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FOJG Guest Blog - New York Straight To You Tour Finale

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  • FOJG Guest Blog - New York Straight To You Tour Finale

    Cathy, Jenn & Corianne sent in a special guest blog documenting the fun they had on the closing night of the Straight To You Tour in New York City back in November. Read their entry and check out some of their photos below. Enjoy!

    Straight to You - The Road to MSG
    From Cathy:
    What a ride it has been. Monday, November 14th marked the final North American stop in Josh's "Straight to You" tour, and you could really taste the varied menu of emotions present in New York City's Madison Square Garden before the show. To be sure, we were all in "Grobanticipation" mode, but there seemed to be more than just anticipation floating in the air.

    From Corianne:
    As this was the final US show of the tour, Josh and band were ready to bring it. The entire audience in Madison Square Garden was ready to bring it too. The electricity, love, and intensity in the arena that night were beyond magical. We let Josh know from very early in the show just how much he was loved and how much we loved the entire tour.

    From Jenn:
    Many of us started the evening with a really fun pre-show dinner organized by Carla, Linda and Lori at the Playwright Irish Pub, where all of the TVs were tuned to the Soundstage DVD to help us get revved up and ready. The final night of a tour is always a special one - a celebration - but this final night of Josh’s STY tour meant we were about to collectively experience a moment…a special moment that meant as much to us - for the experiences we were so fortunate to have over the last few months, as it must have meant to him and the band - for all they had accomplished.

    From Cathy:
    So what else hung in the air of Madison Square Garden just before that last show? I think it was a truly collective understanding of just how lucky we are to experience his extraordinary talent live over and over again. And even though we were all understandably a little sad that the party would soon be over (for now), it made us appreciate even more how beautiful these experiences are.

    And the Garden was definitely infused with a party atmosphere that night. Perhaps because we knew it was the last show for a while, and perhaps because a bunch of us were still coming off the high of the previous evening's GFC Thanks a Million Celebration Gala. What I could not help noticing, however, were the number of people who shared hugs and squeals of delight as they greeted old and new friends throughout the stands. People were running up and down the aisles, greeting people they expected to find, and also joyously locating others they had not known would be there. There was a shared sense of "I'm so glad you're here too!" I have to admit - it wasn't something I had expected to see in The Big Apple.

    There was no doubt that Josh's road to create Illuminations had been a challenging one, but it had been worth the wait. And the road that brought him Straight to Us on this tour had been a long and tiring one, but it was also full of joy, fun and warmth. We knew that as we anticipated experiencing our own emotions during the show, we were also about to witness the magic of seeing Josh share his emotions with us, too.
    As the song says, "Play Me".

    Making the Night a Magical One - You Are Loved
    From Cathy:
    A bunch of us had held a discussion on the Boards to brainstorm ways that we could make the evening extra special for Josh to thank him and congratulate him on this night. Jenn enthusiastically backed Jackie/thestickybunlady’s proposed idea of singing the chorus lyrics of "You are Loved" straight back to Josh early in the show, and this idea was quickly shared to those not already in on the plan - Jenn designed and printed cards to tell people how they could "show the love" and we distributed them throughout the Garden. I have to say that I wondered if MSG's rather humungous size wouldn't completely absorb our efforts to be heard, but any doubts I had were quickly erased when that first chorus erupted. And the smile on Josh's face - and his body language for those of us that were not as close to the B stage - showed that not only had he heard us and understood the message loud and clear, he was thrilled to receive it. You could see him silently greet fans that he recognized and some of the videos posted later on the Boards confirmed that he had graciously said thank you. By the time he arrived at the main stage amid waving glow sticks, he knew how we felt, and he was ready to send the love right back to us.

    Josh the Joker
    From Cathy:
    We all knew by now where the jokes were in this show, so the fun of course was waiting to see what variation Josh would choose for each of those moments - would we smell like Chanel No 5 and pizza this time? We also got treated to spontaneous Josh moments too - just like the BWB shows - and these are always great. Whether Josh was giving us the gears because we cheered when he said it was the last show, cracking jokes with audience members (or their parents), or doing Stewie impressions, it's always amazing to watch him interact with his audience. He told New York it was the best city in the world, and then thanked it for being so nice to him, even when it was rude to him. And yes, he did "sing his ass off"!

