Not many performers who’ve come of age in the past decade can rightly call themselves all-around entertainers, but as borne out by recent entries on his resume, Josh Groban has a legitimate claim to the title. Between acting gigs on shows like “The Office,” being chosen as the designated Top Ten crooner for “The Late Show With David Letterman” and pushing the envelope musically by enlisting Rick Rubin to man the controls for his platinum-certified Warner Brothers album “Illuminations,” Groban has cast a wide net – and proved himself capable of hauling in some hefty catches.
At this, the final show of his North American tour, Groban managed to showcase all those facets – the puckish charm, the sometimes salty humor and, above all, that still-supple, increasingly burnished tenor. That last aspect came through surprisingly effectively, given the sometimes unforgiving acoustics of the venue, and while Groban indulged his fan base’s taste for treacle at times – taking to the piano for a puffed up “Bells of New York” and veering into vocal gymnastics for their own sake on “You Raise Me Up” – he spiced things up with regularity.
Groban ramped up the interactive aspect of the perf with a lengthy question-answer session that drew plenty of laughs — and led to an interlude focused on his Letterman-derived “Kanye West’s Greatest Tweets” bit (featuring material culled directly from the rapper’s over-the-top 140 character musings). To keep things interesting, he trotted out a brace of choice covers – hitting a home run with his version of Neil Diamond’s “Play Me” – and even took a seat behind the drums, on which he proved serviceable (if no threat to the memory of Buddy Rich).
Newer material – a brisk version of “Machine,” for instance – generated good aud response, but tried and true tunes brought more folks to their feet, although oddly, some of Groban’s more iconic songs (“Awake” and “Remember When It Rained”) were omitted from the 16-song set. Groban did push most of the right buttons, though, as evidenced by a stellar smile and a duet with fellow David Foster protégé Josh Page on “The Prayer.”
Given that the show capped more than six months on the road, Groban showed a terrific amount of enthusiasm and energy – and that was returned in kind by a crowd that looked to be looking forward to his return.