Tag Archives: Concert review

My favourite rose

This year has been the first since 2007 when I didn’t commemorate february, which was the month when I heard Josh Groban sing for the first time. It happened six years ago, and the reason why this event turned into an anniversary is the profound impact this singer has had on me. I won’t repeat myself – if you know me, you know the details. But in a nutshell – his voice reassured me, gave me strength and inspired me in more ways than one, for a long time. There has been no other performer who has had such a big influence on me.

But with time, every influence weakens. It happens naturally, because we grow, and we move on. What used to have an impact becomes trivial, because we have absorbed its message, and have learned our lessons. Josh Groban was never an ordinary singer for me, and because of his extraordinary impact I always considered him a messenger and even a mentor in some ways. As the years went by, the power of the teachings I received through seeing him perform, or listening to his songs waned. I accepted this fact as a natural occurence in life, and I was grateful for two things. For his presence that left a lasting imprint on me for years, and for the fact that I was growing. I tried to stay cheerful when I thought the time of goodybe came. Josh is a wonderful person and I would always cherish that, but if the time came to let go of the side of him that used to play such a crucial role in my life, I would do it. I was growing, and I was learning my lessons all this time – through other experiences, theatre, music, literature, psychology, etc. Josh became a mere singer, however magnificent. And I stopped listening to his music, because I felt no need to hear his voice.

All that echoes came out earlier in February this year (when I think about it, I find the sweet coincidence of months very satisfying – it’s as if he decided to catch my attention on our “anniversary” once again – I know I’m reaching but this thought pleases me, so indulge me, will you?!), and when I first heard it, I knew it was a special album. It didn’t mesmerise me the way Illuminations did, which is a very tight, very deep, very personal record, a resonating realm of private moments which I felt privileged to hear. With each and every one of those songs I was peeping into very personal space. Josh wrote or co-wrote almost all the songs, mostly original, and the album was a valiant jump from the carefully produced, tame and expected music that his name used to mark to a place of confessions and shattering tenderness both in the personal and the musical sense. I cried so much over that album I lost count. All that echoes contains many covers and a few originals that, despite their different styles somehow work together – probably because of the personal power of Josh’s voice. He’s the unifying link. He chose songs that mean a lot to him, and that comes through. I was deeply touched by a very personal experience when I decided to listen to the album for the first time, and this could be one reason why the album did not disappoint. In fact, I cried through half of the record. The other half amazed me. But I would like to give my opinion about it regardless of what I was going through that day. Musically speaking, it’s Josh’s best CD so far. There is so much richness that needs to be discovered in it still. I only heard it about five times – the reason I stopped listening to it was that whenever I did, the power of the songs simply swept me off my feet and I was unable to do whatever else I was doing. Besides, I felt no real need to hear the songs more times: they moved into my heart on the very first occasion.

When the tour dates were announced, I was perplexed and angry by the fact that my closest location, Vienna, was also the costliest when it came to tickets. I impulsively decided to skip this tour altogether. I had no need to see Josh live. I thought I’d make an adult decision and not see him live, for the first time since the “Awake” tour. I felt no envy that most of my Grobanite friends were going to one or more tours, I was happy for them and I knew that my responsible goodbye from Josh was more important than toeing the line for the sake of peace and not standing out. My resolve lasted all two hours until I got home from work and my husband told me I should reconsider. Knowing what Josh meant to me, he told me to go to Vienna, no matter what. My Grobie friends were also not helping, because they displayed disbelief and derision at my original decision. And so, because I could afford it, I was influenced against my original resolve.

I would like to state for the record that I have never been happier to be proven wrong.

There was basically no preparation or anticipation before Vienna. I work a lot, I had no time or energy to mentally prepare myself. I knew that a bus would take me, that I had the ticket, and that it would happen, so why stress or fuss about it? Those time are over. I used to have pre-concert depression, post-concert depression, and everything in between. Not any more. I am better at living for the moment than I used to be. I accept and count my blessings and absorb the joy that comes from being fully present during an experience. I don’t want to spoil it all with expectations, and so I expected mostly nothing from the concert. I’ve had so many wonderful experiences already, that I thought Josh wouldn’t be able to surprise me any more. If I was expecting anything it was that quiet, peaceful farewell to happen.