    Interactive Moments - War at Home, Voce, Machine & Weeping
    From Cathy:
    Some of those interactive moments with the fans were similar in this show, yet different. Carol had again provided tons of patriotic flags to wave during "War at Home" and we waited to see how many of the flags we had given to other fans near us would be waved. The answer here was ... lots. I loved too how this was both a solemn and a celebratory moment.

    And "Machine" - always one of my fave songs in the show - was a blast. Corianne distributed her dance request cards to us at the M&G, and we had spread the word before the show to get up and dance during this song.

    From Corianne:
    It was a thrill to be able to fulfill one of Josh’s wishes for the tour because near the end, especially for Weeping and Machine, the entire audience was on their feet, dancing, singing, clapping, swaying, and it was clear just how much Josh and the band loved it. The smiles on their faces made it all worthwhile, besides the fact that it was so much fun! Although there had always been some Grobies representing and dancing away at previous concerts, this was a unified, strong, deserved reaction to Josh and his music. Glow sticks, hands and arms were waving as Josh ran and jumped around the stage. It was one of the most fun experiences and to know the love that was in the air made it all the better. While we were dancing, we knew what it meant.

    From Cathy:
    Josh's emotions were written all over his face and he triumphantly punctuated his performance with gestures and silent percussion. Tariqh, Andre, Mark and the rest of the band were also "in the zone" that night. Tariqh often grinned from ear to ear, and as usual, there was a lot of "jamming" going on between the different groups of musicians. They obviously enjoy each others' company a lot and love playing together, so that was another treat - a separate show within the show.

    From Jenn:
    Speaking of being “in the zone,” one of the highlights of the entire concert for me was Josh’s drum solo and segue into “Voce Existe Em Mim.” The pure energy of that song took on a life of its own that night. With the audience in a frenzy clapping and dancing, Josh caught that energy and delivered back a spellbinding performance, flawlessly singing its beautiful lyrics while seemingly entranced by the beat of the music. It was one of the most spectacular performances of his I’ve ever seen.

    The Q&A
    From Cathy:
    Of course, one of our favourite parts of each STY show is the Q&A. You never know what kind of questions will be selected, how Josh will react to them, or how the crowd will react to his reaction. It's a new box of chocolates every night, and we love how nutty Josh can be. This time we got some "Inside the Actor's Studio" stuff as Josh joked about his daily habits and his addiction to dried mango.

    And we got to see Josh talk to Cameron - it's always funny when he gets a question from someone he has already greeted in the audience during an earlier part of the show. We got some superb Stewie - "I say, let's just finish the tour in this accent!", and then there was the earmuffs moment - oops!
    But the highlight of the Q&A - and perhaps the night - was the third question - a request to duet with Josh on stage.

    Some of you may not know this, but there were a number of us who already knew the young man who wanted to sing with Josh that night. His name is also Josh - Josh Page - and he had come to the GFC Gala the night before as a guest of our fellow Grobie roommate Mari. We had found out that Josh Page had indeed won a David Foster singing competition, that his birthday really was February 27th, and that he not only loved to sing "our" Josh's music, he was also a dedicated Groban fan and a really nice guy. We had shared a table with him at the Gala, and we knew that he was going to ask if he could sing with Josh G - because we had helped Mari send the text message request with her phone.

    Quick aside here - I had watched ELEW's opening act from a seat in Row 20 (thanks so much Karen for getting me to MSG!), and then, during the intermission, my very dear friend Willow (rabidJGfan) had surprised me with a seat right next to my friends Carol N and Carol P - in the 12th row, so not only did I get to move 8 rows closer to the stage, but I also got to enjoy this concert with 2 very close and very wonderful Grobie friends. As I took my seat in the 12th row, I saw Mari & Josh P just behind me in Row 14. I said to Josh P - "I hear you might be singing for us tonight!". He replied with a nervous "I hope so", and I said "I hope so too!".

    So ... the Q&A moment arrives and Josh G asks Josh P if he can "bring it". We were thrilled for Josh P - and scared for him too - Madison Square Garden is a pretty awesome place to "sing along with Josh"! They dash to the B Stage, exchange a few words, joke about how the Grobanites may have to take care of Josh P if he passes out, and decide to sing part of "The Prayer". Josh G starts and hands the mike to Josh P, who blows the place away with his soaring vocal. The crowd goes wild and Josh G - well, it was a true Groban moment - he cheered Josh P on with a giant "YES!" and the most enthusiastic hand gestures I have ever seen him do. You could see how genuinely thrilled he was that Josh P had indeed "brought it" - and his very honest appreciation of Josh P's talent was a thrill for us to watch too. We watched Josh G re-live his first moment with Celine Dion all those years ago, and he warmly welcomed Josh P to the special membership of young performers who really can sing. They finished their duet with a superb harmony - it was spine-tingling!

