Not even 30 years old, and already Josh Groban has sold more than 25 million albums worldwide, performed at numerous high-profile venues, and generated a massive following of devoted fans. In his third PBS special, Groban performs for an intimate gathering of fans at the Rose Theatre at Frederick P. Rose Hall in New York City. Originally taped for PBS stations (and aired in May and June of this year), this concert has since been released onto DVD so that those Groban fans who missed the PBS airings can still catch their favorite baritone in concert.
And this 12-song, hour-long special is surely everything any fan would want, with original songs, a few musical numbers, and two high-powered duets (one with Chris Botti and one with the inimitable Herbie Hancock). It’s unlikely that the producers of this special could have found an audience more receptive to both Groban’s performances and his side stories (he discusses his career, his idols, and naming his dog Sweeney after the main character in Sweeney Todd).Â For those who are already invested in Groban’s career and his performances, there’s no question that this is an essential addition to their collection, but for the rest of us – or at least to me – it feels a bit indulgent and (dare I say) slightly lackluster. Groban is invested in his performance, sure, but he spends much of his time on a stool crooning to the audience. I know he just makes what is most definitely a difficult performance look easy because of his enormous talent, but it left me feeling slightly distracted. His duet with Herbie Hancock doesn’t come til the very end of the special, but it’s worth waiting for as it showcases both Groban’s vocalization, Hancock’s jazzy piano style, and Groban’s youthful ability to nail his own performance and be enamored with a fellow performer at the same time.
All in all, this is an hour worth checking out for any fan of music.
Zach’s Rating: B
Perfect For: Anyone who thinks Josh Groban is just dreamy
Stay Away if: You’re not already (like Lisa Simpson) a self-proclaimed “Grobanite”
To purchase Josh Groban: An Evening in New York City, visit Josh Groban’s website