Just like the new album, the new tour is also, musically speaking, the richest, most complex and many-layered that the J-Gro and his band have put together to date. The acoustics of the Stadthalle were also magnificent. All this resulted in a flow of rich, potent sound, music at its best. And the ultimate best part – Josh’s voice – was also on a higher level than before. (If that is even possible.) He’s learning to play on the instrument in his throat better each time, and I don’t mean with more precision or discipline – I mean that he truly is playing with his voice. It’s what makes the songs more alive every time you hear them. Songs like “Alla luce” alone would be worth going to his concerts. Each year it sounds better and better. (Now would be the time to re-record it!) The new songs literally blow the mind – and thanks to the acoustics, the body, too. The first song, “Brave” and the one that followed, “False alarms” set the mood and rhythm right from the start. “Hollow talk” was a favourite of mine ever since I heard it – and on stage, toward the half of the show, it was indescribable. The potent waves of drum and bass and the sudden explosion of music toward the end of the song tore me to atoms. I wept like an idiot, I couldn’t help myself. “Vincent”, beautiful, wonderful, immortal Vincent… tender and loving song, bringing back so many memories. It was the song that made me truly love Josh – and Van Gogh’s art, as well. They are closely connected and when I hear the song today, I see the paintings of Van Gogh before me as the lyrics describe them. It’s great that Josh still performs this particular song. “Falling slowly”, a very gentle cover of a uniquely beautiful song from a uniquely, memorably beautiful movie, and now, stage play. I’ve loved the movie for years and when I heard Josh would sing this song, I had goosebumps of joy – last night, those goosebumps returned and I felt so happy that he loves the movie as much as I do. “Voce existe em mim” rocked us to pieces, so much so that the audience stood up to dance to the rhythm. The strict Austrian audience. It was my first time dancing at a Josh-concert! This was repeated during “Machine”, which will remain one of my favourite songs by him – by the end of it, a crowd formed just below the stage. I felt euphoric! I watched the faces of the musicians. Their expressions were priceless, I’ll never forget the sense of pride and joy and gratitude that showed in their eyes, in their smiles, in their gestures. Josh was loving our closeness just as much. I felt free, I felt in shock, I felt grateful, I felt alive!

“I believe when I fall in love” was spectacular, but we knew it would be. With a wonderful little choir it took the breath from our lungs. Endlessly uplifting, rich and respectfully different from Stevie Wonder’s equally magnificent original. (The thing about Josh Groban covering a song is that he does it with so much respect. Musicians should learn from this guy.)

A wonderful surprise was hearing “Awake” again. It’s Josh’s most special, most meaningful song and this time, the musical arrangement was different. Toward the end they added a string of fast drumbeats that translates to the fearful drumming of a heart, which senses the imminence of loss. It adds urgency and desperation to an otherwise gentle, tender song about the power of now. It was a touch of genius.

“You raise me up” was sung by several thousand people. Whoever said this song needs to be taken off the setlist should check their hearts and souls. It sounds better and better and the message cannot be ignored.

The last encore was “Smile”. Ruslan, the crazy Ukrainian pianist and Josh, the crazy American-Jewish-Russian-Norwegian singer made us smile deep within our hearts with their duet. Charlie Chaplin would have been proud!

I thought Josh couldn’t affect me much any more. It is very typical that when he finished “Alla luce”, he instantly jumped into the Q & A part, which is always funny. I am not sure how he does this, but he always manages to bring me to tears by making me laugh first. I don’t mean the laughing so hard that one cries part. I mean that moment when laughter changes into weeping. So when everyone else was laughing their heads off, I was trying to make as small of an idiot of myself as possible. After the Austrian waltzing lady fell in her own feet on stage, it was just a riot till the end of the Q & A. (And beyond.) We ate from his hands. I first cried, then laughed, then was cold from all the goosebumps, then became a shaking blabbering mess of snivel during “Hollow talk”, then rose to heights I never experienced during a JG-show. And what’s more important, I saw the man, and I saw the musician, and I saw everyone else beside him – and I was his slave no more. I loved him with all my heart, but I loved him in the moment, aware that after he left the stage, I would let go of him. I loved him for as long as he was mine in that immaculate white shirt and the facial expressions that I know by heart and adore every single time. I took what he gave me and felt glad, and gave back what I could, every way I that could as part of his audience.