    After that, well ... a few things happened. Josh G made up a funny story about how David Foster had told him he was looking for a "new him" and then he quipped with mock apology that the show would continue with just him singing solo. Later on, when he asked us to sing the gospel choir's part of "You Raise Me Up" with him, he remarked that he knew there was at least one great singer in the audience. Back in the seats, Josh P just about went into shock. I think his first words to Mari might have been something about how he had to call his folks to tell them what had happened. The next time I saw him, he was holding his head in his hands - and apparently he asked Mari several times if it had actually happened. Such a special moment to witness, and I know that we will hear Josh P's wonderful voice again. If you haven't taken the time to look for him on YouTube, I encourage you to do so.

    Broken Vow & the Encore
    From Corianne:
    In the introduction to “Broken Vow”, Josh did his normal joke that he was going to sing a song about cheating. Quite a few people cheered really loudly at this point (including Jenn and I – haha). Well, Josh made a joke about how easy we (the audience) were to please and that we would scream for anything, even if he sang us a song about bananas – “All riiiight!!!!”

    From Jenn:
    What I loved about this moment was Josh’s reaction to the crowd’s cheering and “woo’s” - his genuine laugh and huge smile on his face let us know how much fun he was truly having.

    From Cathy:
    As the concert drew to a close, it was wonderful to watch our Josh do everything he could to take it all in. Several times as he performed or took a bow, he put his hand to his heart and the thank you was a very earnest one. As usual, "Play Me" rang through the building and filled us with that special "What would Neil Diamond do?" warmth. The ending encore of "Smile" was beautiful and so heartfelt. I thought at one point during his final bow that he might be in tears. I know I was. There is something so very special about being a part of that interactive musical hug. And even though we were in a storied arena with close to 20,000 fans in attendance, it felt like we were in one of the small, perfect and intimate theatres for a BWB show. It was a fantastic shared experience. Josh, once again, you brought it. And we got to send that love right back - straight to you.

    From Jenn:
    Josh’s tweet later that night read: “MSG, NYC, you gave me all you had and I gave the same back...a perfect way to end the US tour. Thanks for making tonight so special.” And we thank you Josh, for it all…and for just being you.

    MSG - Madison Square Grobanites
    From Corianne:
    When the concert ended, we were not ready to leave. Many, many Grobies stayed on the floor of the arena to reminisce, hug, cry a little, and say goodbye. There was a bittersweet tone to the night, as we knew that many of us would not be able to see each other again for a while, but we were also thankful for the memories that we had from the past seven months. Because of Josh, friendships were formed that will last a lifetime and we all know it. I hope that he knows how much those friendships mean to us. The band ended up coming out on the floor and graciously posed for pictures and chatted with many of those who were there. They acted like friends and it was clear how much the tour meant to them and how much fun they had had, too. Madison Square Garden may have only been one show on the tour but it was a culmination of a very special experience for all of us. It was a celebration of all of those moments and a celebration of the tour.

    From Jenn:
    As we reluctantly exited MSG, I had the incredible good fortune to bump into Josh’s parents as they were headed backstage and I commented to them about how wonderful the Gala had been. For me, saying goodbye to all the friends that were there that night was hard, but knowing we’d all get to relive our memories through FOJG, YouTube & our pictures was priceless.

    From Cathy:
    So ... in the space of just one year, I had the good fortune to attend 9 Josh Groban concerts (3 BWB & 6 STY). They were all amazing and wonderful, and I enjoyed every one. But what happened after the MSG concert was almost as special as the curly haired performer himself. I guess we were so aware that this was the last concert of the North American tour that we really didn't want it to end. The last song was sung, the final bows were taken, the crowd gave a Standing O and cheered, and Josh and the band left the stage. The lights came up, the crew & roadies started to dismantle the stage set ... and we started to reluctantly leave the building. I said "started". It was a long slow, joyous, nostalgic crawl of impromptu greetings, cheers, photo opportunities, hugs, laughter and post-show bliss, all wrapped into one happy fluid motion. I have given a name to this sequence of dozens of similar experiences: GHMs - Grobie Hug Moments - and I am serious - it must have taken us close to an hour to finally exit the stadium. More than once, the ushers and security staff quietly urged us to keep moving. They weren't rude or impatient - they seemed to understand that we weren't troublemakers. In fact, I think they realized that we were all enjoying this "family reunion" with each other as much as we had enjoyed the concert. In the middle of it all, I saw many Grobies step up to congratulate Josh Page - and many of them asked for photos and autographs - he graciously complied and quite enjoyed what had become more than just a few minutes of fame. You know, people around here aren't kidding when they say that one of the best parts of being a Grobanite is the virtual friendships that we get to celebrate in person during tour concerts.

