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In The Round: A Perfect Circle With Josh Groban And Judith Hill

By Marielle Shaw in Arts & Entertainment on Oct 22, 2013 9:30PM

Sunday night’s show at the United Center featuring Josh Groban and Judith Hill was, in our minds, a good study on what the right voice can do. Hill was the first to take the stage and she was an absolute powerhouse. She brought some beautifully quiet moments at the piano and some unrestrained soul at other times. It’s easy to see she’s an artist with passion, and it was quite evident throughout that this was a voice that was meant for more than background vocals.

Groban’s voice has been likened to “butter on honey” by some of our friends, and while we can’t say we’re quite sure EXACTLY how that works, we can say that his voice is one that doesn’t come along very often. Hearing him sing live is something that will at times leave you awestruck. He led with “Brave” from his most recent album, but one of our favorite moments was the more subdued “February Song.” One of the best things about Groban is his sense of dynamic contrast, at once knowing when to bring down the house with his sonorous baritone and when to fade to a whisper, creating an emotional contrast which gave us goosebumps at times.

He’s also got quite the relational tone when addressing his audience. He brings you in with humor and isn’t afraid to get a little personal or off-topic, and to some extent it’s the moments of levity that make the absolute power and emotion that come from the music so amazing. One of the other highlights of the evening was his pairing with the lovely Judith Hill on “Remember When It Rained” and the absolute craftsmanship of every musician on stage. Chicago’s own Apollo Chorus performed with Hill and Groban during a heavenly rendition of Stevie Wonder’s “I Believe (When I Fall In Love It Will Be Forever).”

Overall, we can’t say enough good things about the Groban/Hill In The Round show. Perhaps you’ve overlooked Groban in the past or thought him to be more for a demographic different than your own. We may have had some of those same thoughts ourselves. But reconsider, and attend next time he’s in town. His voice is one that begs to be heard live. Meanwhile, keep your eye out for Judith Hill—we have a feeling she could be one to watch, and she’s absolutely one to hear.