My Journey through Breast Cancer

On October 11, 2013, I was diagnosed with Stage II Triple Negative Breast Cancer (TNBC) ... or as we like to call it, extreme measures for a nap (EMFN). For a while, this blog will be my cancer journal. Enter at your own risk.

27 August 2007

concert review

On Saturday night, Caleb took me to the Josh Groban concert at the Honda Center (formerly better known as the Anaheim Pond). It was my birthday present, just in case you're thinking you didn't know Caleb like you thought you did. This was all me, having been a Josh Groban fan since my sister introduced me to him several years ago. Caleb, being the wonderful husband he is, knew I'd been wanting to go, and so not only bought me the tickets, but agreed to be my date.

We arrived at the Pond a little late, (having lost track of time at dinner) but fortunately there was an opening act, so we hadn't missed anything. We were even MORE grateful for the opening act when, upon finally arriving at the doors, we had to wait in line for guards with metal-detector wands to frisk us! Who knew the Josh Groban crowd was such a rough one? We finally got in and wound our way up to the uppermost level, and eventually found our places in the great sardine box of arena seating, settling ourselves literally into the middle of Row N, seats 7 and 8.

Now, whether or not you're a Josh Groban fan, it cannot be denied the man can sing. At just 25, he's been dubbed "The Voice," and the name fits. He could sing the phone book and still move an audience to tears. For me this is most evident as he sings in French, Spanish, Italian ... I have no idea what he's saying, but he can still stir the emotions.

However, fan or not, I wasn't sure what the evening would hold. I expected him to be a bit awkward, try to be funny and not succeed, have a hard time interacting with his audience. I have no idea what gave me this impression, but I couldn't have been further from the truth.

The concert opened with a LOT of fanfare ... an enormous stage with a seven-person band, backed by a 12-person orchestra. There were lights and video to accompany every song. It was a bit overproduced in my opinion, and yet his vocal ability still outshone everything else vying for attention. His voice could probably handle a construction zone in the background.

Near the beginning of the concert, he stopped and had a short discussion with the audience. He readily admitted his music is gushy and romantic. He is keenly aware of his mostly female, mostly older audience, and even admits his music can be "gag-me-with-a-spoon romantic." And then he went on to say he speaks through his music better than with actual conversation, and encourages any man in the room, who might have the same problem, to go ahead and use his music to speak to the woman in his life. "Here honey, track 3. My words through Groban's mouth," he says. And then promises those men they'll have a good night. He's probably right.

Maybe it was his comfort level with himself that made him so likable. He knows exactly what kind of audience he attracts, exactly how his music is viewed by the public, and he's exactly OK with that. As he runs all over the stage and interacts with the crowd, you can tell he simply loves what he does. And he'll never make any excuses for why he's not in any other kind of music.

The other thing that struck me was his ability to treat a crowd of 15,000 like they were only 150. Half-way through the concert, after an amazing violin solo by his lead violinist, Luce Micarelli (we think it was the famous Led Zeppelin solo), he showed up in the audience to sing "In Her Eyes." He walked down the first tier level onto the back part of the floor, and then through the crowd on the floor to get to the stage. Even for the 4 bodyguards and the cameraman, he was nearly overcome by the crowd. (We think this is the reason we were frisked on the way in.) But he shook hands with fans and let his picture be taken, all the way back to the stage.

And later in the show he sat on the edge of the stage to sing a song from the musical "Sweeney Todd," (as he so nonchalantly put it, "The play about a butcher who kills people and then his wife turns them into meat pies and sells them."). As he sat singing, he was also signing autographs and invited a young girl (7 or 8 years old) to sit next to him on the stage. He asked her if she'd sign all the autographs on that side.

At another moment he asked if the audience would mind if he just did karaoke the rest of the night ... and then proceeded to do spot-on renditions of Bon Jovi's "Dead or Alive" and Elton John's "Tiny Dancer," which he had to stop quickly, claiming he didn't know any more of the words. Again, it was like he was sitting in a living room playing for family and friends.

Throughout the show he accepted gifts from fans, including a cowboy hat, "because, that makes sense," a child's drawing of his dog, handcuffs, and a giant fortune cookie. He also accepted an over-sized check for $5,000 made out to his foundation, which helps children in need around the world. And with each person who came to the stage, he chatted with them like they were the only person in the arena.

My only critique of the evening was the apparent fact that The Pond is not set up for concerts. The music didn't bounce well in the huge arena and left the ears ringing with out-of-whack resonance. There were a few songs that still sounded clear, including my favorite "Remember When it Rained."

I think in the future I would love to see Josh Groban in a setting built for acoustics, like the Hollywood Bowl or the Greek Theater. That would be amazing, I think. Even so, Saturday night's concert was even better than I'd anticipated, I think mostly because Josh himself was such a comfortable, self-effacing, and engaging performer.

Well, and he can sing.

The evening ended with the obligatory encores ... three this time. The first one he ended by playing a drum solo himself. The second encore he finally sang his famous "You Raise Me Up." Yes, its a bit ... schmaltzy. But you just can't help but get caught up in it. Its a beautiful song. And the final encore was a song not on any of his albums, but one of his favorites. I don't know what it was called, but the lyrics went something like "this won't last forever, but you can sit by my side today." I really liked the song, and hope it ends up on an album someday. It was an appropriately sappy ending for an evening of gag-me-with-a-spoon sentimentality ... and I loved it all.

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