    A few of us decided to try finding the performers' exit door once we finally left the building. Our careful scouting and patience were quietly rewarded when we had the chance to meet almost every member of the band and crew as they left MSG. They were all really tickled to have us thank them so sincerely for such a great tour and many of them stopped for autographs and photos. One of them (R. Phillips) gave me her AAA Special Access Pass as a souvenir - so special. There were just a handful of us there (hi Beth!), and it was a great experience. We were pretty sure that we wouldn't see Josh that night, and when Darren came out, he confirmed that Josh had already left with his family. There were no complaints from any of us though and Darren was so kind - he spoke to us like friends.

    From Corianne:
    After the concert and goodbyes, a large group of us took over a nearby bar called “The Flying Puck.” We had so much fun, had a Journey sing-a-long and scared away the other bar-goers into the late hours!

    A Few Closing Comments
    From Corianne:
    That night is something that will stay with me forever. Our friendships, the music, and the aura in the air made truly life lasting memories. The moments described above and all the little memories of just being in that arena that night made me feel so lucky.

    From Jenn:
    With this night, my Straight to You Tour adventures of front row center at Mohegan Sun, 19th Row at Uniondale, attendance at the Gala, and 5th Row Center at MSG (thank you Elaine!) had come to a close. I hope Josh realizes how much he touches each of our lives every time he tours and leaves us with such close friendships intact and lasting memories that linger long after the final song is sung. Josh’s ability to command the stage with his presence, his incredible voice, quick wit and shining personality always leave us wanting more, and eager for the next time we will see him again.

    From Cathy:
    The road to MSG was paved with some wonderful touchstones in Josh's career as a songwriter, singer and performer.
    I remember listening to the early FOJG releases from the new CD, and being touched by how poignant and personal they were. And when I heard Illuminations in its entirety, the day of the New Haven "Before We Begin" (BWB) concert, I cried. I found the album tremendously moving - both emotionally and musically.

    Upon meeting Josh at the NYC Barnes & Noble CD signing event, I told him that this album played like a symphony in 13 parts - because so many of the songs seemed to flow together naturally (similar to Pink Floyd's Dark Side of the Moon or The Beatles' Sgt Pepper), and because although every song had its own individual personality, most of them shared a bonded sense of musical arrangement. This was no random or haphazard collection of songs - it was a carefully crafted suite of musical and emotional release.

    And after I saw him perform live for the first time at the BWB concerts, I said to myself, "Wow, what a gift he shares with us". During the STY shows, I asked myself who was this Josh who now performed on much larger stages in bigger arenas? Was he different from the cheeky living room joker who entertained his "friends" during the BWB shows? Miraculously, he really had not changed a bit. Without skipping a beat, he carried the intimacy of the BWB series and used two stages and the GAPs ("Grobanite Access Points") to adapt his show to the larger venues. We knew that the show's set list had to be more scripted in order to keep pace with the visuals being projected on the "backstage brick" walls of the main set, but night after night, Josh was engaging, fresh and damn funny. He exuded confidence and you could tell how much fun he and the band were having. And the performances of Josh and his musicians were spectacular. That man just continues to impress me.

    I was also astonished to see and hear how Josh had grown and matured to become such an accomplished songwriter, musician, singer and performer. Although I did not attend any of the "Closer" or "Awake" tour shows, I believe there has been a significant transformation in Josh's on stage persona. When I compare the "Live at the Greek" and "Awake Live" performance DVDs with Josh's more recent public performances, and with the "Straight to You" tour in particular, I see someone familiar, but new. Gone is the kid who seemed occasionally overwhelmed at the task before him. Now I see a young man who not only sings difficult songs well, he actually enjoys singing them because they are difficult. Josh is now growing into his wonderful voice, and he has embraced it with enthusiasm and joy. That twinkle in his eye when he spontaneously grins is so infectious. I have to thank him again for sharing it with us.

jgSarah's picture
on February 29, 2012 - 5:21pm

Cathy, Jenn & Corianne sent in a special guest blog documenting the fun they had on the closing night of the Straight To You Tour in New York City back in November. Read their entry and check out some of their photos below. Enjoy!

