’s ragtime gem, The Entertainer, into his short set.

The Scotiabank audience mostly seemed nonplussed by Elew’s energetic performance.

It was as though he was serving Red Bull to mint tea drinkers.

Read more: http://www.ottawacitizen.com/life/Review+Groban+performs+with+feeling/5147541/story.html#ixzz1SuU9YNhs
(Source)

Crazy, Stupid, Love. TV Spot #12...





Crazy, Stupid, Love...

22 July, 2011

Co-hosting Live with Regis & Kelly (again)...

Set the DVR's: Josh is co-hosting LIVE! with Regis and Kelly from 9am on August 1st.


This will be just before his show at the Prudential Center, Newark on August 2nd.

(Source)

21 July, 2011

Emma Stone interview - Crazy, Stupid, Love...

Emma talks about Josh (0:19 to 1:02)

I like to call Josh Groban, "Golden Grobes".

Because he was phenomenal. I had no idea, he's so funny and he's so great at improv - and he came up with the greatest stuff, um, just off the cuff, and I had no idea.

I think as a suitor, Richard, his character, is um, he's kind of a boring guy. He's a pretty, I mean, so sweet, and there's probably a lot of girls out there that would be all about Richard. But Hannah is a little wilder than she's allowing herself to be. I think she's fallen into this path and she's kind of settled.



(Source - Trailer Addict)

Review - London, Ontario

By Joe BelangerR, The London Free Press
Josh Groban is more than a pretty voice.

And Tuesday night at the John Labatt Centre, the 30-year-old classical crossover artist showed why he sells millions of records and draws near-capacity crowds every time he performs.

From the opening instrumental, Straight to You, featuring brass and string quartets, the Los Angeles-born star — whose records have sold more than 21 million copies worldwide since the release of his first self-titled album in 2001 — seduced the audience with selections from four of his five studio albums.

Groban suddenly appeared in the centre of the arena playing piano to a startled audience, his beautiful voice filling the cavity, stirring emotions in the adoring crowd with his cover of the Canadian band Great Lake Swimmers’ Changing Colours.

London was the second of four stops in Eastern Canada in the 52-city Straight To You Tour and it’s clear he’s in mid-tour shape as he wooed the audience with the voice and personality that just won’t quit.

When he introduced the song, You Are Loved (Don’t Give Up) from the album Awake, the audience roared its approval, then fell silent, not wanting to miss a note of the powerful song in which Groban visits his entire vocal range, from high baritone to falsetto. That was followed seamlessly by the darker, dramatic Oceano from the album Closer.

On the main stage with his 13-piece band, Groban never let the crowd think he’d forgotten about them, often stopping to tell stories. As beautiful as the music was, it was a casual affair with Groban dressed in black jacket, tight jeans, white shirt and running shoes.

There were tears falling when he sang the Spanish-language ballad, Alejate, from his debut release.

The tour is in support of his latest disc, Illuminations, which rose to No. 4 on Canadian charts, continuing his decade-long climb to become one of the most popular cross-over singers of all time.

Groban has a reputation for his humour and relaxed concerts, often interacting with his audiences, taking and responding to text messages and bringing people on stage. He didn’t disappoint his London fans, the vast majority women.

Near the end, he invited a couple celebrating their 14th anniversary onto the stage, along with a 12-year-old girl, and a second, older couple married 50 years to sit on inflatable couches to drink wine and milk. Once everyone was comfortable, Groban sat on a stool.

“I’m going to sing a song about cheating,” he said, sparking a big laugh before breaking into the sombre Broken Vow, backed by a sensational trumpet solo, before jumping into Per Te, also from Closer.

The two-hour concert ended with two encores, Neil Diamond’s Play Me and his first hit, You Raise Me Up.

Opening for Groban was self-described rockjazz pianist ELEW (Eric Lewis), whose energy and stylings on the ivories won enthusiastic applause from the crowd, as he crashed through the jazz and rock barriers, fusing his love of rock and jazz with covers from a litany of stars such as Nirvana’s Smells Like Teen Spirit, Coldplay’s Clocks, The Killers’ Mr. Brightside, and classics such as Lynyrd Skynyrd’s Sweet Home Alabama, and the Rolling Stones’ Paint It Black.
(Source)

New trailer - Crazy, Stupid, Love...

finally one where we can see Josh.


20 July, 2011

Toronto Review 3...

By J.D. Considine for the Globe and Mail
Josh Groban: Sweet and slyly subversive
Josh Groban definitely knows how to make an impression. After his band offered an instrumental version of Straight to You as an overture, Groban entered the Air Canada Centre in Toronto from the rear, walking through the crowd to a small satellite stage by the mixing desk.

Seating himself at the piano, he launched into a pair of emotionally expressive ballads. Then, after finishing the mournful, nostalgic February Song, he stood and thanked the crowd for coming. “You paid out the wazoo to be here tonight,” he said, “so I’m going to sing my ass off for you.”

Oh, that Josh – such a kidder!

Middlebrow radical

By rights, Groban should be what seniors call “a nice young man,” a charming, pleasant performer with a well-trained voice and a penchant for the sort of sweet, tuneful songs they allegedly don’t write any more. Rosie O’Donnell famously dubbed him “Opera Boy,” and indeed, his biggest hits – You Raise Me Up and the Christmas chestnut O Holy Night – have made good use of his rich tone and controlled power.

But at 30, the youthful-looking Groban is no mere boy, nor does he seem intent on following Wayne Newton’s path down the middle of the road to cultural irrelevance. At the same time, however, he seems genuinely to like old-fashioned melodies, the sort of tunes even the kids on Glee find corny.

So instead of reinventing himself as an indie-rock hipster, like Renée Fleming, Groban has followed his bliss, sticking with big, expressive melodies even as the underlying harmony and structure grew increasingly sophisticated.

Basically, he decided to make middlebrow music edgy – which in its way is far more subversive than covering Death Cab for Cutie.

The big wink

Groban is also quite the joker, and delights in playing against expectations. Toward the end of Monday’s show, he went through the audience searching for people to bring onstage. He found a couple who’d been married for 25 years, a pretty “single lady,” and a nine-year-old girl. After apologizing that his stage set lacked furniture, he instructed his stage crew to bring out the inflatable sofas they’d been using backstage and seated his guests.

To foster the proper atmosphere, he had wine brought out, plus some milk for the little girl, and served his special audience while joking about possible liability (“I’m pouring my career away …” he crooned). Once everyone was settled and expecting some romantic music, Groban said, “I’m going to sing you a song about cheating.”

The house exploded in laughter.

But the really sly thing about Groban’s gag was that the song, Broken Vow, really was a lovely romantic ballad, which he sang with tenderness and sensitivity. It just happened to be about someone trying to figure out why his lover left him.

