Double Grammy Award winner plays a rare and intimate London concert at Union Chapel on November 24th
The internationally renowned vocalist and songwriter Josh Groban will release his long-awaited fifth studio album ‘Illuminations’ on November 22nd on 143/Reprise Records. To mark the album’s release, he will play an intimate concert (Groban on vocals / piano, accompanied by a guitarist) at London’s Union Chapel on November 24th.
“Going on tour involves so many steps to get ready for what people eventually see as the big production,” he explains. “The first step is simple. I sit down in my living room at the piano and play. I try to explore the songs in a different light and also just practice as much as possible to get the songs in my hands and voice. I also think about playing songs I haven’t played on tour in years. And then I might bring in my guitarist to work more songs out. All of this happens before we move it into a more formal rehearsal space with the full band and orchestra. However, this time around, I want to try something different. I want to bring my Living Room to you. I want the “first step” for this tour to be in front of you.”
On ‘Illuminations’, Groban worked with veteran producer Rick Rubin, known for his critically acclaimed work with Metallica, Red Hot Chili Peppers, Johnny Cash and Dixie Chicks among many others. Groban co-wrote the majority of the songs, including ‘Hidden Away’, which he wrote with Dan Wilson — former leader of the band Semisonic and co-writer of several cuts on the Dixie Chicks’ ‘Not Ready to Make Nice.’ ‘Hidden Away’ was recorded live with Groban singing and playing piano, Matt Sweeney and Smokey Hormel on acoustic guitars, and veteran R&B icon Spooner Oldham on organ, with a striking orchestral arrangement by David Campbell added later. The opening piano chords and the unfolding melody evoke a timeless Americana, a thread from Stephen Foster through Aaron Copland through Paul Simon and Randy Newman, as Groban makes a heartfelt plea not to hide true love or one’s true self.
‘Illuminations’ finds both Groban and Rubin stepping out of each one’s respective zone and creating an entirely new zone. The bracing result fulfills Rubin’s vision of a “fine art” Groban record, marrying the warmth of the sweeping American roots of Groban’s writing and the grandeur of classical settings by matching the live, one-take performances by Groban and the intimate, core acoustic band with colourful orchestral arrangements by David Campbell and James Newton Howard.
‘Illuminations’ was three years in the making, but the writing and recording came in bursts of creativity as Groban busied himself with other projects, including starring in a 21st-anniversary performance of the cult musical ‘Chess’ at London’s Royal Albert Hall, performing a comic medley of well-known TV theme songs at the 60th Annual Primetime Emmy Awards, duetting with Heather Headley at We Are One: The Obama Inaugural Celebration at the Lincoln Memorial, guest starring twice on Fox’s hit show ‘Glee’, and filming a role in ‘Crazy Stupid Love’, a motion picture comedy starring Steve Carell and Julianne Moore, due in spring 2011.
The 29-year-old Los Angeles native first broke through in 2001 with his self-titled 5x-platinum debut, followed by 2003’s 5x-platinum ‘Closer’ and 2006’s double-platinum ‘Awake.’ In 2007, Groban became the best-selling recording artist of the year thanks to sales of ‘Awake’ and his blockbuster 5x-platinum Christmas album, ‘Noël’, which spent five consecutive weeks at No. 1 on the Billboard album chart. Groban and his recordings have been nominated for more than a dozen awards including an American Music Award, a World Music Award, a Juno Award, two Grammy Awards and an Academy Award for ‘Believe’ from the 2005 film ‘Polar Express’. He has sold more than 25 million albums worldwide.