While it’s certainly not a holiday concert, there’s something timely and heartwarming about the pairing of Josh Groban and Idina Menzel, who just wrapped up this leg of their North American tour. Groban is touring his latest album, Bridges, while Menzel is touring her newly released live album, Idina: Live.
The tour came through Western, New York when they performed at the Blue Cross Arena in Rochester on Nov. 13 to a packed house.
Idina Menzel opened up the show with somewhat of a hits package from her personal catalog as well as songs she’s performed on Broadway. What was noticeably unique about her set, was watching a bona-fide stage actress working her way into a slightly-less-scripted live performer. There were a handful of songs I was personally excited to see in this set, and I’m thrilled to report that she played them all. For those eagerly wondering, the top of my list was Wicked’s “Defying Gravity” as well as anything else she might have pulled from that play (“The Wizard and I” and “For Good” were also included). She also performed “Let it Go,” (from Disney’s 2013 film, “Frozen”) unquestionably her biggest song to date.
Later in the set, she brought us back to the beginning of her Broadway career, where she paid tribute to Rent with a performance of “Take Me or Leave Me.” Some of her personal hits included in the set were “I Stand” and “Brave.” Menzel’s performance of “Defying Gravity” was the set closer, clocking in at just about one hour. While I typically cover hard-rock shows, this was a solid performance and certainly a headline-worthy production. It will be exciting to see just how far “off-Broadway” Menzel takes her career as a pop star.
After a short interlude, Josh Groban took the stage in a shockingly casual manner. As it turns out, this simply adds to the intimacy of his performance. He opened his set up with “Bigger Than Us,” from his new album Bridges. He immediately went into “You Are Loved” from 2006’s Awake album before stopping to engage the crowd a bit. Aside from the incredible voice that Groban brings to the stage, one of the most noticeable characteristics of his show is how funny he is. This again speaks to his showmanship as he balances deep themes with levity and humor in-between. A small highlight of mine was Groban’s cover of Leslie Bricusse & Anthony Newley’s “Pure Imagination” (From the film Willy Wonka and the Chocolate Factory).
A little deeper into the set, Groban appeared in the back of the arena at a second stage, where he performed several songs, leading off with a cover of Billy Joel’s “Always A Woman.” Immediately following, Groban was joined by Idina Menzel for “Lullaby” and “Falling Slowly.” After he returned to the main stage for the next several songs, he closed out the main set with his breakthrough hit “You Raise Me Up.” There was a brief interlude before he performed his encore, consisting of “To Where You Are” and his cover of Simon and Garfunkel’s “Bridge Over Troubled Water.”
As the show let out, the aisles filled with content concert-goers. There’s little doubt that everyone in attendance had gotten more than they’d hoped for this evening. While this was the end of the current tour, Groban has dates announced into 2019. With fresh releases from both artists, it’s likely you’ll get a chance to catch them on tour soon!