Beauty versus power


Because middlebrow pop aspires to the grandeur of classical but eschews its artiness, the genre has a weakness for big, musical theatre-style voices. Groban, however, played down his power, keeping to the upper end of his range, which lightened his sound, lessening the temptation to simply power through the ballads.

His falsetto was particularly affecting, and when he sang You Are Loved and Bells of New York City, the brightness of his high notes underscored the sweetness of each refrain. It was genuinely bel canto singing, and while it didn’t always work – Machine had him sounding like an even paler Michael McDonald, and he didn’t quite manage the rhythmic grace to animate Voce Existe Em Mim – his best moments were wonderfully intimate.

Perhaps that’s why he handed off the triumphant You Raise Me Up to his audience. By asking the crowd to fill in for the recorded version’s gospel choir, he inverted the model, so that instead of uplifting bombast, the tune became a homey singalong. It was sweet and slyly subversive – classic Groban, in other words.
(Source)

Ottawa article...

By Francois Marchand - The Ottawa Citizen
When Josh Groban steps into an arena, there aren’t many who can upstage him.

But there is one, and his name is Sweeney.

Granted, Sweeney is a dog — Groban’s prized wheaten terrier, which he was looking forward to taking on a walk on a beautiful recent morning in New York City.

“I take him on the road with me and he loves it,” Groban said via phone. “We call it the ‘wheaten greet’ because he runs around the arenas and he meets fans. He’s far more famous than I am.”

Fans will more than likely see Sweeney on Groban’s Canadian dates on the Straight to You Tour, which will take Groban back in an arena setting after a string of smaller concerts earlier this year. He plays at Scotiabank Place on July 22.

“The shows were very intimate, with about 1,200 seats, just piano and guitar, no set list, and Q&A,” Groban said. “It wound up being the most fun I’ve ever had in my life. I realized there was a very special thing we could draw from this and bring to an arena environment.

“I wanted the arena show to be vibrant and energetic but have that intimacy and that connection with the audience. We can’t do Q&A because there’s too many people. So we have text messages fans send in so I can answer them, and there are stairs where I can literally climb into the audience and talk to people.”

Groban added that, while they could have easily called it the Illuminations Tour — referring to the title from his latest album, released in November last year — the tour isn’t about just one record; it’s about all five of his albums.

Straight to You turns out to be a Nick Cave song Groban covered on Illuminations, and he thought the title represented “that feeling of intimacy and excitement we have to get back out there.”

Illuminations marked a number of departures for Groban, having moved to New York from Los Angeles a year ago and working with famed producer Rick Rubin (Beastie Boys, Johnny Cash, Metallica) for the first time after four albums produced by the one who discovered Groban, “hit man” David Foster.

Groban also co-wrote most of the material on the album with the help of Semisonic’s Dan Wilson, marking the first time Groban would lend his own creative touch to the material he sang, which made for a deeper personal exploration.

“The co-writing was a bit of a surprise for me,” Groban said. “I trust Rick’s ear tremendously and I trust his ability to take any style of music — and my style was completely new to him — and put it through his filter. I think his motto for me was, ‘I know you can sing your ass off. I want these songs to be coming from you, rather than just being presented by you as a vocalist.’

“So he sent me off to do a lot of writing. I’m always writing and finding songs that are personal, but when you’ve got me working on a project for two and half years and you’re having me write, it’s going to get very introspective. It’s just the nature of the beast: It’s going to wind up being a more personal record, a more thoughtful record.”

Illuminations finds Groban in solitary mode, soul-searching on songs like Rufus Wainwright and mother Kate McGarrigle’s heartbreaking Au jardin des sans-pourquoi (the last song the two would write together before McGarrigle’s death) and singing, for the first time, in Portuguese on Voce Existe Em Mim.

New York admittedly played a big part in Groban’s writing on Illuminations, with songs like Bells of New York City and Higher Window resonating deeply with Groban’s operatic flair and hints of Brill Building influences.

“I always miss L.A.; it’s where I was born and raised,” Groban said. “I miss the feeling I get when I’m there and the people that I know. But I’ve needed this change. I’ve always felt deep down that New York was where I needed to be.”

Beyond the music, Groban will be appearing in the comedy Crazy Stupid Love (to be released July 29) alongside Steve Carrell, Ryan Gosling, Julianne Moore and Emma Stone, playing Stone’s fiancé, a lawyer who tells horrible jokes and whom everybody hates.

“It’s a hysterical script, one of the best I’ve read in a long time,” Groban said. “It was really nice to be given a chance to be a comedic actor and not have to worry about the singing. When you’re surrounded by those kinds of people, it doesn’t get any better than that.”

Did he feel being far from Hollywood would hurt his movie career?

“Right, I didn’t think about that,” he said with a hearty laugh. “Well, back to Beverly Hills! I mean, Woody Allen is still making movies in New York, right? Maybe I’ll try to meet him.”

Josh Groban performs in concert at Scotiabank Place on Friday, July 22
(Source)

Crazy Stupid Love interview...

(Source - Trailer Addict)

19 July, 2011

Behind the scenes...

Check out this great blog for some behind the scenes pictures from the rehearsals in LA and then the first show in New Orleans.

Suzie Sefcik Photography

Toronto Review 2...

Article by Nick Krewen.
Josh Groban is all about breaking down barriers.

Returning Monday night with a considerably different show than his extremely intimate “Before We Begin” two-accompanist affair, which stopped off at the Queen Elizabeth Centre earlier this year, Groban expanded his support group to a 13-piece band that included a trumpet, a trombone, two French Horns and a four-piece string section — mainly to take advantage of the orchestral palette that imbues some of his earnest, neo-classical songs.

But however he may be perceived, the genial Los Angeles native went out of his way during his 20-song set to make his show fun, interesting, interactive and intimate. He largely succeeded despite being hampered by the cavernous sound of a semi-filled Air Canada Centre.

Determined to keep it light and as spontaneous as big-ticket concerts allow, Groban threw the first curveball at the very beginning of his two-hour set: allowing his horn and string players to introduce their presence on the main stage with an instrumental version of “Straight To You,” while he snuck to a smaller stage within the bowels of the arena, sat down at an upright piano and proceeded to serenade the approximately 8,500 in attendance with “Changing Colors.”

He then segued into the first big gun of the night, “February’s Song,” from 2003’s Closer, his running shoes tapping the piano pedal as his fingers lyrically rolled around the keys, before addressing the crowd and warmly welcoming them to the show.

“You guys paid through the wazoo to be here tonight,” Groban stated, “The least I can do is sing my ass off for you.”

And he made good on his promise, singing his posterior off with a top-flight selection of favourites from his four multi-platinum studio albums, including the recent Rick Rubin-produced Illuminations.

