Josh Groban hosted the Tony Awards and starred in Netflix’s The Good Cop. However, he returned to his musical roots and crisscrossed the world to perform his greatest hits on his tour that hit Talking Stick Resort Arena on Friday, October 26.
When Groban took to the stage, fans cheered as red and orange circled the crowd and eventually landed on the stage where they were fashioned into a curtain. The faux curtains parted, revealing Groban who dove into “Bigger than Us” backed by a symphony.
After performing a second song, “You are Loved,” off his Awake album, Groban said hello to the crowd. He shared his different adventures around Phoenix the day before the show, from riding bikes on streets with presidents’ names to grabbing a beer in the arts district. He added that it was special for him to be playing at Talking Stick Resort Arena because he performed the National Anthem at a Suns game nearly 20 years ago.
A couple songs later he played “Granted” off his latest album, Bridges. Judging by the crowd’s screams, it was a hit. Groban’s powerful voice combined with lyrics like, “maybe it’s time to bet on yourself,” and “listen to your heart” created feelings of hope and excitement in the crowd. With this song, Groban wanted to inspire listeners to chase their dreams because their time on Earth is finite.
Halfway through the show, he left the stage and reappeared on a satellite stage at the back of the arena. While there, he sang multiple songs, including “Lullaby” from his album Awake and “Falling Slowly” with show-opener Idina Menzel. Fans swayed to the slow ballads as Groban and Menzel’s voices harmoniously danced with each other.
Groban’s next showstopper performance was his song “River” from Bridges as he returned to the main stage. Before the song, Groban opened up about his struggles with mental health. Although he said the internet is an easy way to bully, he admitted it was also helpful because he could find people to support him. People could lend a “cyber-helping” hand, in Groban’s words, to lift people up.
“River” was inspired by mental health and the struggles people face. His lyrics paint a picture of a man too lost and lonely to do anything other than sit by a river. The lyrics, “Some days I’m too proud to ask for help,” transitioned well into Groban’s message, “be brave” and ask for help.
Near the end of the show, Groban performed his breakthrough hit, “You Raise Me Up” from Closer then finished by singing “Bridge Over Troubled Water” from Bridges. For both songs, the NAU choir joined him on stage, which added a personal Arizona touch to the concert.
At the end of the show, rainbow-colored lights darted around the audience, mimicking the excited frenzy of the fans in the arena. Finally, Groban gave a final bow and the “light” curtain from the beginning of the concert closed on his show.
Menzel opened the show with a performance as glittery as her silver-reflective jumpsuit. Her songs ranged from Broadway hits to Disney classics that had the audience singing along the entire time.
Much to the excitement of Broadway fans, Menzel momentarily reprised her role as Elphaba Thropp from Wicked, singing “The Wizard and I.” She strutted across the stage as she belted out the famous lyrics, “My future is unlimited.”
Frozen fans cheered when she sang two songs from the iconic film. In addition the obvious “Let It Go,” Menzel performed “Do You Want to Build a Snowman?” originally sung by Kristen Bell.
Menzel also made sure to perform some original songs in her lineup. Her powerful voice filled the arena with lyrics like, “I hope for a hero to save me,” from the song “I Stand” off her 2008 album I Stand.
Her flashy, high-energy performance was a tough act to follow, but Groban’s smooth vocals and clever wit kept the crowd cheering and singing along the rest of the night.