REVIEW: Josh Groban showcases stunning voice at The Forum

Los Angeles native Josh Groban captivates the crowd at The Forum Saturday night after Idina Menzel opened the show. (Photo courtesy of Rich Fury)

On Saturday night, Josh Groban played at The Forum as part of his “Bridges” tour.

Groban, a Los Angeles native, entranced the audience with his impeccable vocals and took them through a journey of love and hope.

Special guest Idina Menzel dazzled in a silver-sequined jumpsuit that caught the light with each step. She performed a set that mixed original discography with songs from projects she’s performed.

Her singalong moments came during selections from “Frozen,” when she turned the microphone toward the audience for backing vocals.

Despite the warm reception, performances of “Do You Want to Build a Snowman” and “Let it Go” were awkward at best and pandering at worst.

She crouched on the floor during her cover of “I’ll Stop the World.” Repeating the chorus, she connected the individual listeners and personalized the song. Menzel also showed off her range with an arrangement that allowed her voice to fill out the venue.

From starry-eyed “The Wizard and I”  to soaring “Defying Gravity,” Menzel commanded the stage with the presence and poise of the veteran performer that she is.

For his set, Groban strode on stage dressed casually in an unzipped blue bomber jacket.

Between songs, he delivered unscripted anecdotes to the audience, often changing direction and tone depending on what came to mind — often peppered with bad puns and dad jokes. At one point, he referred to audience members as “nuggets of specialness.” With each display of cheesy gratitude, Groban’s charm shone through.

When he started to sing, a switch flipped. The geeky and sometimes awkward man transformed into a musical virtuoso with arguably one of the best voices in contemporary music.

Groban didn’t need gimmicks, an elaborate stage design or dancers to captivate the audience. He only needed his never-faltering voice.

Groban offered sweeping vocals right from his opening song, “Bigger Than Us.” His face twisted with desperation, as if on the edge of the world onstage at The Forum. With an outstretched arm, he implored the audience to save him from whatever sorrow inspired the song.

Groban dedicated a portion of his set to covers from various musicals, as the stage bathed in purple for “Pure Imagination” from “Willy Wonka and The Chocolate Factory.” The live band pulled back as Groban’s voice transported the audience away from their seats to a magical place.  

The band jammed to an instrumental number, giving Groban time to run over to the side stage, where he continued his series of covers on a piano.

“She’s Always a Woman” united Billy Joel’s timeless lyrics with Groban’s sincere delivery. The subtle instrumentation made the song one of the most romantic and raw performances of the evening.

For “Lullaby,” he brought out Menzel for a duet. The two powerful voices didn’t mesh as expected.

Another standout was “Bring Him Home” from “Les Misérables.” Groban reached up into his rare falsetto, and perfectly encapsulated the song’s themes of danger and paternal love.

During “You Raise Me Up,” Groban demonstrated his talent in a powerful crescendo leading up to the song’s climax. At the key change, a choir joined him on stage and, paired with Groban’s soaring vocals, created a near-religious experience.

To close the evening, Groban performed a cover of “Bridge Over Troubled Water.” The haunting song served as a final plea to his audience to choose love over anger. As Groban belted out the final notes with bravado, many of his suspended listeners took his message to heart.