As the weather turns bitterly cold and the first winter snowflakes tenderly blanket the ground there is often no better way to pass an afternoon than curling up with a favorite fuzzy blanket, a cup of hot chocolate, and the soft, sultry music of Josh Groban. Just in time for the holiday season, Reprise Records released Josh Groban Live at the Greek, a CD/DVD combo of select songs from Groban’s latest album, Closer, which dropped last November, and a DVD containing performances at Los Angeles ‘ famed historic Greek theater, the last stop on his 2004 nationwide tour. Though the CD is amazing and displays Groban’s vocal power and emotional depth, it is the DVD that is the prize in this combo deal. To hear is good, but to hear and see the talented phenomenon onscreen is unbeatable.That is, of course with the exception of seeing him perform live.What is intriguing about Groban is the 22-year-old’s ability to attract fans of all ages. The opening shots of the DVD show a packed Greek theater of children, teens, twenty-somethings, retirees, and everyone in-between. Though the audiences at Groban’s concerts and those who purchase his CDs tend to be mostly female, males can also appreciate the strong, soothing notes of the singer’s voice. Also endearing is Groban’s natural stage presence, dorky persona, and genuine love of performing in front of a crowd. He interacts with those in attendance and makes them feel welcome. It’s much like watching a close friend sing in a school musical, but on a bigger scale.
The DVD’s footage begins with “Oceano,” an uplifting operatic piece that shows off Groban’s natural singing talent. But during “Canto Alla Vita” Groban shows that vocals aren’t all he has going for him. At the end of the song he jumps behind the drums and finishes the set with the expertise of a seasoned drummer, amazing the crowd, based on the volume of screams and the wild flailing of a sea of little green glow sticks. Throughout the DVD Groban also continued to amaze the crowd with his piano skills, especially during “Remember When it Rained, a song penned by Groban.
Also featured on the DVD is violin prodigy Lucia Micarelli, a 20-year-old former student of both Julliard and the Manhattan School of Music. Micarelli accompanied Groban on several songs as she performed barefoot, gliding across the stage playing with equal amounts of passion and ferocity. She was an exceptional addition to the tour and CD and complemented Groban’s vocals perfectly.
Those unfamiliar with Groban may recognize his two most famous songs, “To Where You Are,” a ballad with music written by Richard Marx and which Groban performed on the 2001 season finale of Ally McBeal, and “You Raise Me Up,” which he sang at the opening ceremonies of Superbowl XXXVIII in January. These two hits will pull curious listeners in, but the rest of the DVD performances will make them stay. What also makes this CD/ DVD combination perfect for a holiday gift is the special bonus performance of “Believe,” which appears on the soundtrack to “The Polar Express,” themovie based on Chris Van Allsburg’s book of the same name.Josh Groban Live at theGreek is an amazing disc setthat is sure to become a timelessclassic perfect for chilly winterdays and as a holiday gift hit.