Josh Groban (Finally) Returns to Manila with Bridges Tour

Feb 26, 2019

Kumusta? (How do you do?)”

“The first thing I have to do is that and to apologize.” It has been 12 years since Filipinos heard Josh Groban’s crystalline voice lent to operatic ballads of theater and pop descents.

“I still fondly remember my first experience here in Manila,” said Groban to the audience-filled Mall of Asia Arena on February 22nd for his Bridges album tour.

He recounted that when his first album came out, his producers had told him that it was doing very well outside of America, in the Philippines, to be precise. It’s something that the Los Angeles native “deeply valued then, and now.”

As natural as his talent is Groban’s wit and genuineness. From interviews to the stage, he is easy to make fun of himself and impart with audiences his early experiences and emotions performing as a young choir boy who did a defining solo and as a 17-year-old who broke out onto the world music scene.

Manila Exclusives

Groban delighted the audience with singles from his self-titled album in 2001 to his newly-penned songs.

Apart from his Bridges tour setlist however, Groban had special treats for his Filipino fanbase, both song and guest performer wise.

Groban sang “She’s Out of My Life,” which he also sung in his first Manila concert in 2007. He told that his record of the song didn’t take off as much in the US as it did in the Philippines when he released it as a bonus track in his Closer album. “That’s why I spent the night learning to play it on the piano,” he added.

Another Manila concert exclusive he did was “We Will Meet Once Again,” an English song rendered in Italian which he sung with Andrea Bocelli in his latest album.

Groban then introduced Christian Bautista, who opened the night for him with a medley of OPM (Original Pilipino Music) classics and the latter’s international hit, “The Way You Look at Me.”

Christian Bautista told Groban during their exchange on stage how the star’s music defined the beginning of the former’s career. Groban said that he has been following Bautista on Twitter and had heard his songs. Expectedly, the two balladeers nailed the song together.

Broadway, Birthday Treats

A lot has happened with Josh Groban since he was last in the Philippines.

Releasing Stages in 2015, where he sang his favorite showtunes (and Pure Imagination from the movie Willy Wonka and the Chocolate Factory), had “opened doors for him.”

He made his broadway debut in Natasha, Pierre & the Great Comet of 1812 in 2016 which earned him a Tony nomination. Last year, he hosted the Tony awards with Sara Bareilles.

Speaking of broadway and the Tony’s, it was thus no surprise that the other special guest of Josh Groban was no less than the national treasure that is Lea Salonga.

Despite entering the stage in a wheelchair due to an injury, the Tony- and Olivier-awarded Salonga was still “a vision in blue.”

“Before we sing a couple of duets, there is a special song that’s very, very important for me to sing tonight,” said Groban. And with a cue to the pianist, he sang “Happy birthday to you” to Salonga who celebrated her 48th birthday that same night.

The two world-class singers first performed “All I Ask of You” from the Phantom of the Opera, which is currently playing at the Cultural Center of the Philippines as of this writing.

Another only-in-Manila concert treat was “The Prayer,” a song memorable to both Filipinos and Groban himself because it helped propel his career when he sang it with Celine Dion in 2009.

Bridges: An album for all

Before sending off the crowd home and thanking all the members of the orchestra, band and backup singers, Groban sang “Bridge Over Troubled Water” which he said was definitely not coincidental to be in his album.

With tracks in Spanish, Italian and French, the aptly titled Bridges aims to reflect harmony despite differences, a message that Groban wishes to extend to all through the lens of music.

“I’ve never in my lifetime seen the world so divided, so much fear, so much anger, so much otherism.

“To be able to have music that brings us together, and we can turn off the news and come in to a place and be together because of music — no matter what your beliefs, no matter what your politics, no matter what else is telling you that we need to be afraid of each other outside of these walls, music can do that for us.”

Josh Groban’s Bridges the Album Tour in 2019 at the Mall of Asia Arena was made possible with Ovation Productions who, in celebration of their 40th year, is bringing the biggest names in music to the Philippines.

“I still fondly recall my first experience here in Manila… And it was just with around 2,000 people, and now you’ve given me an arena, so thank you very much.”

Shared Filipino sentiment: Josh, you are forgiven and you are loved. So please, return sooner.

Photos courtesy of Ovation Productions.

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