Straight to You - The Road to MSG
From Cathy:
What a ride it has been. Monday, November 14th marked the final North American stop in Josh's "Straight to You" tour, and you could really taste the varied menu of emotions present in New York City's Madison Square Garden before the show. To be sure, we were all in "Grobanticipation" mode, but there seemed to be more than just anticipation floating in the air.

From Corianne:
As this was the final US show of the tour, Josh and band were ready to bring it. The entire audience in Madison Square Garden was ready to bring it too. The electricity, love, and intensity in the arena that night were beyond magical. We let Josh know from very early in the show just how much he was loved and how much we loved the entire tour.

From Jenn:
Many of us started the evening with a really fun pre-show dinner organized by Carla, Linda and Lori at the Playwright Irish Pub, where all of the TVs were tuned to the Soundstage DVD to help us get revved up and ready. The final night of a tour is always a special one - a celebration - but this final night of Josh’s STY tour meant we were about to collectively experience a moment…a special moment that meant as much to us - for the experiences we were so fortunate to have over the last few months, as it must have meant to him and the band - for all they had accomplished.

From Cathy:
So what else hung in the air of Madison Square Garden just before that last show? I think it was a truly collective understanding of just how lucky we are to experience his extraordinary talent live over and over again. And even though we were all understandably a little sad that the party would soon be over (for now), it made us appreciate even more how beautiful these experiences are.

And the Garden was definitely infused with a party atmosphere that night. Perhaps because we knew it was the last show for a while, and perhaps because a bunch of us were still coming off the high of the previous evening's GFC Thanks a Million Celebration Gala. What I could not help noticing, however, were the number of people who shared hugs and squeals of delight as they greeted old and new friends throughout the stands. People were running up and down the aisles, greeting people they expected to find, and also joyously locating others they had not known would be there. There was a shared sense of "I'm so glad you're here too!" I have to admit - it wasn't something I had expected to see in The Big Apple.

There was no doubt that Josh's road to create Illuminations had been a challenging one, but it had been worth the wait. And the road that brought him Straight to Us on this tour had been a long and tiring one, but it was also full of joy, fun and warmth. We knew that as we anticipated experiencing our own emotions during the show, we were also about to witness the magic of seeing Josh share his emotions with us, too.
As the song says, "Play Me".

Making the Night a Magical One - You Are Loved
From Cathy:
A bunch of us had held a discussion on the Boards to brainstorm ways that we could make the evening extra special for Josh to thank him and congratulate him on this night. Jenn enthusiastically backed Jackie/thestickybunlady’s proposed idea of singing the chorus lyrics of "You are Loved" straight back to Josh early in the show, and this idea was quickly shared to those not already in on the plan - Jenn designed and printed cards to tell people how they could "show the love" and we distributed them throughout the Garden. I have to say that I wondered if MSG's rather humungous size wouldn't completely absorb our efforts to be heard, but any doubts I had were quickly erased when that first chorus erupted. And the smile on Josh's face - and his body language for those of us that were not as close to the B stage - showed that not only had he heard us and understood the message loud and clear, he was thrilled to receive it. You could see him silently greet fans that he recognized and some of the videos posted later on the Boards confirmed that he had graciously said thank you. By the time he arrived at the main stage amid waving glow sticks, he knew how we felt, and he was ready to send the love right back to us.

Josh the Joker
From Cathy:
We all knew by now where the jokes were in this show, so the fun of course was waiting to see what variation Josh would choose for each of those moments - would we smell like Chanel No 5 and pizza this time? We also got treated to spontaneous Josh moments too - just like the BWB shows - and these are always great. Whether Josh was giving us the gears because we cheered when he said it was the last show, cracking jokes with audience members (or their parents), or doing Stewie impressions, it's always amazing to watch him interact with his audience. He told New York it was the best city in the world, and then thanked it for being so nice to him, even when it was rude to him. And yes, he did "sing his ass off"!

