01 August, 2011

Mixing music, humor at Mohegan Sun (Review)...

By Ray Kelly, The Republican
Somewhere between wandering the Mohegan Sun Arena floor to chat with the audience, pouring wine for a couple marking their 30th wedding anniversary, drumming a solo after his band played “Live and Let Die,” dancing (poorly), and ribbing his fans, Josh Groban found time to sing 19 songs and perform an instrumental on piano he composed at the age of 12.

Before a sold-out crowd of 10,000 Grobanites, the affable prince of operatic pop with the boyish good looks and self-deprecating humor turned out an amazing performance.

As his 13-piece band played an instrumental version of “Straight to You” on the main stage, Groban entered from the rear of the arena and seated himself at a nearby piano. He kicked off the nearly two-hour set with “Changing Colours” – a concert favorite he has not recorded in the studio. The 30-year-old California native followed with “February Song” and "You Are Loved (Don’t Give Up)” from 2006’s “Awake” album before wading through the crowd and onto the main stage.

“You guys are polite, the other row was grabby,” Groban told one fan, before adding to another, “You smell great (like) a combination of Chanel No. 5 and Bubba’s BBQ.”

On the main stage, Groban sang “Oceano” in Italian and “Alejate” in Spanish before performing “Bells of New York City,” a tribute to his adopted hometown of New York. It was the first of seven tracks from his latest album, “Illuminations.” He returned to “Illuminations” throughout the night for “Higher Window,” “War at Home,” “Voce Existe Em Mim,” “Galileo (Someone Like You)”, “If I Walk Away” and the piano-led instrumental “The Wandering Kind.”

The new material worked well alongside familiar concert favorites like “Machine” (originally recorded with Herbie Hancock) and “Weeping” (a collaboration with Ladysmith Black Mambazo).

Prior the start of the concert, Groban’s camp sought text message questions from audience members.

Groban fielded a few half-way through the night. “Let’s open up this box of chocolates and see where the nuts are,” he joked.

One not-so-nutty question led Groban to a duet on “The Prayer” with a fan who identified herself as Amy, a former opera student. What Groban billed as “Mohegan Sun Idol” turned out to be one of the more memorable moments of the night.

While the evening was full of song and good humor, Groban paused to discuss social causes important to him. He asked fans to support musical educational programs for youngsters and better care for returning veterans. The singer recently visited Bethesda Naval Hospital in Maryland.

Groban brought the set to a close with the bittersweet “Broke Vow” and the moving “Per Te” before returning for a cover of Neil Diamond’s “Play Me” and his signature hit “You Raise Me Up.”

No comments:

Post a Comment

Have a thought? Let me know what you think...