This sense of euphoria lasted even after the show ended. The Hungarian “delegation” was quite a big one and many people were taking our photos. Josh noticed our flags and dammit, by now he should know we’re on the map, seeing as 6 of the 10 meet and greet fans were Hungarians! I was disappointed I didn’t win a meet and greet, again. It’s been a long time since I’ve longed to meet him for real, in person, and the occasion just keeps eluding me. I was disappointed and frankly, envious and jealous of everyone who got their chance. Not as envious as I used to be years ago, but there was a trace of envy. I won’t deny it. I felt cheated and worthless as a fan. But I knew, in the end, that Josh has given me so much more already than 1 minute of meeting and greeting and a general smile photo. And I was really happy for everyone who won their chance to meet him. After the concert every sense of anything negative was gone, blown into the murky, grey, drizzly-cold weather. (It just shows that you can have your own celebration inside your heart even if there’s a storm outside!) I felt over the moon. I remember how two years ago Yanni had the same effect on me – but this was better, because this was Josh! My darling, amazing Josh. Josh, who brought friends into my life, who gave me faith, who erased my fears, who stirred my soul, who inspired me to create, and to open my eyes to a lot of new music. And I used to think that albeit being a one of a kind singer, his songs are not the pinnacle of music. I knew he had it in him to grow as a musician, and he proves that with each album, making all of his fans, including me, so proud! Well, he grew a lot with his new album and even though he cannot be called the pinnacle of music, I know that the combination of a unique voice, a truly likeable persona and the humble attitude he adopts as a musician make him rather outstanding.

About twenty minutes after the show (during which time we frolicked and laughed and made group photos) I decided to take a look outside the building, where the tour buses were. Two of my good friends, with whom I shared the love of another unique performer, and who also became JG-fans later, joined me. It was cold outside and we thought that if Josh came out at all, he would come much later. We were wrong – the moment we got to the tour bus there he was under an umbrella Darren (God bless him) was holding above his head, surrounded by appr. twenty people only. We couldn’t believe our luck. I edged closer, waited for Josh to get right where I was standing behind someone and I told him how much I loved the new arrangement of “Awake”. He looked up from signing something to someone and he thanked me, like he meant it. I remember thinking after the meet and greet winners were announced that even if I won the chance to meet Josh, what the hell could I possibly say to him, how on earth could I cram several years’ worth of life-changing experiences, friendships, inspiration that he gave me – into one sentence??? There would never be a way, and I also knew that all these things are important for me, and my friends involved in those experiences, but Josh doesn’t need to know. I don’t need to tell him. He knows he is loved – we buy his albums, go to his shows, we keep his career alive and we give him feedback in all shape and form and through all possible channels. Personal stuff – that’s mine, because I experienced it. He didn’t. I did. So I can’t and probably shouldn’t tell him. And here was my incredibly lucky chance, to see him up close, and to tell him something that would matter to him rather than to me. I did, and it did matter to him, because it concerned his music, and he was grateful. We saw him for about 30 seconds more, before he was ushered into the bus to be driven to Zürich.

There are five rosebushes on the edge of our garden, just under our living-room windows. They were planted when we moved to this house, almost nine years ago. I haven’t done much tending of them over the years, just the occasional spring trim, or some minor fertilizing, when I remember to, perhaps once every second year. Despite my almost negligence, these rose bushes have been growing beautifully, yielding roses every year, from spring till late autumn. I love my roses very much.

But I love the one bush that is the strongest, and largest, most; the one that yields dark-purple, blood-red roses, a hue impossible to describe, truly the mixture of red and purple. And they smell like no other rose I’ve ever smelled. This is my favourite rose-bush. Roses will come and go, but this particular rose-bush will always remain my favourite.