While he often overpowered his talented band with that impossibly big voice of his, an absorbing baritone that had no trouble reaching the Air Canada Centre rafters, the David Foster discovery found some of his more tasteful nuances lost in the cavernous reverb of the building.

But he did his best to showcase a versatile voice, one that glides easily up to falsetto on crowd-pleasers like “You Raise Me Up” and is even capable of dispensing some soul, as he did so brilliantly on the raucous “Machine.”

Groban, who follows Monday night’s gig with one on Tuesday at London’s John Labatt Centre, is a little difficult to pin down, genre-wise: some call him classical crossover, except his voice doesn’t really have the straight-laced discipline to handle pure opera — although the power is certainly there. He also defies consideration as a pop singer, as the sheer strength of his voice tends to place him in the more formal category for casual classical listeners.

But demonstrating his prowess with foreign languages — he waited until the fifth song before articulating the “Oceano” in Italian and then switching to Spanish for “Alejate” — Groban proved himself an expressive interpreter and a strong ally for the argument that music is indeed a universal language.

He’s also a decent writer, delving into “The Bells Of New York” and “Higher Window” with the grand, sweeping melodrama expected of someone of his stature.

But even though he possesses the magic weapon of a warm, flexible timbre, Groban went out of his way to prove he’s just one of the guys.

Several times during his show, he ran through the crowd, slapping hands and engaging different people in short conversations.

He even, by request, sang some of his infamous Kanye West tweets.

You certainly wouldn’t see Placido Domingo inviting people on stage and pouring them wine while he sang to them.

A definite crowd-pleaser, the only complaint is that Groban needs a more suitable venue the next time around.

Molson Amphitheatre, anyone?
(Source)

Toronto Review 1...

By Jane Stevenson
TORONTO - Classical crossover pop star Josh Groban did a very wise thing on his return engagement to Toronto.

Appearing at the Air Canada Centre on Monday night as part of his Straight To You arena trek, the 30-year-old singer incorporated a lot of the winning components from his much more intimate show at T.O.’s Queen Elizabeth Theatre back in January as part of his Before We Begin warm up tour.

Thus the warm up right?

Keep what works, throw away what doesn’t.

For example, he began the two-hour show at the ACC by casually wandering into the audience on the floor where his piano sat on a smaller b-stage while his 13 musicians - including four horn players and four string players - played away on his larger main stage, thus keeping it intimate from the get-go.

How about Close to You instead of Straight to You?

And Groban’s trademark wit was also on display as he interacted early and often with the audience, ranging in size from 10,000 to 13,000 depending on who you asked, and just shy of a sell out.

The funniest bit was when he took questions from fans including a woman named Bambi, who asked him to sing Kanye West tweets, in a repeat of the popular sketch he’s done on Jimmy Kimmel’s late night chat show.

“Is that your real name or your stage name?” he kidded Bambi.

But he did acquiesce and perform some of West’s better tweets including “French fries are the devil,” “Fur pillows are hard to actually sleep on,” “Man whatever happened to my antique fishtank,” and Classical music is tight, yo,” back on the smaller stage piano again much to the audience’s delight.

Then Groban dragged up a couple who had been together for 25 years plus a random nine year old and a 24-year old woman on stage to sit on blow up white and black couches, serving them wine and milk.

“What’s your secret?” he asked the couple.

“We just like to hang out and party,” said the man

“I’m going to get you hammered,” sang Groban as he poured the wine.

He advised nine year old Claire: “Drink milk for as long as you can.”

Schtick aside - basically he’s ready for a stint in Las Vegas if he wants it - Groban was in good voice in several languages including Italian, Spanish and English, when he wasn’t working the room.

Standouts included You Are Loved (Don’t Give Up), Alejate, Bells Of New York City (Groban’s recent new home) - the first of many songs from his 2010 release, Illuminations - Higher Window, War at Home, Galileo (Someone Like You), Broken Vow, and the set ending Per Te.

He also showed off his drumming skills on a stand up kit when the entire band took part in an instrumental version of Paul McCartney’s Live and Let Die and performed an encore consisting of a cover of Neil Diamond’s Play Me - he joked when writing he often asks “What would Neil Diamond do?” - and his own inspirational tune, You Raise Me Up, asking the Toronto fans to be his gospel choir for the night.
(Source)

Article from Montréal...

By Vanessa Guimond (for those of you who can't read French, click this link for the Google translation of the article).
Josh Groban s’est ennuyé de ses fans et il ne s’en cache pas.

Pour cette raison, le jeune trentenaire qui compte déjà plus de dix ans de carrière se dit ravi de pouvoir s’arrêter à Montréal dans le cadre de la sa tournée Straight to You, le 23 juillet, au Centre Bell.

Il faut dire que Josh Groban aura attendu quatre ans avant de reprendre la route, période qui lui aura entre autres permis de travailler sur Illuminations, son cinquième album studio.

Rejoint alors qu’il profitait d’une pause bien méritée, entre deux portions de la tournée, le chanteur se disait sincèrement heureux de pouvoir se produire sur scène dans le cadre de ce périple qui le mènera, d’ici novembre, aux quatre coins du Canada, des États-Unis et de l’Europe.

«Cette tournée, c’est quelque chose de fantastique, pour moi, a-t-il affirmé, au bout du fil. Je suis vraiment heureux de pouvoir reprendre la route et retrouver mes fans.»

La dernière visite de Josh Groban, à Montréal, remonte à 2006, année où il a choisi de venir présenter son album Awake à ses admirateurs avant même de le lancer à New York.

«Montréal est l’une de mes villes préférées dans le monde, a-t-il précisé. Les gens, chez vous, ont toujours été très accueillants. En plus, il y a une connexion très forte entre mon dernier album et Montréal, puisqu’on y retrouve une chanson composée par Rufus Wainwright et Kate McGarrigle.»

Intitulée Au Jardin des Sans-Pourquoi, cette chanson — qui est des plus touchante, soit dit en passant — est l’une des seules pièces que Rufus a eu la chance d’écrire avec sa mère, décédée en 2010 des suites d’un cancer.

TOUJOURS LE MÊME

Même s’il a vendu plus 25 millions de disques à travers le monde et qu’il a travaillé avec plusieurs grands noms de l’industrie (Rick Rubin, David Foster, Celine Dion, pour ne nommer que ceux-ci), Josh Groban fait preuve d’une modestie surprenante.

«Je pense que ce qui me rend le plus fier, par rapport à ce que j’ai accompli au cours des dix dernières années, c’est d’avoir réussi à ne pas me faire influencer par les choses qui auraient pu me changer, en tant que personne. C’est facile, dans cette industrie, de perdre son chemin.»

