Supporting the Arts in Western Massachusetts and Beyond

July 6, 2019

REVIEW: Tanglewood, Josh Groban

Tanglewood, Lee, MA
One performance only
By Shera Cohen

Photo by Hilary Scott
I first “met” Josh Groban through Ally McBeal. That must have been approximately 15 years go. He portrayed the geeky teen at the prom; looking rather awkward, shy, and schlumpy. His acting chops would not win awards; only passable. Simultaneously with the legalese and courtroom jargon holding the scenes together, Ally and Josh’s somewhat oddball personalities developed a comradery. Are you waiting for the BUT? If you wait long enough, good things are bound to happen. At the end of the show, Groban’s adolescent character walks onto the stage, looks at the band, looks at Ally, moves close to the mic and sings. Sings with a capital “S.”

I searched the TV Guide listing for the actor’s name. Who is this young guy? The lyrics flowed sweetly, delicately, and gloriously. I want to hear him again. Alas, I was not taping the show, nor had YouTube, streaming, etc. been invented yet.

What else could I do to ensure that this TV performance was not a one-time shot of pure musical joy for me? I decided to became a “Grobanite.” I was too old to be in a fan club, so Grobanite seemed to work well. Radio, records, CDs, DVDs, helped assuage my habit. Yet, nothing bests a live performance. And no outdoor venue (at least in this part of the country) is as perfect for Josh Groban (or any musician, for that matter) as Tanglewood. In fact, he must have reiterated my words on the grandeur of the Berkshires, specifically Tanglewood at least five times in short chats with the audience throughout his 90-minute concert. It was obvious that he was in awe of this performance site as the audience was in his talent. Last night’s performance marked #4 for me. That doesn’t include his Broadway debut in the leading role in the Tony Award-nominated musical Natasha, Pierre & The Great Comet of 1812.

Backed by his own musicians as well as several from the BSO, Groban sang most of his hits. I was a bit disappointed that he omitted a few of his more famous pieces. However, he interjected and balanced his program with lovely and somewhat haunting Russian, Spanish, and French music.

Needless to say, the audience awaited “You Raise Me Up,” Groban’s signature song. No surprise that he saved the best for last, or near last. Yet, he added a new spin on the arrangement. In addition to his pitch perfect, whispering words, and meaningful message, Groban insisted that “Raise Me Up” become a sing-along. Forgoing the flawlessness of Groban’s voice for the uneven 8,000 (the shed full to capacity and the lawn about one-third full) audience members, seemed the perfect thing to do. It was an evening of community with Josh Groban bringing it together.