Parsley and two hours of bliss

It is with quite a bit of sadness that I write my final report this year (and probably, tour). Seeing Josh Groban three times in a month is something I seriously never thought would happen. Never, ever. Ever. My financial situation places me somewhere safe, I can afford many luxuries, but four years ago little did I suspect that the ease with which I got to see him for the first time, mere weeks after I first heard his voice would be the forecast of something even more incredible. Three concerts in four weeks’ time. To say that I’m fortunate simply doesn’t cover it. read more »

“Straight to you”, Vienna

There is one person on Earth I saw live several times, am ready to travel abroad for any time, and whom I intend to see live as long as either of us lives. That person is Josh Groban, the singer with an angel in his throat. read more »

The angel, the man

This is the translation of my concert report written in Hungarian on November 25, 2010. The reason for my delay was my PCD at first, then, emotional ups and downs, then buing very busy. I still am but many of my English Grobie friends kept asking me about my impressions… so, a few months late and almost a the brink of the “Straight to you” tour, here are some memories. I wrote it the day after the concert, but in present tense in a vain endeavour to grasp and preserve the moment…

I’m sitting on the plane to London. I’m pondering the beauty of the sky above the clouds, the immaculate whiteness of everything, the blinding strength of the light, and the kind of calm that spreads in me at the sight of the cloudy vastness. In my heart there is expectant peace and my mood is swell, I’m a bit excited to see how my first big trip on my own will turn out. Naturally, I know the answer in advance, but you never know, right? I’m listening to “Illuminations”, which sounds more beautiful and intimate each time, and the thought that I’ll be seeing Josh in a chapel tomorrow starts turning into certainty. The divine sight of the heavens is fittingly accompanied by angelic music but soon enough, the plane starts descending, it slashes through the white massless mass, we arrive into grey area, it’s dark, it’s all equivocal, almost cold. Change is always scary… Then, London’s evening lights start to appear, countless tiny and gradually growing specks of clarity, the bloodstream of cars gushes along the veins of roads and highways, it’s fascinating. It’s beautiful. Sometimes we have to look at something from a distance to notice its beauty… How amazing that after the perfect, heavenly calm even mundane chaos can be pleasing.

We all dwell a bit in this no man’s land trapped between two worlds. We remember something but very rarely and only dimly and even if we do remember, we chase away the thought because we don’t believe any more that it ever existed. And yet, it did exist. Amidst this mortal coil sometimes we all get “homesick”. We distinctly feel that what we were born into is not the only place that exists. And sometimes, once in a blue moon, an event or occurrence intensifies this feeling and the memories become sharper of an invisible, hardly believable, perhaps unimaginable world, or time, or place, or being. It’s hard to say what causes stronger homesickness: a hug, or a scent, or a splash of colour amidst the greyness.

I contemplate these things but I’m already off the plane, I’m sitting on the transfer couch, on the first seat. The driver is a black gentleman in a beret, he looks a little grumpy but he seems and sounds a lot happier from the music blasting from his speakers. Pops is playing some good shit, the soul music of the 80’s at first, then fresh stuff. My feet are involuntarily moving to the beat and so is my heart. I resolve that as soon as I get home I’ll add Marvin Gaye and Stevie Wonder to the artists I need to look into in detail. It’s dark outside, the gentleman is driving a tad crankily, to be honest I feel like I’m on a roller-coaster. I love it. We’re gliding and sweeping, the music’s good, and suddenly I notice a road sign: Hampton Court Palace. My lips stretch into a smile, memories rush in, London, 2007, Josh and a similar kind of cold weather, weirdly in June.

Well, yes. Josh. My bank account contains almost nought, normal people do not spend such amounts of money to travel abroad for music concerts. My conscience is often bad, that money could have been used for so many other things, I could have helped a lot of people with that money, I feel selfish. The black dude is performing a mini-concert of his own and he helps me forget every negative thought in my body, the music keeps getting louder but no one dares protest. I don’t protest, either, mostly because I’m several feet above ground. If we crash into something now and I fly across the windshield it’s probable that I’ll walk over the threshold to the other world with a smile on my face and dancing in my heart.

The workplace of an old friend of mine, a teahouse is my next stop. She has the key to the office I’ll be staying the night in. It’s very ironic that tonight’s her last day of work, she’s been living in London for four years and she decided t take a break, come home, gather her strength and her wits. She’s also coming to the concert tomorrow, she’s not a fan of Josh’s like me, but the Union Chapel is a very prestigious concert hall, many musicians have given intimate shows here and she’s curious what Josh can offer. It should be a good winding down for her, soothing evening music. I look around her tea shop, it’s very pretty, homey, filled with teaboxes, tons of coffee and tea sets and embroidered kitchen cloths and tablecloths, chocolate in solid and liquid and powder form, too. I marvel for a while and then allow temptation to vanquish: I purchase some Azteq chili chocolate powder. My friend closes the shop, we start walking toward my place of accommodation. It’s dark, there seems to be a drizzle in the air, it’s cool but I’m not cold, I’m hauling my bags. Yes, only here for two days but I needed to be prepared, I have a towel and clothes and some food, make-up, hygiene stuff, camera (it’s a big bulky thing), book, etcetera. I’m a woman, for us travelling is a way of life.

