In an era when autotuning has effectively masked the tone-deaf caterwauling of countless numbers of pop “vocalists,” it’s nice to hear a singer who can, you know, sing (are you listening, Ke$ha?). When Josh Groban breaks out that creamy baritone on a squishy pop ballad like “You Are Loved,” you stop caring that his style is perhaps too adult-contemporary for serious music fans, too popera for classical music lovers, and you just rinse in the rich glow of his voice.
Groban can still pull in crowd, as he showed to a well-attended concert at American Airlines Center on Monday night. What’s fascinating about his demographic is, there is no demographic; we sat next to another gay couple; a middle-aged straight couple sat in front of us; teenagers squealed at the 30-year-old mophead from floor seats; and an 8-year-old attended with her mom, a Hispanic woman in her 30s. Guys and gals wore Groban T-shirts (they pawed at him so much as he worked his way repeatedly through the throng, I thought he might wanna rename himself Josh Gropin’). It was an ecumenical musical experience, with everyone there knowing what they were getting and walking away satisfied.
It’s been almost exactly 10 years since Groban burst on the scene, rehearsing with Celine Dion at the Grammys then getting a features role on Ally McBeal, and going from gangly kid to romantic star almost overnight. Groban gravitates (he admits this) to sad, slow songs that showcase his deliberate, fully rounded vocal chops. He’s a bit Vegas showman, moving his performance space several times from an elevated platform at center court with an upright piano to his full band at the end of the arena, slapping hands as he moves through the audience.