Josh Groban returns for his third PBS special with Soundstage Presents: Josh Groban – An Evening in New York City. In this special, Josh Groban performs favorite songs from his best-selling albums, including "Awake," "Alla Luce del Sol," "You are Loved (Don't Give Up)," and others, plus a cover of the song "Not While I'm Around" from the Stephen Sondheim musical, Sweeney Todd. This special event even features guest appearances from trumpeter Chris Botti on "Broken Vow" and, for the first time live, acclaimed jazz pianist Herbie Hancock on "Machine."
This special was taped at the Rose Hall at Jazz at Lincoln Center in New York City, which allowed for the concert to have a more intimate, theater-like feel. Instead of peering through blinding lights into a sea of screaming fans, Groban had the chance to perform softer, more acoustic versions of his work in a relaxed, comfortable setting.
This approach to artists' music has been the trademark of Soundstage, and helps viewers see musicians in a simpler, more human light. Instead of balancing music with wild fans, over-the-top lighting, pyrotechnics, and other crazy concert tour gimmicks, Soundstage forces artist and viewers to focus exclusively on the music and, in some ways, allows viewers to experience a musician's work in ways they never have before.
Here, Josh Groban gives a stunning performance where his smooth baritone voice has the chance to breathe and take on new life. There's no rush, there's no fighting with flashy stage gimmicks for attention and, most importantly, there are no screaming fans covering up Groban's amazing voice.
While this concert is only an hour long, it features a stunning, flawless performance by Groban in a fresh light. Fans of Groban will enjoy the opportunity to see the singer in a more simple environment, while those who dislike flashy concerts will embrace it and fans of pomp and circumstance will shun it. Even though some viewers may find the approach boring, Groban's musical talent becomes the main attraction. Much like Groban's music, this concert is filled with an accessible warmth and passionate power that will reach out to everyone it touches. It's impossible to leave this concert without feeling relaxed, calm, and confident.
The only issue with this DVD is the lack of any special features. While this could be the case for the purposes of simplicity, much like the style of the concert itself, it makes the DVD feel a little lacking. There are also a few points where the editing gets a little awkward, presumably because PBS was editing out some of the non-music-related discussion that probably took place during the actual concert. While some of this was included, it would have been nice to see more. These moments give viewers the opportunity to see Groban's personality and relate to him on a more personal level — which seems to be the purpose of the Soundstage approach to begin with.
You can check out this new DVD set on Josh Groban's website.