Interactive Moments - War at Home, Voce, Machine & Weeping
From Cathy:
Some of those interactive moments with the fans were similar in this show, yet different. Carol had again provided tons of patriotic flags to wave during "War at Home" and we waited to see how many of the flags we had given to other fans near us would be waved. The answer here was ... lots. I loved too how this was both a solemn and a celebratory moment.

And "Machine" - always one of my fave songs in the show - was a blast. Corianne distributed her dance request cards to us at the M&G, and we had spread the word before the show to get up and dance during this song.

From Corianne:
It was a thrill to be able to fulfill one of Josh’s wishes for the tour because near the end, especially for Weeping and Machine, the entire audience was on their feet, dancing, singing, clapping, swaying, and it was clear just how much Josh and the band loved it. The smiles on their faces made it all worthwhile, besides the fact that it was so much fun! Although there had always been some Grobies representing and dancing away at previous concerts, this was a unified, strong, deserved reaction to Josh and his music. Glow sticks, hands and arms were waving as Josh ran and jumped around the stage. It was one of the most fun experiences and to know the love that was in the air made it all the better. While we were dancing, we knew what it meant.

From Cathy:
Josh's emotions were written all over his face and he triumphantly punctuated his performance with gestures and silent percussion. Tariqh, Andre, Mark and the rest of the band were also "in the zone" that night. Tariqh often grinned from ear to ear, and as usual, there was a lot of "jamming" going on between the different groups of musicians. They obviously enjoy each others' company a lot and love playing together, so that was another treat - a separate show within the show.

From Jenn:
Speaking of being “in the zone,” one of the highlights of the entire concert for me was Josh’s drum solo and segue into “Voce Existe Em Mim.” The pure energy of that song took on a life of its own that night. With the audience in a frenzy clapping and dancing, Josh caught that energy and delivered back a spellbinding performance, flawlessly singing its beautiful lyrics while seemingly entranced by the beat of the music. It was one of the most spectacular performances of his I’ve ever seen.

The Q&A
From Cathy:
Of course, one of our favourite parts of each STY show is the Q&A. You never know what kind of questions will be selected, how Josh will react to them, or how the crowd will react to his reaction. It's a new box of chocolates every night, and we love how nutty Josh can be. This time we got some "Inside the Actor's Studio" stuff as Josh joked about his daily habits and his addiction to dried mango.

And we got to see Josh talk to Cameron - it's always funny when he gets a question from someone he has already greeted in the audience during an earlier part of the show. We got some superb Stewie - "I say, let's just finish the tour in this accent!", and then there was the earmuffs moment - oops!
But the highlight of the Q&A - and perhaps the night - was the third question - a request to duet with Josh on stage.

Some of you may not know this, but there were a number of us who already knew the young man who wanted to sing with Josh that night. His name is also Josh - Josh Page - and he had come to the GFC Gala the night before as a guest of our fellow Grobie roommate Mari. We had found out that Josh Page had indeed won a David Foster singing competition, that his birthday really was February 27th, and that he not only loved to sing "our" Josh's music, he was also a dedicated Groban fan and a really nice guy. We had shared a table with him at the Gala, and we knew that he was going to ask if he could sing with Josh G - because we had helped Mari send the text message request with her phone.

Quick aside here - I had watched ELEW's opening act from a seat in Row 20 (thanks so much Karen for getting me to MSG!), and then, during the intermission, my very dear friend Willow (rabidJGfan) had surprised me with a seat right next to my friends Carol N and Carol P - in the 12th row, so not only did I get to move 8 rows closer to the stage, but I also got to enjoy this concert with 2 very close and very wonderful Grobie friends. As I took my seat in the 12th row, I saw Mari & Josh P just behind me in Row 14. I said to Josh P - "I hear you might be singing for us tonight!". He replied with a nervous "I hope so", and I said "I hope so too!".

So ... the Q&A moment arrives and Josh G asks Josh P if he can "bring it". We were thrilled for Josh P - and scared for him too - Madison Square Garden is a pretty awesome place to "sing along with Josh"! They dash to the B Stage, exchange a few words, joke about how the Grobanites may have to take care of Josh P if he passes out, and decide to sing part of "The Prayer". Josh G starts and hands the mike to Josh P, who blows the place away with his soaring vocal. The crowd goes wild and Josh G - well, it was a true Groban moment - he cheered Josh P on with a giant "YES!" and the most enthusiastic hand gestures I have ever seen him do. You could see how genuinely thrilled he was that Josh P had indeed "brought it" - and his very honest appreciation of Josh P's talent was a thrill for us to watch too. We watched Josh G re-live his first moment with Celine Dion all those years ago, and he warmly welcomed Josh P to the special membership of young performers who really can sing. They finished their duet with a superb harmony - it was spine-tingling!