Le chanteur affirme que c’est en grande partie grâce à son public qu’il a pu garder le cap et se concentrer sur l’évolution de sa carrière.

«Mes fans m’ont permis de faire ce que j’avais à faire sans que j’aie à me soucier des tendances actuelles, a-t-il poursuivi. Je n’ai jamais eu besoin de changer quoi que ce soit pour plaire à mon public ou aux radios. Je suis vraiment reconnaissant de cela. Ça m’a permis de poursuivre mon chemin et d’évoluer en tant qu’artiste.»

SPECTACLE INTIME

C’est après qu’il ait eu la chance de se produire dans de petites salles, à l’occasion de quelques concerts improvisés, l’an dernier, que Josh Groban a souhaité se lancer dans une tournée «intimiste».

«Même si je me produis dans les arénas, je voulais amener cette spontanéité à mon spectacle», a-t-il expliqué.

Question de pouvoir réellement communiquer avec son public, Josh a choisi d’intégrer des éléments interactifs à son spectacle. Par exemple, les spectateurs pourront envoyer leurs questions par message texte au chanteur, qui prendra le temps d’y répondre sur scène.

C’est aussi afin de s’assurer de présenter un concert différent dans chaque ville qu’il visite que Josh a opté pour la présentation de pièces extraites de tous ces disques.

«De présenter un spectacle qui diffère, chaque soir, c’est ce qui m’assure de conserver une certaine énergie, qui fait en sorte que le spectacle demeure dynamique et vivant.»

Les fans du chanteur seront également heureux de savoir que Josh fait partie de la distribution du film Crazy, Stupid, Love, en salles le 29 juillet.

Josh Groban se produira au Centre Bell dans le cadre de sa tournée Straight To You, le 23 juillet prochain.
(Source)

18 July, 2011

Undercover.com interview - Dec 2010...

Opps, looks like I missed posting this back in December last year from when Josh was in Australia.  It's a great long (16:39) interview by Tim Cashmere from Undercover.fm



Josh Groban is planning at least one more album with producer Rick Rubin after a successful collaboration on his latest album ‘Illuminations’.

“Now that Rick and I know each other a little better - this record was a “nice to meet you” to the fans from me and Rick,” Groban told Undercover. “In the future I’d like to explore more with rhythm and more with world music and Eric is someone who is great to do that with.”

“We’ve always viewed this as a two or three album process together. There is so much of a “getting to know you” period in the first record that I think that to only limit it to that, to twelve songs, as a new relationship would be doing both of us a disservice, so yeah, we’re very excited about the next one.

“So far I’ve been going back and forth a lot with my friend Eric Mouquet,” Groban later added. “We met when he was in a band called Deep Forest and we’ve written about two songs an album so far and I think we really miss each other, we didn’t write together on this album.”

The idea to work together first came from the bearded producer.

“We met as two people in the industry who have never met before. We met through a mutual friend and we just wanted to have a fun lunch to talk about music. That lunch turned into him saying “Well if you’re working on songs, I’d be happy to give you a friendly ear, give my opinion.” That turned into me playing him songs, which turned into us talking about how we would make those songs, which in turn had him saying “I don’t do anything half way, I’d like to produce the whole record. This is new for me and new for you, let’s take the leap.”

“I was terrified, but also so honoured that someone of his stature wanted to take on something new. For me, I knew that the work that he had done in the past was not at all like what I do, so I felt like if he was interested in taking that leap with me, I had no choice but to take the leap with him because when else do you get the chance to do that?”

Fans probably don’t have to wait too long to hear the next Groban record.

“I have a sneaking suspicion that this next record is not going to take very long,” the singer said.

(Source)

This makes me proud to be a fan...

This video from Josh's visit to the Bethesda Naval Hospital before his performance at "A Capitol 4th".


Before his performance he talks about this visit to Bethesda.


15 July, 2011

Bank Arena Cincinnati...

...By Paul Clark from Cincinnati.com
So there was Josh Groban, juggling fruit onstage while a female fan licked her elbow.

“The kind of thing that could only have happened on this tour,” he says.

That would be Groban’s “Straight to You” tour, due at U.S. Bank Arena Friday night. During each show he invites audience members to send text messages to backstage staff who choose a few for Groban to read aloud.

On the night in question, a texter asked whether Groban has any hidden circus talents. The fan boasted that she can lick her elbow, so Groban invited her up to demonstrate.

“I’ve tried licking my elbow. It’s impossible,” Groban said. “So I juggled. I improvised with an apple, a baseball and I think a lime.

“We had done small shows where we took questions that were yelled out from the crowd, but that would be unruly in an arena setting. I’m a little nervous before that segment, but it brings a different energy to the show.”

Groban also has been juggling different musical approaches this tour. Known for a supersized voice that was made for singing to the balcony, he’s mixing his beloved booming ballads with stripped-down sounds from his fifth studio album, “Illuminations.”

“While the spirit and intimacy of that record is there. the vibrancy of the shows are representative of all five records,” he said. “I love big sound. But for those who think ('Illuminations’) was a wonderful departure, it will be represented.”

Fans will likewise find Groban playing against type in the screen comedy “Crazy, Stupid, Love” premiering two weeks from Friday. The movie, featuring Steve Canell and Ryan Gosling, casts Groban as Emma Stone’s jerk boyfriend, seemingly a stretch for the notoriously nice Groban.

He’s so affable that he’s even good-natured if people poke fun at his amiable image. In a video on the “Funny or Die” website, Groban plays a dual role as himself and a smarmy interviewer asking cliché questions (“Are you single?”) and assuring the singer that “my mom’s a big fan.”

“I have fun poking fun at [that image], because it’s not entirely true,” Groban says. “The crowd is so diverse. It’s more than your mom.”

In Cincinnati, the fans include a couple of Groban’s great-aunts who live in the area.

“It will be something of a hometown show,” he says. “I have many relatives in Cincinnati. Aunt Sis is in Cincy. She says ‘Oh, I can’t keep the buttons on, I’m so proud.’”

So, clueless interviewers and surprise questions from audience members aside, what would Groban prefer to discuss if he really did interview himself?

“I could talk about music, but that’s boring. Sports, Wimbledon I could talk about. I could talk about food all day long. I’m kind of a foodie. I could just eat my way through various boroughs.”

Is he single?

“I am single at the moment,” he says. “It’s one of those things you write about when you tap into at the moment. With ‘Illuminations’ we didn’t want to just throw big love anthems out there. It was a project I needed to do. We wanted to face the truth.”

Which can be nearly as hard as licking your elbow.
(Source)

14 July, 2011

Seeing the light...

In anticipation of his upcoming Canadian shows... by Francois Marchand of the Vancouver Sun.
When Josh Groban steps into an arena, there aren't many that can upstage him.

But there is one, and his name is Sweeney.

