Tonight's show began with special guest, Judith Hill, whose appearance on the 4th season of 'The Voice' spotlighted her previous experience as the then-upcoming touring duet partner with the late King of Pop, Michael Jackson. With the untimely death of Jackson, the tour was cancelled. At Jackson's Memorial Service at LA's Staples Center in 2009, Hill sang the lead in 'Heal the World' making many in the music industry take note of the rising star. On this evening, Hill opened with the Michael Buble-popularized cover-tune 'Feelin' Good', and spent the next 30 minutes dazzling the crowd in attendance with her polished, sultry, powerful vocal display.
A short while later, Ms. Hill would exit the center stage, the lights would fade completely out, and from out of nowhere, one by one, colorful spotlights would target the Amway audience to illuminate an individual band member of Groban's ensemble from amongst the crowd. With the rest of the house lights dim, Josh Groban would soon take center stage and his nearly 2-hour set would begin.
As part of his 'In the Round' tour (the namesake serves as a reference to the 360-degree stage on which Groban performs, surrounded by his fans), Josh performed a beautiful set list of 17 songs -- several of which were released back in February on his 6th studio album entitled 'All That Echoes'. Other songs tonight were the hits that made him famous: 'To Where You Are' and 'You Raise Me Up.' What Josh didn't do vocally, he was able to showcase during a drum or piano solo. One piano solo in particular was during 'Remember When It Rained' when Josh brought Judith HIll back onto the stage with him for a harmonious duet, the arrangement for which I had not heard previous to this night. Hill would later join Josh for their 2nd and final duet of the night, 'The Prayer' which originally paired a young 'pimply faced 17 year old' with Celine Dion, by request of music producer David Foster.
On this night, Groban also sang 'She Moved Through the Fair', a song which Josh described as the song he would want for his own wedding someday. He had advised all the couples to get just that much closer to their loved ones during this one.
In addition to Judith Hill, Josh was also accompanied onstage this night by small children -- 2 young girls specifically, whose seats were apparently very close to the steps leading up to the stage. Being of the girl's birthdays, Josh playfully greeted each and even expressed his wishes for a 'happy birthday'. Josh's quirky commentary in between songs also allowed for several questions from the audience to be fielded. One of Josh's last songs for the night was 'I Believe' in which he was accompanied by the Via Musica choir of Orlando.
Maybe it was purely coincidental, but Josh's final song of the evening was 'Smile', a previously instrument-only theme to the Charlie Chaplin movie 'Modern Times'. In more 'modern times' (circa 1995) Michael Jackson would later add his vocals to what would later be identified as 'Michael Jackson's favorite song'. It would have been interesting to have had Judith Hill accompany Josh to this song given her background with Jackson, but these writers have no complaints!