This song explains why I’m leaving home to become a stewardess

Monday, 6 September 2004 — 3:50pm | Music

As anybody who has experienced the marvel and joy of Almost Famous would know, the song in question is Simon & Garfunkel’s “America”. This is also the song that Josh Groban played and sang as an encore at his concert at Rexall Place last night. He is a remarkable vocalist, and his reputation – not to mention his legion of fans – is well deserved.

Curiously enough, my first introduction to Josh Groban was not through my mother, who has been to six of his concerts (four of them in the past week), something I have no right to make fun of in any case given what I do for every new Star Wars film. Back in 2001, apparently long before he became all the rage, he sang a duet with Lara Fabian (“For Always”) on the theme of John Williams’ score to one of the most underrated movies in recent years, A.I. Artificial Intelligence. Williams’ compositions for that movie are, I find, the best work he has done in perhaps the past decade, with odd exceptions like “Across The Stars” from Attack of the Clones. The jovial return to his jazzier roots in Catch Me If You Can and The Terminal are in a category of their own, and he was certainly in top form with Harry Potter and the Prisoner of Azkaban, but A.I.‘s haunting piano melodies remind one of the similarly acronymic E.T. in its more sombre moments.

The Fabian/Groban duet at the end of the movie was itself only heard by few, most of them movie soundtrack buffs such as myself, and surprisingly many Groban fans have not wound the clock back and discovered it. I prefer it to “Remember” from Troy, but primarily for compositional reasons.

Yesterday’s event was not even the first time I’d seen Groban live – he had previously been featured in one of Sarah Brightman‘s tours, which I caught when it passed through Calgary. (That was, however, the first time I had seen the former Mrs. Lloyd Webber perform, being too young to have seen her in her signature role as Christine in The Phantom of the Opera.)

Since then, his rise as a solo artist has been astronomical enough that many a major publication has covered it more extensively than I will on this humble web page. For our purposes here, let us be satisfied with describing last night’s concert as a display of incredible vocal talent. You really do need to see Josh Groban live to get a sense of how powerful his voice is, as his recordings do not impress on quite the same level.

There was also that bit at the end where he put on the Oilers jersey, but being a Calgarian – albeit one who respects the Gretzky dynasty – I remained strictly indifferent.

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