Groban delivers crowd-pleasing set of favorites at KeyArena | Concert review
Concert review: Josh Groban’s elegant in-the-round performance at KeyArena on Friday included stratospheric vocals, humor, and a range of favorites — from Don McLean to Jimmy Webb to Stevie Wonder.
Special to The Seattle Times
Josh Groban can be a pretty fun guy to be around.
When he’s not wowing you with his stratospheric vocals, he’s cracking jokes, telling stories and teasing fans.
His concert Friday night at KeyArena, with opening act and duet partner Judith Hill (star of the film “20 Feet from Stardom”), as well as his seven-piece band and orchestra musicians and singers, was as lighthearted as it was elegant and virtuosic.
Announcing cheerfully that the Seahawks would win the Super Bowl (which was greeted by loud cheers), Groban said he loved Seattle for its coffee, books, rainy weather and cooler temperatures, affording him a chance to bundle up in his favorite sweaters.
Self-effacing and good-humored, the Los Angeles native joked about being an adolescent prodigy with a big, booming voice. “I was a freak,” he said.
Performing in-the-round, Groban opened with “Brave,” which brought a roar from concertgoers who have followed his career since his appearances in the early 2000s on TV’s “Ally McBeal.”
Groban rolled out a crowd-pleasing set of favorites, including “False Alarms,” “February Song,” “Un Alma Mas” (featuring Daniel Rosenboom on trumpet) and “Vincent” (aka “Starry, Starry Night”), the 1972 Don McLean tribute to Vincent van Gogh. A lover of Italian songs, he sang a tender “Alla Luce Del Sole.”
Stopping to answer questions from fans, he strolled up to a mother and her 8-year-old daughter for a quick photo.
Afterward, he sang Jimmy Webb’s “The Moon Is a Harsh Mistress” (featuring pianist Ruslan Sirota) and another Italian song, “Sincera.” A powerful instrumental version of Aerosmith’s “Dream On,” with Groban on drums, was a pleasant surprise.
Violinist Christian Habel accompanied Groban on the traditional Irish song “She Moved Through the Fair.” And Hill joined him for a duet of “The Prayer,” the song he performed at the 1999 Grammy Awards with Celine Dion, with backing from the Seattle Choral Company.
Groban saved some of his best songs for the finale — “I Believe When I Fall in Love It Will Be Forever” (Stevie Wonder),” “You Raise Me Up” and Charlie Chaplin’s timeless “Smile.”