My fiancé’s mom offered to put me up in her London dental practice. There’s no shower, the toilet is at the bottom of the staircase, and my ass is freezing off in the cold. No matter, this is an adventure, or what. My future mom-in-law has scattered letters and messages all over her office regarding the whereabouts of everything I could need. The portable electric heater seems to start very slowly. Moreover, it doesn’t start at all. There might be a problem, it seems, there can’t be more than 12 degrees Celsius in the office. I’m cold. My facial skin is cold. It brings to mind Moscow, 2005, figure skating world championships, go Plushenko, three-star hotel with gigantic crevice along the windows. I caught my worst cold ever in that hotel. I would not like to repeat that just before Josh’s concert. Me and Gee plug and click and discuss for half an hour and then I call Maarit, who explains where to find things. Turns out, her business partner had completely rearranged the entire office during the day. Yay, there’s a heater just under the dental chair, and IT WORKS. There’s hot water also, the sink is circular and appr. 6-7 inches in diameter, but that only means that I’ll wash myself under romantic circumstances, like our great-grandmothers. Gee leaves shortly, I’m left alone, I lock myself in, I grab a few bites, I brush my teeth and burrow myself deep under the duvet. Even with the radiator turned on I shiver for several hours, my skin won’t warm up from its icy temperature. I can’t sleep, anyway, the beautiful chaos of London that was visible from bird’s view is now fully audible, too, the city never rests, the traffic is continuous from dusk till dawn. I occasionally start when I hear a noise. Oh, yes, the upstairs neighbour is walking, almost tramping. I slowly get used to it. At times the entire building shakes itself, as if it was shivering in the cold, too. We warm each other.

I’m up at seven in the morning. After a rustic bath and a swift breakfast I gather my things and start waking toward the centre. My aim is to locate that second-hand CD shop, which years ago supplied us with a great variety of marvellous and ridiculously cheap music. It’s been a while since I last rummaged in a similar shop, looking at the covers, reading the song titles, guessing the style of music from the instrumentation, listening to my guts. Alas, the Piccaddily Circus in a morning light and not over-populated by people is an entirely different universe from when I last saw it. I don’t recognize the streets, the area is almost beautiful, I’m close to genuinely falling in love with it. The Soho is filled with red lamp shops, what if I walked into one of them. I visited one when I was eighteen, a well-meaning acquaintance took me there with strictly educational purposes. I then think that perhaps Josh himself wouldn’t mind a gift from a similar shop, he’d probably consider it funny, he’s crazy like that – but the venue is slightly more conservative than that, me appearing with an adult gift object would seem a little off, especially if they search our bags at the entrance. (They didn’t. Josh did once get some handcuffs. Perhaps I should have kept the custom alive…?) In the end, I discard the sex-shopping but inwardly grin at the thought that I definitely could do it, if I wanted to. That intoxicating sense of freedom…

A French friend promised to get to the queue around 11 o’clock. Uhm, you’re asking, what? Queue? We’ll be allowed inside in order of arrival. We’ll be approximately 1,000 people. I don’t consider myself a true hard-core fan but it would be great to talk to Nathalie and I don’t have anything better to do, anyway, so I go. I throw in a snadwich and fries at McDonald’s. I need the energy. The doors will open at 7 in the eveing. A rough calculation says that’ll be eight hours. Outside in the cold.