After that, well ... a few things happened. Josh G made up a funny story about how David Foster had told him he was looking for a "new him" and then he quipped with mock apology that the show would continue with just him singing solo. Later on, when he asked us to sing the gospel choir's part of "You Raise Me Up" with him, he remarked that he knew there was at least one great singer in the audience. Back in the seats, Josh P just about went into shock. I think his first words to Mari might have been something about how he had to call his folks to tell them what had happened. The next time I saw him, he was holding his head in his hands - and apparently he asked Mari several times if it had actually happened. Such a special moment to witness, and I know that we will hear Josh P's wonderful voice again. If you haven't taken the time to look for him on YouTube, I encourage you to do so.

Broken Vow & the Encore
From Corianne:
In the introduction to “Broken Vow”, Josh did his normal joke that he was going to sing a song about cheating. Quite a few people cheered really loudly at this point (including Jenn and I – haha). Well, Josh made a joke about how easy we (the audience) were to please and that we would scream for anything, even if he sang us a song about bananas – “All riiiight!!!!”

From Jenn:
What I loved about this moment was Josh’s reaction to the crowd’s cheering and “woo’s” - his genuine laugh and huge smile on his face let us know how much fun he was truly having.

From Cathy:
As the concert drew to a close, it was wonderful to watch our Josh do everything he could to take it all in. Several times as he performed or took a bow, he put his hand to his heart and the thank you was a very earnest one. As usual, "Play Me" rang through the building and filled us with that special "What would Neil Diamond do?" warmth. The ending encore of "Smile" was beautiful and so heartfelt. I thought at one point during his final bow that he might be in tears. I know I was. There is something so very special about being a part of that interactive musical hug. And even though we were in a storied arena with close to 20,000 fans in attendance, it felt like we were in one of the small, perfect and intimate theatres for a BWB show. It was a fantastic shared experience. Josh, once again, you brought it. And we got to send that love right back - straight to you.

From Jenn:
Josh’s tweet later that night read: “MSG, NYC, you gave me all you had and I gave the same back...a perfect way to end the US tour. Thanks for making tonight so special.” And we thank you Josh, for it all…and for just being you.

MSG - Madison Square Grobanites
From Corianne:
When the concert ended, we were not ready to leave. Many, many Grobies stayed on the floor of the arena to reminisce, hug, cry a little, and say goodbye. There was a bittersweet tone to the night, as we knew that many of us would not be able to see each other again for a while, but we were also thankful for the memories that we had from the past seven months. Because of Josh, friendships were formed that will last a lifetime and we all know it. I hope that he knows how much those friendships mean to us. The band ended up coming out on the floor and graciously posed for pictures and chatted with many of those who were there. They acted like friends and it was clear how much the tour meant to them and how much fun they had had, too. Madison Square Garden may have only been one show on the tour but it was a culmination of a very special experience for all of us. It was a celebration of all of those moments and a celebration of the tour.

From Jenn:
As we reluctantly exited MSG, I had the incredible good fortune to bump into Josh’s parents as they were headed backstage and I commented to them about how wonderful the Gala had been. For me, saying goodbye to all the friends that were there that night was hard, but knowing we’d all get to relive our memories through FOJG, YouTube & our pictures was priceless.

From Cathy:
So ... in the space of just one year, I had the good fortune to attend 9 Josh Groban concerts (3 BWB & 6 STY). They were all amazing and wonderful, and I enjoyed every one. But what happened after the MSG concert was almost as special as the curly haired performer himself. I guess we were so aware that this was the last concert of the North American tour that we really didn't want it to end. The last song was sung, the final bows were taken, the crowd gave a Standing O and cheered, and Josh and the band left the stage. The lights came up, the crew & roadies started to dismantle the stage set ... and we started to reluctantly leave the building. I said "started". It was a long slow, joyous, nostalgic crawl of impromptu greetings, cheers, photo opportunities, hugs, laughter and post-show bliss, all wrapped into one happy fluid motion. I have given a name to this sequence of dozens of similar experiences: GHMs - Grobie Hug Moments - and I am serious - it must have taken us close to an hour to finally exit the stadium. More than once, the ushers and security staff quietly urged us to keep moving. They weren't rude or impatient - they seemed to understand that we weren't troublemakers. In fact, I think they realized that we were all enjoying this "family reunion" with each other as much as we had enjoyed the concert. In the middle of it all, I saw many Grobies step up to congratulate Josh Page - and many of them asked for photos and autographs - he graciously complied and quite enjoyed what had become more than just a few minutes of fame. You know, people around here aren't kidding when they say that one of the best parts of being a Grobanite is the virtual friendships that we get to celebrate in person during tour concerts.