Granted, Sweeney is a dog: Groban's prized wheaten terrier, which he was looking forward to taking on a walk on a beautiful June morning in New York City.

"I take him on the road with me and he loves it," Groban said via phone. "We call it the 'wheaten greet' because he runs around the arenas and he meets fans. He's far more famous than I am."

Fans will more than likely see Sweeney on Groban's forthcoming Canadian dates on the Straight to You Tour, which will take Groban back in an arena setting after a string of smaller concerts earlier this year.

"The shows were very intimate, with about 1,200 seats, just piano and guitar, no set list, and Q&A," Groban said. "It wound up being the most fun I've ever had in my life. I realized there was a very special thing we could draw from this and bring to an arena environment.

"I wanted the arena show to be vibrant and energetic but have that intimacy and that connection with the audience. We can't do Q&A because there's too many people. So we have text messages fans send in so I can answer them, and there are stairs where I can literally climb into the audience and talk to people."

Groban added that, while they could have easily called it the Illuminations Tour - referring to the title from his latest album, released in November last year - the tour isn't about just one record; it's about all five of his albums.

Straight to You turns out to be a Nick Cave song Groban covered on Illuminations, and he thought the title represented "that feeling of intimacy and excitement we have to get back out there."

Illuminations marked a number of departures for Groban, having moved to New York from Los Angeles a year ago and working with famed producer Rick Rubin (Beastie Boys, Johnny Cash, Metallica) for the first time after four albums produced by the one who discovered Groban, "hit man" David Foster.

Groban also co-wrote most of the material on the album with the help of Semisonic's Dan Wilson, marking the first time Groban would lend his own creative touch to the material he sang, which made for a deeper personal exploration.

"The co-writing was a bit of a surprise for me," Groban said. "I trust Rick's ear tremendously and I trust his ability to take any style of music - and my style was completely new to him - and put it through his filter. I think his motto for me was, 'I know you can sing your ass off. I want these songs to be coming from you, rather than just being presented by you as a vocalist.'

"So he sent me off to do a lot of writing. I'm always writing and finding songs that are personal, but when you've got me working on a project for two and half years and you're having me write, it's going to get very introspective. It's just the nature of the beast: It's going to wind up being a more personal record, a more thoughtful record."

One can wonder if Foster, seeing one of his proteges taking on a new producer and adopting an entirely new creative approach, might have resented Groban working with Rubin and writing his own material.

"Not at all," Groban said. "My relationship with David is arguably better than it's ever been. He's always been a wonderful friend and mentor, and we've always known from the beginning that sometimes we'll work together and sometimes we won't. We have a much more meaningful relationship in each other's lives that goes far beyond whether we make an album together or not. He was skeptical of it at first, but, to be fair, Rick and I were skeptical, too."

Illuminations finds Groban in solitary mode, soul-searching on songs like Rufus Wainwright and mother Kate McGarrigle's heartbreaking Au jardin des sans-pourquoi (the last song the two would write together before McGarrigle's death) and singing, for the first time, in Portuguese on Voce Existe Em Mim.

New York admittedly played a big part in Groban's writing on Illuminations, with songs like Bells of New York City and Higher Window resonating deeply with Groban's operatic flair and hints of Brill Building influences.

"I always miss L.A.; it's where I was born and raised," Groban said. "I miss the feeling I get when I'm there and the people that I know. But I've needed this change. I've always felt deep down that New York was where I needed to be."

Beyond the music, Groban will be appearing in the comedy Crazy Stupid Love (to be released July 29) alongside Steve Carrell, Ryan Gosling, Julianne Moore and Emma Stone, playing Stone's fiance, a lawyer who tells horrible jokes and whom everybody hates.

"It's a hysterical script, one of the best I've read in a long time," Groban said. "It was really nice to be given a chance to be a comedic actor and not have to worry about the singing. When you're surrounded by those kinds of people, it doesn't get any better than that."

Did he feel being far from Hollywood would hurt his movie career?

"Right, I didn't think about that," he said with a hearty laugh. "Well, back to Beverly Hills! I mean, Woody Allen is still making movies in New York, right? Maybe I'll try to meet him."

Groban plays Toronto July 18, London July 19, Ottawa July 22, Montreal July 23, Vancouver Aug. 30, Calgary Sept. 1, Edmonton Sept. 2, Winnipeg Sept. 4.
(Source)

Changing things up...

By Gary Graff of the Oakland Press.
osh Groban certainly doesn’t have anything broken or in need of fixing in his career.

The 30-year-old classically trained singer has sold more than 24 million albums worldwide — 21 million of them in the U.S. He’s notched 14 Top 20 Adult-Contemporary hits and has guested on albums by Nelly Furtado, Placido Domingo, Barbra Streisand, Charlotte Church and Groban’s producer, David Foster.

And for fun he’s dabbled in acting, cameoing on TV’s “Ally McBeal” and yucking it up with late-night TV host Jimmy Kimmel — setting Kanye West tweets to music for his most recent appearance. And on July 29 Groban will make his feature film debut in the romantic comedy “Crazy, Stupid, Love.”

It’s all part of what Groban calls a “strange, serendipitous” life. But where most would simply stay the course, Groban has made some significant changes during the past year — on his latest album, “Illuminations,” and on the tour to support it.

“Illuminations,” Groban’s fifth studio release, came out in November and has already been certified platinum. But after 11 years of working with mentor David Foster, the producer who introduced him to the world by having him sub for an ailing Andrea Bocelli at the 1999 Grammy Awards ceremony, Groban hooked up for “Illuminations” with Rick Rubin. The Grammy Award winner — whose résumé ranges from early hip-hop heroes such as Run-DMC and the Beastie Boys to rockers Slayer, Tom Petty and Kid Rock, country favorites the Dixie Chicks and iconic figures Johnny Cash and Neil Diamond — may seem like a strange bedfellow for Groban, but he and Rubin crafted a 13-song set that’s melodic with a more stripped-down kind of lushness than its predecessors.

And because Groban wrote or co-wrote 11 of the tracks, it also feels far more personal and more like the work of a songwriter than a singer.

“Up until this record I relied primarily on stuff that was off the shelf,” says Groban, whose last album, 2007’s holiday themed “Noel,” was a five-times platinum chart-topper. “When people start sending you songs, you either hit the jackpot, a song like (2003’s) ‘You Raise Me Up,’ or you get a whole lot of songs that you say to yourself, ‘Is this really what people think of me?,’ which is often the case.

“So one of the things Rick and I wanted to tackle was to add a personal flavor to whatever it is that I do and not just sing the same song and not rely on songs that maybe don’t mean as much to me personally. So he sent me off to write.”