I’m not the first one, there are a few in front of me… I count… me, the egotistic one… there are eighteen. I’m no. nineteen. Holy crap. We are going to sit in one of the front rows. Holy crap! I don’t know anyone from the middle-aged and younger ladies. The usual audience. There’s a very old lady with a very likeable face, she has a walking stick, she can hardly stand. She’s going to stand for eight hours, naturally, at some point someone gets her a portable plastic chair. There are thermal coats and blankets, thermoses, folding chairs. These people know the drill. They come from Denmark, England, Scotland. I find Mary-Margaret who kindly offered to sell her second ticket for my friend Gee. Soon two German girls arrive, I don’t know them either, but they are nice. One of them is not even a fan, she’s only keeping company to her best friend, they came in the morning and are flying back tomorrow morning, they will sleep at the airport. That’s what I call friendship! Then, a lady in her forties arrives, I don’t know her but I instantly like her. After a while I say hello to her and she asks me, are you Krisz? I say, yeah. And she is Julia from the “Bad Grobanite” thread. What a thrill! We’re both glad. We hit the common notes instantly, we chat a lot. She mentions that the security people had been warned: the fans of Josh Groban are a little bit crazy. What can I say… it’s not very flattering. (In the light of what happened later, it is, sadly, true.) A French woman in her thirties arrives, I ask her, do you know Nathalie? She says, she’s a good friend of mine. And then Nathou herself arrives. Wow, this is so great! I’ve known her for years but this is the first time we’ve met in person. She’s the one who won our Hungarian Grobanite Package created for the Grobanites for Charity Holiday Auction. She waited until the last minute, the tricky one, and bid on it then! She’s wondering why there wasn’t a bigger turnout at the bidding, it was a great package full of useful things. (You hear that, my Hungarian friends who contributed?) We talk about her trip to South-Africa, about Josh, about all kinds of things. The time passes, the people keep arriving. It passes slowly and people arrive slowly, too. But the company is great and that’s the main thing. The sun is still up, the cold is relatively bearable.

At 2 in the afternoon I’m well frozen over, I’ve already been to the McDonald’s across the street to pee and drink a coffee. Julia is an amazing gal, cool, open-minded, nice and honest. I’m happy she’s here, she’s waiting for her daughter, who emerges with a warm sandwich for her mom and is very cool, a genuinely straight-forward teenager.

Three o’clock. I’m very cold. People keep coming but the queue is still short. The faces of those arriving around now display some disappointment. Who would have thought that there would be a queue already?! Norma comes, a middle-aged lady in a wheelchair, she can walk but she’s ill. But only her body, because her soul is soaring. She smiles, she tells stories, she cracks jokes and starts distributing food enough to feed a whole army: sandwiches, cookies, crackers, tea. Madness. Nathalie will stay with her. Norma’s daughter arrives, too, around four. She’s young and beautiful, she suddenly asks me: “Hogy vagy?” That’s “How are you” in Hungarian. Turns out, she has a Hungarian friend. Madness! People are coming, people are trickling. Before five o’clock my every cell is frozen over, I’m a perpetum mobile in an effort to stay alive. Good to see I’m not the only one freezing. But perhaps I’m freezing the most, me and a girl from Chile who is obviously even colder than I am, she’s studying in Cambridge for a few weeks, she got to know Josh’s music through a Grobanite friend of hers and she’ll be the one to see him live first! Nathalie’s dad is from Chile, too, Nathou and the girl start speaking in Spanish, what bliss for them. (And me that I can listen in, me and my fiancé started studying the language a few months ago.)

Five pm. It’s cold, it’s dark, we are many. Two more hours. There’s a rumour that a smaller crowd is waiting at the back of the chapel, waiting for the artist himself. Me and Julia walk back, we might as well move a little. Indeed, he hasn’t arrived yet. We eventually decide to go back, what’s the point in getting a mere hello? He wouldn’t stop for more, anyway. We pop in to McDonald’s, a number of Grobies keep walking in and out at intervals, they use the restroom and carry coffee and food to those in the queue.

Half past five. We are cold. (I am well beyond the state of simply being cold.) I spot Lizzie whom I’ve known for a long time from FOJG, she’s from Norway. Hug, joy. She says Anja and Tea are also in the queue, around the end. We walk there, hugs, more joy. They are from Croatia. I’ve known them for a good while, too. With them is a tiny, slender little girl who flew in all the way from the States. Madness!!! And then Eszter says hi, she landed not so long ago, she flew in from Budapest today, she’s with Luca, her friend who lives in London. Finally I get to meet her, too, I give her a hug, I squash Eszter in a hug, we do some squealing. We’ve known each other three years, me and Eszter, Josh brought us together. She’s one of the most important people in my life, Josh is just one of the countless things that keep us together. I tell her, don’t worry, this is not our place in the queue. We start walking, Eszter keeps staring, and then her jaw drops when we arrive. Indeed, we will be sitting well in the front! Luca bids farewell, she goes on a “hunt” in her high-heeled boots, she’s very pretty and we wish her good luck. She’s cool, I think I could easily like her.

