When he announced he’d be doing a residency at New York’s Radio City Music Hall, Josh Groban said he wanted each show to be different. Well, it’s safe to say fans who attended the kickoff show on Friday got to see a performance that definitely won’t be repeated.
The Valentine’s Day show opened with a video of Josh nervously getting ready for the show, with some help from his pals Kelly Ripa and Ryan Seacrest. That gave way to Josh in person — sitting at a piano that rose up out of the stage — singing Alicia Keys‘ “Empire State of Mind” against a gorgeous backdrop of New York City visuals.
The show continued to mix comic filmed visuals with performances — occasionally at the same time, as when Josh serenaded his girlfriend with “Unforgettable,” backed by a montage of photos and videos which were deliberately chosen to be as embarrassing as possible.
Another video piece had Josh forcing his way onto the carriage rides of tourists in Central Park, asking them personal questions and even singing for them. Most of the couples were then revealed to be sitting in the front row of the show on Friday night — he’d given them all tickets.
Josh did more than just provide a ticket for a talented cellist who plays in the New York City subway system: He allowed the guy his very own spotlight number. The musician, known only as Eyeglasses, is actually a second-year medical student. He used a loop pedal and electric cello to perform an incredible rendition of Lewis Capaldi‘s “Someone You Loved,” earning a standing ovation.
Josh’s most unexpected guest — but most appropriate, given that it was Valentine’s Day — was beloved 91-year-old sex therapist Dr. Ruth Westheimer. Josh attempted to interview her, but Dr. Ruth hilariously controlled the conversation, which ended up with them duetting on “You Are My Sunshine.”
And of course, between all the comedy bits, which included audience participation and a guest spot from comedian and cabaret star Bridget Everett, Josh sang. There were songs from his albums — including “Brave,” “February Song,” “Symphony,” “You’re Still You” and, of course, “You Raise Me Up” — as well as some number he doesn’t usually sing, including The Pretenders’ “I’ll Stand By You,” Roberta Flack‘s “The First Time Ever I Saw Your Face” and Charles Aznavour‘s “She.”
By the end of the night, Josh had his band, plus a chamber orchestra, plus guest musicians Steve Jordan, Pino Palladino and Isaiah Sharkey from John Mayer‘s band and an entire choir onstage with him.
Josh’s final number was a rocking cover of Elton John’s “Empty Sky” — now available for streaming — which he sang as heart-shaped confetti rained down on the audience.
Additional performances of Josh Groban?s Great Big Radio City Show are set for April 18, June 20 and September 26.
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