Groban says he did have “a good set of cover songs that we could have done” for the album, but the writing — with collaborators such as Semisonic’s Dan Wilson, Rufus Wainwright and his late mother, Kate McGarrigle, and British producer Marius de Vries, among others — went well. Groban “was excited about what was coming out, so we just went there.

“I was looking for a nice challenge, and it was really very rewarding.”

He’s approaching this year’s Straight To You Tour in much the same mindset. Reflecting the more direct sonic approach of “Illuminations,” he’s stepped away from the orchestras he would hire in each city to accompany him, instead bolstering his rhythm section with string and brass quartets that travel with him and provide an opportunity “to really have an incredibly adaptable and focused and rehearsed (group) that can decided to go someplace that maybe we didn’t go the night before and stuff like that.

“It’s very, very easy to get out there and say, “OK, I’ve got a chance now to really get out there and put on a big show,” Groban explains. “But one of the things we’ve really learned in the past few years is the power of simplicity, the power of intimacy, the power of an honest to goodness connection with your crowd. That’s more of what I’m going for this time.”

Nevertheless, he promises, “it’s not going to be stripped-down in dynamic.”

“The energy will still be there; it’s not going to be like people are sitting in a living room. But we can be a little looser, and you can certainly expect the unexpected when it comes to the set list.”

Groban — who recently launched the nonprofit Find Your Light Foundation to help fund programs for apsiring musicians — also hopes these changes will also allow him to be more surprising to fans as his career goes on. With plans to be on the road into 2012 supporting “Illuminations” he’s not sure what will be next, but Groban does feel a fresh sense of freedom that he considers to be his new standard operating procedure.

“I just feel really blessed that I’m able to be in this game and play it by own rules,” he says. “I know that’s something that’s very rare, and it’s something I’m very grateful for.”

Unwitting infamy from U-M on Twitter

Josh Groban found himself the unwitting part of a big Michigan story last fall when embattled (and now former) University of Michigan football coach Rich Rodriguez played the singer’s 2003 hit “You Raise Me Up” at the team’s annual banquet.

Rodriguez told the crowd that night that he found solace in the words of Groban’s song, which were written by Irish composer and novelist Brendan Graham. He then had the song played while he and the team held hands.

Groban recalls that he “saw Twitter blow up over something I had absolutely nothing to do with.” He added his own message to the mostly derisive onslaught, tweeting “Coach Rodriguez, I’m very flattered but crying to You Raise Me Up is SO five years ago.” Groban suggested Guns N’ Roses “Welcome to the Jungle” instead.

Groban, a Los Angeles native, has no lingering thoughts about what happened at Michigan, but he is a college football fan who rooted for the University of Southern California. “I really love college football,” he says. “It’s really fun to see that kind of passion and energy — minus the greed and scandal, of course.”
(Source)

Indianapolis review...

From David Lindquist from the Indianapolis Star.
It's fitting that Josh Groban didn't perform at an open-air venue when he visited Indianapolis on Tuesday night.

Conseco Fieldhouse served as a cool oasis during our mid-July heat wave, and -- more importantly -- operatic pop star Groban didn't present a summer concert of blockbuster escapism.

Instead, Groban foreshadowed an autumnal mood with deep thoughts, emotional vulnerability and encouraging words for his audience and himself.

Opening number "Changing Colors," originally recorded by Canadian band Great Lake Swimmers in 2007, set the tone with its tree-leaf metaphors applied to a relationship's ebb and flow.

A decade into a major-label recording career, Groban's (mostly) baritone voice is as big as advertised but also rich.

It was surprising that an impressive crescendo during "February Song" triggered little reaction in the estimated audience of 6,000. Groban, stationed on a satellite stage in the middle of the arena for the opening segment of the show, unleashed his pipes for the line, "I keep on falling as I try to get away from this crazy world."

Still, it would be wrong to say the 30-year-old Los Angeles native failed to connect with his fans.

Wearing black pants, dark blazer, white T-shirt and five-stripe K-Swiss tennis shoes, Groban joked about his security staff's nickname for stairs connecting the stage to the crowd (GAPs, or "Grobanite Access Points").

One lucky fan won her wish to sing with Groban. When she lacked a duet suggestion, Groban smartly multitasked and made it a "Happy Birthday" moment for a different audience member.

On tour for 2010 album "Illuminations," Groban showcased three songs he wrote with Dan Wilson (leader of pop-rock band Semisonic, known for 1998 hit "Closing Time").

"Bells of New York City" featured a clinic by the band's percussionist, who finessed kettle drums, shimmery cymbals and, yes, tubular bells.

On current single "Higher Window," Groban hopes he hasn't run out of chances to make a relationship work: "Here I am, the one-man band, with a song that's meant for two."

And "War at Home" unfolded as an empathetic tribute to veterans who are no longer overseas: "He doesn't want to rest; he just wants to run."
(Source)

12 July, 2011

Another great review from Green Bay...

From Kendra Meinert of the Green Bay Press Gazette.

Things you expect at a Josh Groban concert: more women than men, at least one uncontrollable “I love you Josh!" uncorked from somewhere in the darkness and those golden pipes of his in all their moving, romantic glory.

Things you don’t expect at a Josh Groban concert: an opening act named ELEW who covered The Killers and the von Trapps, inflatable couches and a gallon of milk onstage, a triple drum solo, the star of the night’s own version of a Green Bay Packers touchdown dance and a stunning Jackie Evancho-esque moment from a little girl in the crowd.

Groban delivered all of the above – and then some – during an utterly charming and impeccable two-hour performance Saturday at the Resch Center that felt more like “The Josh Groban Variety Hour" than mere concert.

Who knew (well, except for all the smitten Grobanites in the audience of 4,929) that the 30-year-old Groban was such a versatile entertainer with such a warm stage presence and wicked sense of humor? Classical-pop crossover star gets him the marquee lights all over the world – and deservedly so when you heard his voice on the swelling strains of “Bells of New York City" and the guaranteed show-ender “You Raise Me Up" -- but he proved on his second visit to the Resch that he’s also a gracious host, the boy next door and incredibly likable in a young Barry Manilow kind of way.

With a painted brick backdrop that looked like the backstage of an old theater and some subtle video images, he transported the crowd to New York, a war zone and Italy. But that’s only when he was on that stage.

To the delight of the crowd, he made his entrance from amongst the screaming fans on a small circular stage at the back of the arena. Even when he was on the main stage, he repeatedly took advantage of “GAPs" (his road crew’s slang for Groban Access Points) to go bounding into the crowd to give a 9-year-old first-time concertgoer a hug or sympathetically ask a man, “You look dragged here tonight. Is that the case?"

Out of breath after running down the aisle, he jumped back up stage and proclaimed, “You were a little grabby. I’m not gonna lie."

