14 July, 2011

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."

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