As choir of voices flow through the massive Amway Arena, a nearly sold-out audience sits in utter awe witnessing a great feat of musical excellence. Multi-platinum record selling artist Josh Groban’s performance on November 9 opened the night with Judith Hill, competitor on The Voice who made it to the Top 8. Beginning the night with a sweet medley of songs, including “Just Call My Name (I’ll Be There)” and “Feeling Good,” Hill had very a melodic voice, yet it was difficult to understand what she was saying. Throughout the night, it was hard to make out the words to her songs and whether it was due to articulation issues or acoustic problems in the arena. Regardless, Hill did make an amazing effort to put all she had into her performance, as was evident by the goosebumps on my arm during “Beautiful Life” and its revival at the end of her set.
Utilizing a circular stage in the middle of arena to perform 360 degrees, Groban’s diverse set ranged from work dating back to his debut album to his more recent releases, as well as beautiful Latin and Spanish songs whose power transcended any and all language barriers. Opening the night with “Brave,” Groban’s violinist, trumpeter, and string section set a precedent of being larger than life, playing with great precision and fluidity that helped set the stage for the night’s show. While Groban began the night a little rough, sounding a bit pitchy at first, by the time “False Alarms” began, he seemed to be completely in his element.
An aspect of Groban’s live performance that many may not be known by just hearing his music is just how personable of an entertainer he can be. He would occasionally break in between his performance to address the crowd and talk about Orlando, how glad he was to see everyone, and many personal aspects of his life. Sitting in the crowd, you felt even more connected to the songs as the night went on because of how welcoming Groban made one feel to be in the audience. During the mini Q&A portion of the night, a woman asked him that if Google was to make a “Google Doodle” of him, what he would think it should look like? At first, he seemed quite bewildered, seeming to have no idea what was just asked, but after a little explanation from the crowd, everything clicked. He responded that he would love for at least one of the “o’s” to be a mouth and that whenever you wrote something, it would be “repeated back to you in a baritone singing voice.” He then proceeds to say “POOOOORN” in the most operatic ways you could imagine, as the crowd erupted in laughter.
Highlights of the show include an instrumental performance of Aerosmith’s “Dream On” that blew me away, Groban’s duet with Hill singing “The Prayer” which caused many in the arena to tear up, and his encore performance of “You Raise Me Up,” my favorite song from his discography by far. Overall Josh Groban did not disappoint. Looking back at my notes, I described his performance as a “crescendoing breeze that flows into your ears and wraps around your heart.” Honestly, there is no better way to describe the night’s events.
P.S.: While I usually don’t do this, I wanted to take this brief moment and add a special thank you to Jeff, a security guard at the Amway Arena’s admin entrance. There was a bit of difficulty actually picking up my press passes for the night’s event, but he was a phenomenal individual who took the time to make sure that me and my guest were taken care of and were not stranded outside the arena for the whole night. I know it may not have seemed like much to you, but it meant the world to us.