Later in the night, he would invite a couple of 40 years, a single woman (whom he skipped down the arena floor with while singing Beyonce’s “Single Ladies") and that same first-time fan up on stage to sit on inflatable couches as he poured them a glass of wine or milk – all the while doing assorted goofy waiter impersonations – and then serenaded them with first “Broken Vow" and then “Per Te"’ in Italian.

Much like the music on his current Rick Rubin-produced “Illuminations" album, his show too felt more intimate and personal. There was both a hopefulness and vulnerability to Groban as he sat at the piano to sing the new love song “Higher Window," and the power of his voice on his tribute to veterans, “War at Home," all but demanded the hair on the back of your neck to stand at attention. He treated fans to a new arrangement of “You Are Loved" and got dangerously close to funky on “Machine."

He let his 13-piece band have at it on a driving cover of “Live and Let Die" for what felt like the perfect seventh inning stretch. A double drum solo at the end of that song transitioned into “Voce Existe Em Mim," with Groban taking up himself on a drum set rolled out between his two drummers, where all three unleashed a firestorm of beats before the singer launched into the song in Portuguese.

Seemingly afraid of no topic – even venturing into the territory of what he wears to bed (to more screams) – he talked personally about some songs and occasionally let some chats to turn into mini stand-up routines. He put on plenty of silly accents, but never airs.

During a Q&A segment via text messages, a fan asked: “The Packers just scored a touchdown. What’s your signature dance move? (Don’t tell me you don’t have one.)" After some thought, he went leaping across the stage as a nod to “Fiddler on the Roof" and then finished it off with a “Waiting for Guffman" bow. The crowd that was beside itself with laughter would be stunned into silence moments later when a 14-year-old girl asked if she could sing a duet with him.

Groban escorted her from her seat to the secondary stage and asked what she’d like to sing. “To Where You Are," she said shyly. He allowed her to open the song by herself to an arena that gasped at the beauty of her operatic voice. The crowd was quick to its feet with a standing ovation. After sending the child off the stage with an exuberant high five, a dejected Groban joked fans would have to make do with “just me" for the rest of the night.

Turns out he would do just fine.
(Source)

11 July, 2011

From Yothu Yindi to Nelson Mandela: A singer's journey...

I'm not sure how I missed posting this back in December, but when Josh was in Australia he did an audio interview with the ABC in Sydney at the Eugene Goossens Hall. It's a nice long interview where Josh talks about "Illuminations", his foundation and then treats the listeners to a couple of tracks including "Hidden Away" and "Higher Window".
Eugene Goossens Hall
Click here to get to the ABC webpage for the audio link.
The multi-talented Josh Groban has been described as having the voice of an angel and shares that with us as well as some insights into his passions.

A singer, songwriter, pianist, percussionist, actor, producer, and philanthropist with four multi-platinum solo albums and a tick of approval from none less than Oprah Winfrey, it's easy to be a little jealous of this man.

Despite all that, he is still a little nervous about his Carols in the Domain concert, and reasons, "anytime you're performing for tens of thousands of people and quite a bit more than that on TV, you get a bit nervous."

He seems rather destined for a performer's life, though, with his parents taking him and his music video producing brother to lots of concerts and theatre as children.

" I walked away from that getting the bug for acting and theatre and viewed singing as the thing I needed to do to be a better actor [but] the music took over and I realised I was a better singer than actor."

He proves that with renditions of the songs Hidden Away and Higher Window that he plays live for us in the Eugene Goossens Hall at the ABC in Ultimo, Sydney.

"It's a very personal record for me," he says of the album those songs come from, Illuminations.

The task was to write personal messages for this long player and they stemmed from "people and situations in my life that hopefully can have a universal message," Groban reflects.

"You hope if you've been there, someone else will have been too..."

In a variation on that thought, the concept of 'there but the grace of God...' seems to resonate for Groban, as he has committed himself to helping those less fortunate.

The Josh Groban Foundation was kick-started with a cheque from fans who had auctioned some of his autographs online and given the money back to him.

He matched the donated $50,000 dollars and now has over $2 million, which has gone to places like the Nelson Mandela's 46664 foundation and to a scholars fund in South Central Los Angeles, although he wants to shift the focus to education and, specifically, arts education.

Meanwhile, Groban admits to an Australian connection to his formative musical years, after a Christmas present from his parents of a Yothu Yindi album sparked his interest in more traditional instruments mixing with modern ones.

"The song Treaty was amazing," he adds.

And, to continue the connection with this country, he promises a tour on the back of the current album soon...
(Source)

10 July, 2011

Very serious voice also has a lighter side...

An article by David Lindquist from IndyStar.com
Operatic pop star Josh Groban made a career based on refined anthems of yearning, but he's no stranger to comedy.

In January, Groban sang the tweets of rapper Kanye West for uproarious effect on "Jimmy Kimmel Live." (Seated at a grand piano, Groban interpreted West gems such as "Fur pillows are hard to actually sleep on.")

Groban will make his big-screen debut in "Crazy, Stupid, Love," a Steve Carrell film that opens July 29. The singer portrays a disreputable attorney, in decided contrast to his nice-guy image.

"(The role) is taken from a few people I've known in my life," he said during a phone interview.

Groban, who celebrated his 30th birthday in February, will promote current album "Illuminations," during his Tuesday visit to Conseco Fieldhouse. Produced by Rick Rubin (whose credits include work with Johnny Cash, Jay-Z and the Red Hot Chili Peppers), the album sold 190,000 copies in its first week of release.

Los Angeles native Groban talked to The Star about his voice and the making of "Illuminations":

Question: When I spoke with you seven years ago, you said your voice would not sound as good then as it would when you reached 30. How did your prediction turn out?

Answer: I think I was right. I feel like I'm able to do stuff now that I was so terrified to do at that time in my vocal life. As you continue to be a student of technique, you grow. You build confidence and your range grows and your stamina grows and your breath support grows. I'm having more fun vocally onstage than I ever have. I feel like I'm in my prime or approaching it.

Q: It seems rare to hear mainstream singing that hasn't been tweaked by Auto-Tune or other mechanical devices. In your case, is it important to have the integrity of "What you hear is really what I can do"?

A: One hundred percent. I think that's a wonderful thing about getting out on the road. You want people to get the pure, unfiltered version. When people walk out of a show and say, "Wow, it sounded better than it does on the record," it should be taken as a compliment. I think we've all become so cynical as to say, "Well, what is that? Who's really doing that?"

One of the great things about working with (15-time Grammy Award winner) David Foster and Rick Rubin is that they're really take-no-prisoners vocal producers. They are all about having the most open, clear microphone to bring out the nuances of the people they like working with. I'm singing the same way on a studio mic as I am on the stage. I'm proud of that fact.

