Illuminations, with a four-leg sold-out Before We Begin Tour. The second stop on the tour was on Sunday night in San Diego.
Josh had stated that the intent behind the mini-tour was to get ready for a bigger tour after the album release and to let the fans in on the preparation process by bringing them into his living room. Fittingly, half of the stage had a living room setup, with two couches, a rug and lamps, while the other half had the musical instruments set up.
With the intimate set-up, fan interaction was a big part of the show, whether called for or not. For the most part it was, but that didn't stop me from rolling my eyes at the people who kept shouting "ALLY MCBEAL!" or "YOU RAISE ME UP!". Or stop Josh from ignoring them. Heh. One guy yelled a couple of times to bring the dog back (Josh's dog was with him on the sofa when the curtain was raised), and Josh answered him back by quipping, "This is why you should never share a stage with animals or children."
Josh did conduct Q&As between songs. Hilariously, one of the first questions asked was "When are you coming back?". The guy had sung two or three songs at that point. He got some good mileage over that question, using self-deprecating humor to joke about the audience wanting him to leave while simultaneously asking him back. He was also asked if he was going to work with David Foster again. I don't know the backstory with him and Foster, but I got the impression that Josh working with rock producer Rick Rubin on this new album may not have gone over so well with Foster? Regardless, Josh said they'd be working together on the next album, maybe next year.
During one of his Q&As, Josh was asked about how he trains his voice for both classical and pop singing (or something to that effect). He went into some story about singing karaoke (and demonstrated by singing the opening line of "Don't Stop Believing" and a made-up second-line about the song behind too high) and how his voice would sound like Bill Clinton (with another impersonation) the day after. Later, while introducing "Higher Window", which he co-wrote with Dan Wilson of Semisonic, he sang a line of "Closing Time."
It really amused me how quickly Josh can go from total dork to serious classical singer in an instant. One minute he's making Teletubbie noises, then several seconds later he's singing a classical song in a different language. So hilarious. He's also very self-deprecating and self-aware. For example, he was talking about social media and said there was a guy who tweeted: Do you think when Josh Groban is recording music he thinks "OK, but will people be able to professionally figure skate to this?" He thought it was funny. And said it's much better than saying "Who's Josh Groban?", although he does get that a lot. He also talked about his stint on Glee and said that one of the A Cafellas from his episode was in line at his show the previous night in Palm Desert. He also said that he asked Ryan Murphy to write him as a creep and that one of his greatest honors was having Jane Lynch say "Kiss my ass, Josh Groban!"
One of THE highlights of the night for many people, I think, was Josh singing "Broken Vow." Before the song, he asked if there were any long-time couples in the audience. A couple in the orchestra section volunteered that they had been together for 39 years, so Josh invited them to listen to the next song on stage with him. This prompted a 20-something guy near me to stand up and ask Josh if he could bring his 89 year-old grandmother up on stage (omg this was the sweetest thing EVER. I think she was about to start crying when she got up there), and another guy yelled out asking if he and his husband could go up too, so they made their way up on stage as well. Additionally, a woman who had approached the stage before all this happened asking for some wine (no, really. This happened.) got on stage, as did another woman who snuck up behind Josh and squeezed her way onto the couches. The girl who creepily yelled out that his music was playing at her mother's wake did NOT make it on stage (Oh. Em. Gee.)
I don't remember all the songs he sang (mostly because I don't know the titles of the Spanish or Italian songs). The songs I do recall him singing were:
"Changing Colours" (Great Lake Swimmers cover)
(Spanish song - maybe "Un Dia Llegara"?)
"Gira con Me"
"Cinema Paradiso (Se)"
"Play Me" (Neil Diamond cover)
"Wandering Kind" (instrumental - piano and accordion)
It was a great concert. He may not have sung a lot of songs, but it was really such a unique opportunity with the constant interaction and chatter with the fans. And when he did sing, WOW. His voice is seriously one of the best voices I've ever heard. He sings with such clarity and perfection. And his voice fills up the room so easily. He probably could have sung without a microphone. That's how strong his voice is.
They weren't allowing video-taping (and were being VERY vigilant about it), but I ninja'd two videos anyway.