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Josh Groban delivers ‘Straight to You’ magic

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JOSH GROBAN STRAIGHT TO YOU TOUR CONCERT; EnergySolutions Arena; Aug. 13; running time 2 hours.

SALT LAKE CITY — The arena was hot and the packed house restless after watching a rather bizarre piano performance by ELEW and then waiting around another half hour.

But it took Josh Groban less than 60 seconds to charm his way into the hearts of the crowd gathered to see the man with the magic voice.

In casual clothes and tennis shoes, Groban appeared as if by sleight-of-hand on the round stage at the end of the floor seats, sending his powerful sound into the rafters of the arena and bringing shrieks of delight from his fans.

He sang old favorites, including "the best love song ever written about cheating," "Broken Vow," as well as "For You" and "You Raise Me Up" as his final encore.

He included a number of beautiful songs from his new album "Illuminations" that absolutely soared.

Groban is completely at home on the stage and in Salt Lake City, a place he says is filled with an amazing energy for him. "This is the first arena I every played in my concert career," he said. "This is a city filled with special memories. I love you guys!"

He sings effortlessly and with a warmth and force that belies his slight, youngish look.

He's also a brave performer, opting to jump into the crowd and run down the aisles with his fairly anxious security guys flanking his moves.

"You are a grabby bunch!" Groban scolded his fans after one such run.

He brought four lucky fans on stage for milk, water and a close-up look at his show.

He answered a few questions texted to him prior to the show and generally made himself as accessible as possible when it's thousands against one.

And his music was beautiful, lush and full of emotion.

"You Are Loved" scored him big points, as did the opening song from his second CD, "Oceano."

Groban made a number of clever comments throughout the show, including telling everyone he knew they paid a lot for their tickets so he knew he needed to sing his best.

"Voce Existe Em Mim" (You Exist in Me), sung in Portuguese, is an exquisite Brazilian-flavored love song that makes full use of Groban's strength and range.

"Hidden Away" touches the inner romantic beast, and "The Bells of New York City" introduces a song that could become as tied to the Big Apple as Tony Bennett's "I Left My Heart in San Francisco" is to the California city.

Groban is incredible, full of energy, fun and talent, and his backdrops and band only make everything better.

The unusual brick-and-mortar backdrop makes a huge screen for gears and scaffolding, scattering bits of light, ocean waves and lovely scenic shots.

Perhaps thrust into the spotlight a little early, Groban hasn't let it wear him out or make him over cocky.

He earns his fans' adoration, as he proved Saturday night.

Sharon Haddock is a professional writer with 30 years experience, 17 at the Deseret News. Her personal blog is at sharonhaddock.blogspot.com.

Email: haddoc@desnews.com