Q: A few albums ago, you wrote songs with Dave Matthews and Five for Fighting's John Ondrasik. "Illuminations" includes six songs you wrote with Dan Wilson, who's known as Semisonic's vocalist and the co-author of the Dixie Chicks' hit "Not Ready to Make Nice." Why did you and Wilson click?

A: Dan really is the co-writer du jour in the industry. He's developed such a name for himself as a writing partner, with a line of people around the door waiting to work with him. When Rick Rubin listened to the melodies I was writing, he felt the lyrical content should be poetic and chivalrous and traditional. He didn't want the lyrics to be too casual-sounding.

He suggested that I fly to Minneapolis to try writing with Dan. We would get up early and work late. Every day, we wrote two or three new things.

Q: I've seen the trailer for your "Crazy, Stupid, Love" film. Is it accurate that you studied acting?

A: I went to an arts high school, where I studied drama, and then I was a theater major at Carnegie Mellon University before I was signed. Acting was something that I thought would be my world. It was a real fork in the road to be given the opportunity to record and to play myself.
(Source)

09 July, 2011

And now introducing ... Josh Groban, rock star...

I love that Josh is back on the road again. Here's another review from Minneapolis by Jon Bream of the Star Tribune.
REVIEW: He turned on the charm, delivering ballad after ballad and flirting with the crowd with no air of pretension.

The opera boy next door is really a rock star without a top 40 portfolio.

And a standup comic without a gig, a mimic, an impressionist, a fast-talking and fast-thinking improviser and an all-around charmer.

But back to the rock star, because that's how Josh Groban made his entrance Friday at Target Center.

As four horn players and four string musicians played on the main stage, Groban came running in from the back of the arena, slapping hands with fans and ready to rock 'n' roll on a spinet piano in the middle of the room.

OK, it wasn't exactly rock 'n' roll. It was "Straight to You," another ballady song in an evening of ballad after ballad. Some of Groban's ballads are louder than others, some slightly faster. But on Friday, he proved that he is essentially a man without a genre.

Mr. Hyphen is often referred to as pop-classical-crossover. But his two-hour concert -- which he promised would be more intimate than any of his previous arena shows -- didn't feel classical at all. Formal, yes. That's his style. Think of a male Celine Dion without the vocal gymnastics, chest-thumping or pretensions of making something contemporary.

Groban, 30, is comfortable in his own skin -- even knowing that his audience, middle-of-the-road and middle-aged, probably didn't know what he meant when he said he was "stoked" to be in Minneapolis. He was excited to be here, he explained, because he wrote half the songs on his current album, "Illuminations," here with songwriter-for-hire Dan Wilson.

While their reverently emotional "Bells of New York" and the almost-hummable "Higher Window" added a more personal feel to his hopelessly stately repertoire, they did not change the tempo or tenor. That's where Groban's personality came in. He cruised through the crowd of 7,000, flirted with a shoeless 10-year-old girl and plopped down in an empty seat on the main floor.

Later, he did a Q&A segment during which one woman hugged him and wouldn't let go ("I feel equal parts jubilated and violated," he said), and another fan asked if he could sing with Groban. After the star did the piano duties and Matt did the vocals, Josh did a spot-on vocal impression of Matt, adding more of a country music flavor.

Groban wasn't done joshing. After the Peter Gabriel-evoking world music "Machine" (the only piece that even flirted with uptempo), the star climbed back into the crowd and recruited a couple married for 35 years, a single girl (while he sang Beyoncé's "Single Ladies" in a perfect falsetto) and the shoeless 10-year-old to join him on stage, where he promised to serenade them. He poured wine for the couple and milk for the young women after asking if they were lactose-intolerant "because that would sound awful on these [inflated] couches."

The ad-lib may have caused cringes, but the songs "Broken Vow" and the operatic "Per Te" caused goosebumps. His tenor was not big, but it was true, finding the right emotions without going over the top. He left the bombast to his 13 musicians.

Groban understands, as he said during the encore, the difference between romantic, poetic and cheesy. So he then sat at the grand piano and played Neil Diamond's "Play Me" so elegantly that it seemed romantic, cheesy and rock 'n' roll all at once.
(Source)

An enchanted evening...

The second leg of the tour has kicked off in Minneapolis and here's the review of the show from Ross Raihala of TwinCities.com.
Like many a performer before him, Josh Groban wanted to make his current arena tour, which hit the Target Center on Friday night, feel more intimate. And, what do you know, he pulled it off.

The 30-year-old easy-listening favorite opened his two-hour performance by entering from the back of the main floor and climbing onto a satellite stage adorned only with a piano. Not only did that allow folks in the cheap seats a good peek at the star attraction, it gave the sense Groban was performing on a hole-in-the-wall cabaret stage, not the floor of a downtown Minneapolis basketball arena.

At first, that stripped-down style didn't translate well to the main stage, where Groban soon joined his 13-member backing band. With its blue spotlights and ancient Roman coliseum backdrop, it radiated with full-on PBS pledge drive grandeur.

As it turned out, though, the lack of live-action big screens and other moving parts kept the focus on Groban's rich, expressive vocals, as well as the lush
professionalism of his fellow musicians.

Groban began his career as a classical singer with pop leanings and, over the years, he's become increasingly adept at bridging those two worlds. Friday night's set list gave more attention to Groban's middle-of-the-road material than any of his tours to date.

Yeah, he still worked in more stately stuff, usually delivered in Spanish, Portuguese or Italian. But Groban really opened up when singing the radio-
friendly material from his latest album, "Illuminations." At the urging of producer Rick Rubin, Groban co-wrote much of the record with Minnesota's own Dan Wilson of Semisonic. In addition to giving Wilson, who has since moved to
Los Angeles, an on-stage shout-out for the help, Groban managed to work in most of their co-writes, including "Bells of New York City," "Higher Window," "War at Home" and "If I Walk Away."

Groban was most engaging, though, when simply interacting with the passionate, if reverent, audience of about 7,000. He answered questions from fans in the crowd, giving him the opportunity to air his quick wit.

When asked what one useless super power he wished he had, his charmingly rambling answer ended up with him pulling a woman from the audience for a hug and then announcing he wished his super power was the ability to hug the entire
audience at once. Aw, Josh!

Another audience member - who was savvy enough to know Groban has done this at other tour stops - asked if he could sing a song with the star. The fan chose "Remember When it Rained," a track from Groban's 2003 sophomore album "Closer," and the pair's impromptu duet proved to be a highlight of the evening. Later, Groban invited an older couple, a single young woman and a 10-year-old girl to sit on stage on inflatable sofas and enjoy a drink while he serenaded them with "Broken Vow."

He even managed to work in a fart joke. But coming from Mr. Josh Groban, it was a charming fart joke, indeed.
(Source)