Josh Groban
Vector Arena
April 30, 2016
4.5/5 Stars
By AARON DAHMEN

Internationally renowned singer-songwriter Josh Groban made a very welcome return to Vector Arena in Auckland on Saturday night, stunning a sold-out crowd into silence with his melodic and soulful tone.

Following hugely successful 2007 and 2013 tours, fans were expecting much of the same from an artist that has continued to take the world by storm, solidifying his place as the modern voice of classic hits.

And they got it.

Accompanied by an orchestra, band and choir, Groban put in a superb, powerful live performance that had the audience thrilled and satisfied from the start.

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Photo: Erica McQueen

Joking and anecdotal between songs, he cut a relaxed figure, presenting the awe-struck crowd with exactly what they bargained for, and more. The American singer gave the show an almost comedic touch with entertaining stories aplenty before delivering amazing singles as each song added a new aspect to his stellar performance.

With a short interval, the first part ended with a bang – Groban collaborating with Claire Lyon, Australian music superstar and lead singer from hit musical Phantom of the Opera. It proved to be a duet made in heaven with the pair performing All I Ask of You. And the crowd didn’t hold back in their approval, loud cheers and applause were what the doctor ordered here, as was the case throughout the night.

The announcement then that he was hitting Broadway in the ‘thaw’ almost lifted the roof as he went on to perform Anthem from Musical Chess with a 30-strong choir backing him. His voice rose to a crescendo before exclaiming ‘see you in a few’, the first part sealed and delivered to a crowd wanting even more.

And the second part was never going to disappoint. Opening with the orchestra, which performed flawlessly across the evening, Groban swaggered onto the stage, continuing to ooze confidence and pride as he launched into another hit, this time the Sweeney Todd Overture before changing tact completely and showcasing his versatility, performing in French for Le Temps des Cathedrales.

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Photo: Erica McQueen

Before the audience knew it, Lyon was also back – in glimmering white – and the two renewed their thrilling combination, this time in a duet for If I Loved You. Groban was then treated to a standing ovation from some members in the crowd as he performed Bring Him Home, before getting a total audience ovation for You’ll Never Walk Alone, dedicated to the 96 Liverpool fans who lost their lives in the Hillsborough Disaster. And that was it!

Although, as the program suggested, the best was possibly yet to come…

Because the encore took a show that was already remarkable to a whole new level. Performing the classics, You Raise Me Up and Somewhere Over the Rainbow, Groban had the audience experience all emotions possible. A roller coaster of oral beauty that kept fans completely immersed in the moment. Tears of joy flowed as audiences stood before finally the curtain did fall, leaving fans absolutely convinced of the ticket price.

With his four solo albums certified as multi-platinum, the hits fans were treated to tonight were all part of his latest studio album, Stages. A collection of some of the greatest musical theatre songs of all time. The album debuted at No.1 in the UK earlier this year, adding to incredible career sales already surpassing 25 million.

As is evident, he has built himself quite a reputation, having already performed in the Royal Albert Hall in London, as a part of the Presidential Inauguration ceremonies, and at the legendary Rose Bowl in Pasadena.

He can now add Auckland’s Vector Arena to that list.

Because although he has already performed here in the past – this one was most certainly his most memorable.

 Check out Josh Groban on Spotify.

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