Google+ Two-Wheeled Tourist: Josh Groban's Straight to You Tour @ Schottenstein Center (August 5, 2011)


Josh Groban's Straight to You Tour @ Schottenstein Center (August 5, 2011)

And Josh Groban has proven once again why he's one of the top performers of our generation...

When I found out in March that Josh Groban was coming to Columbus for the first time in a several years, I had to make sure that I could secure tickets for his show. My chances for awesome tickets were very high because Josh Groban Fan Club members received first dibs on tickets one day before the general public for major tours. So after debating between seeing him at the new CONSOL Energy Center arena in Pittsburgh or the smaller and more intimate Schottenstein Center at Ohio State, I decided on the latter because of ticket price and the fact that I was getting floor seats. So just on a whim, I decided on smack dab in the middle, section F5.

I brought one of my good friends with me to the show and was quite impressed with the location of our seats in relation to the main stage. She had never seen Josh perform live before so this was pretty exciting for her as well. However, we both realized that our seats were even more special than we had originally thought...

For the first part of the concert, we were entertained by the opening act, jazz pianist Eric Lewis, also known by his stage name, "ELEW." His style of piano play was extremely unconventional; he played the piano standing up and even reaching directly into the piano's strings, pulling and pounding away at them to create some of the strange sound effects included in his renditions of very popular songs.

Here's the stage from our vantage point in F5. The "ELEW" banner was for the opening act, avant-guarde jazz pianist Eric Lewis.
For the main event, we had our eyes fixated on the main stage as his orchestra came out and made their way to the front of the stage. As they began to play, we noticed many members of the audience turning their attention to the other side of the arena. It turned out that he would kick off the concert from the smaller stage in the middle of the venue, more specifically the tall stage platform directly behind our floor section F5!

Josh starts the show less than 30 feet away from our seats!
And so came out the phone cameras and videos. It was a surreal experience to get that up close to a performer that I have admired and enjoyed listening to for all these years. The lights were quite bright so I had to tweak the phone setting to get it just right, but that was definitely an awesome experience. Make it even more fun, Josh had to run past us several times to head to the larger stage, so there were times where we were less than an arm's length away!

Josh plays "February Song" from his "Closer" album as part of his opening act.
A unique tidbit about this stop in Columbus from Josh himself: his dad's side of the family is from the Columbus area so he had quite a bit of relatives out in the audience. (In a related note, I had the opportunity to watch him in his hometown of Los Angeles during his first tour in 2004.)

Josh performs "Oceano" from his "Closer" album. The background staging was modeled to look like an old building's ruins where projected graphics were displayed directly from them.
A unique part of this tour is that Josh really tried to make the concert a lot more intimate and interactive. There were several parts of the performance where he would stop and speak to the audience about some of his adventures on tour. There was even a portion of the show where he received three questions from the audience (submitted via text message before the show) that he had to answer. For this show, he ended up (1) ad-libbing a song about a fan named Kathleen, (2) trying to name how many languages he's sung in, and (3) singing a duet of "Closer" with a fan who happened to be a female tenor, something he had never done before. Unlike his other shows that were a lot more rehearsed, he seemed so much more relaxed and casual in this one, and it showed all the way down to the sneakers he wore to run from one part of the stage to the other.

I don't know how much closer you can get to "The Voice," but here you go.
Josh busts out the drumsticks and plays through one of his songs. And you thought he could just sing and play the piano.

Josh went through a wide selection of songs from his several albums, refreshing our memories of his early roots with pieces such as "Alla Luce Del Sole," "Alejate," "February Song," and captivating us with his new releases such as "The Wandering Kind" and "Bells of New York City."

Josh and his long-time musical director, Tariq Akoni (left), team up for "Galileo" from Josh's newest studio album, "Illuminations." I had the chance to meet Tariq in 2004 when I was waiting by the stage door before his show in Los Angeles at the Shrine Auditorium. He even signed my CD album!
I'm proud to say that as a seven-year member of the Josh Groban Fan Club, I've seen him in three out of four world tours he's done since he started, beginning with his 2004 "Closer Tour" (Shrine Auditorium, Los Angeles, CA), his 2007 "Awake" tour (SaveMart Center, Fresno, CA), and his current "Straight to You Tour." His 2010 "Before We Begin Tour" was limited to only nine cities and I couldn't make it to Toronto, Canada to see one of his few stops on the East Coast.

To have seen him grow as a singer and as a performer throughout the years has been lots of fun and I will continue to find every opportunity to watch him live whenever I can. And if you haven't heard Josh sing live, you're missing quite an amazing performance from a true showman.