The last time Josh Groban was in London on tour (the Straight to You tour) he played the Hammersmith Apollo, a relatively small, pretty intimate venue. Those descriptors can’t be applied to The O2, the venue for this year’s All That Echoes tour.
The cavernous arena at The O2 should have made for a very different kind of gig – this should have been a stadium concert, but it actually retained the intimacy that Groban created at the Apollo.
Granted, this time there was no bringing people up on stage, seating them on a sofa and sharing a drink with them, but there was still a Q&A with fans, and Groban’s trademark self-deprecating comments.
The show started with Brave, the first song on the newest Groban album, All That Echoes. While this was a show that included songs from earlier in Groban’s career (including February Song and Machine), most of the numbers played were off the new album. Personally, there were a few old favourites I’d like to have seen performed, but that’s just my wish list.
Groban did, however, perform my favourite song off the new album – Happy in my Heartache. While I love it recorded, it’s even better live.
As is everything. Groban’s voice is more than big enough to fill The O2, and his band are phenomenal. A particular favourite moment of mine was the musical interlude about half way through the show, which began with an amazing violin solo by lead violinist Christian Hebel. I could have watched a whole show of just music by Hebel and the rest of the band, and Groban himself came out and showed off his skills on the drums during the number.
As a local touch, Groban was accompanied on stage by London choir Ovation during I Believe (When I Fall In Love It Will Be Forever) and You Raise Me Up, and props go to them for being utterly brilliant.
Groban filled the arena with two hours of gorgeous music, interspersed with the kind of humour and conversation that reminds you not all music stars are manufactured and kind of plastic. Despite the hugeness of the setting, this concert felt as intimate as if it had been performed in a room half the size (or smaller).
For those looking for a stunning voice, well written songs and highly talented musicians, a Groban show should be just your bag.