A few of us decided to try finding the performers' exit door once we finally left the building. Our careful scouting and patience were quietly rewarded when we had the chance to meet almost every member of the band and crew as they left MSG. They were all really tickled to have us thank them so sincerely for such a great tour and many of them stopped for autographs and photos. One of them (R. Phillips) gave me her AAA Special Access Pass as a souvenir - so special. There were just a handful of us there (hi Beth!), and it was a great experience. We were pretty sure that we wouldn't see Josh that night, and when Darren came out, he confirmed that Josh had already left with his family. There were no complaints from any of us though and Darren was so kind - he spoke to us like friends.

From Corianne:
After the concert and goodbyes, a large group of us took over a nearby bar called “The Flying Puck.” We had so much fun, had a Journey sing-a-long and scared away the other bar-goers into the late hours!

A Few Closing Comments
From Corianne:
That night is something that will stay with me forever. Our friendships, the music, and the aura in the air made truly life lasting memories. The moments described above and all the little memories of just being in that arena that night made me feel so lucky.

From Jenn:
With this night, my Straight to You Tour adventures of front row center at Mohegan Sun, 19th Row at Uniondale, attendance at the Gala, and 5th Row Center at MSG (thank you Elaine!) had come to a close. I hope Josh realizes how much he touches each of our lives every time he tours and leaves us with such close friendships intact and lasting memories that linger long after the final song is sung. Josh’s ability to command the stage with his presence, his incredible voice, quick wit and shining personality always leave us wanting more, and eager for the next time we will see him again.

From Cathy:
The road to MSG was paved with some wonderful touchstones in Josh's career as a songwriter, singer and performer.
I remember listening to the early FOJG releases from the new CD, and being touched by how poignant and personal they were. And when I heard Illuminations in its entirety, the day of the New Haven "Before We Begin" (BWB) concert, I cried. I found the album tremendously moving - both emotionally and musically.

Upon meeting Josh at the NYC Barnes & Noble CD signing event, I told him that this album played like a symphony in 13 parts - because so many of the songs seemed to flow together naturally (similar to Pink Floyd's Dark Side of the Moon or The Beatles' Sgt Pepper), and because although every song had its own individual personality, most of them shared a bonded sense of musical arrangement. This was no random or haphazard collection of songs - it was a carefully crafted suite of musical and emotional release.

And after I saw him perform live for the first time at the BWB concerts, I said to myself, "Wow, what a gift he shares with us". During the STY shows, I asked myself who was this Josh who now performed on much larger stages in bigger arenas? Was he different from the cheeky living room joker who entertained his "friends" during the BWB shows? Miraculously, he really had not changed a bit. Without skipping a beat, he carried the intimacy of the BWB series and used two stages and the GAPs ("Grobanite Access Points") to adapt his show to the larger venues. We knew that the show's set list had to be more scripted in order to keep pace with the visuals being projected on the "backstage brick" walls of the main set, but night after night, Josh was engaging, fresh and damn funny. He exuded confidence and you could tell how much fun he and the band were having. And the performances of Josh and his musicians were spectacular. That man just continues to impress me.

I was also astonished to see and hear how Josh had grown and matured to become such an accomplished songwriter, musician, singer and performer. Although I did not attend any of the "Closer" or "Awake" tour shows, I believe there has been a significant transformation in Josh's on stage persona. When I compare the "Live at the Greek" and "Awake Live" performance DVDs with Josh's more recent public performances, and with the "Straight to You" tour in particular, I see someone familiar, but new. Gone is the kid who seemed occasionally overwhelmed at the task before him. Now I see a young man who not only sings difficult songs well, he actually enjoys singing them because they are difficult. Josh is now growing into his wonderful voice, and he has embraced it with enthusiasm and joy. That twinkle in his eye when he spontaneously grins is so infectious. I have to thank him again for sharing it with us.

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