Six o’clock! Only one hour, peeps! From here on we count the minutes. Exciting! Around the front of the queue there seem to be more people than previously. We start to feel a bit edgy. A few harsh remarks fly across the air. We’re tired, we’re cold, we want to go inside. It’s cold. It’s very cold. We start cracking jokes, we eat (as long as you eat you don’t feel the cold, interesting), we count the minutes. The friend of the German fan is suffering big time… no wonder. Only forty minutes left! A few people stop by the front of the queue and linger. Why are they lingering? They wanna buy tickets. Give us a break, we laugh. Who’s the imbecile who is ready to sell their own tickets to this show?! Two girls are very conspicuously standing there, Jlia has had enough, she walks up to them and tells them to not infiltrate the front of the queue, if possible. They say that they only want to buy tickets… all right. A little while later someone shouts to the girls that they can find tickets across the street! The girls run, from person to person. I don’t get it, where are they going? The German girl is showing Josh’s tweet of a few minutes ago: Look for the ticket where they clothe Superman. The two girls fall into the red phone booth, in a few minutes they jump out screaming: they found two tickets!!! It was Josh’s creative game, he promised in the morning that one could win something if one followed his tweets. What a beautiful coincidence that those two girls got the tickets! We receive them joyfully and with cheers, they are laughing. Someone remarks: to the end of the line, please… My mouth is bitter. Nonetheless, our spirits are lifted by the unexpected playful moment. And there is only a half hour left!

The last minutes crawl by incredibly slowly but eventually the door behind which the miracle awaits, does open. Eveyone makes an effort to push others in a dsicreet manner. All three of us sit down in row 4. It’s wonderfully close to the stage. Astonishingly close. Just like in 2007, I sat in row 4 just facing the microphone stand. I am a little bit to the left this time, not a problem, I can take photos from a better angle. We stare at the simple but lovely set, couch, small table, wine (?), a piano, a mic stand, a tall leather stool. The chapel is beautiful, the ornate ceiling is covered in wood, the stained glass windows are gorgeous. The seating area is small, there are people upstairs in the gallery, the visibility is great from every spot. Oh my God!!!

By the time we become excited beyond our brains the lights start dimming out, Tariqh comes in and is received with large ovation, he sits down and before we could gather our wits in comes Josh. The chapel explodes. God’s house is hosting a lot of joy right now. We are almost irreverently loud. No one really cares, he’s here, he’s dressed in grey jeans and a snow white shirt. I seem to find duality in his clothes, too. He is beautiful. Literally speaking and without the shadow of a doubt he is a beautiful young man, his hair is messy, his cheeks are full, he looks healthy and his gigantic sunrise-eyes light up the entire hall. He is visibly shocked by the reception of his audience. He’s sprightly and wastes no time, he says hello with a few words and we’re already laughing at a joke. He sits down at the piano and plays “Changing colours”. It’s a simple song, pretty and with a deep message. He sounds amazing! His voice is slightly brazen, raspy. Oh dear Lord, he sounds so good… I think no one has really grasped that he is here, that he is beautiful and that he is singing for us. I try my camera, without a flash like they asked us. I didn’t believe it but the camera takes incredibly good photos. I lose my wits, I click away, I need memories and those unable to come need them also… He asks us where we’re from. From everywhere! There’s someone even from Malaysia. If I hadn’t said it yet, madness with cherry on top!!! I yell Hungary, but the hubbub drowns out my voice. Doesn’t matter! He points at someone in the first row and says, “God bless you, I’ve seen you at every show, always in row 1, seriously, thank you very much”. He sings. I forget the order of the songs… they come one after the other, “Bells of New York City”, he says that’s a difficult one to play live, if he messes up, we have to forgive him… it sounds painfully beautiful. One of my favourites from the new album. “Hidden away”, “February song”. Oh, geez. I’m scared a little, how will SF sound without the overwhelming instrumentation? I’ll tell you how: perfect. The voice and the piano are enough… perfect! After that, someone takes him a gift, and what ensues is an AVALANCHE of gifts. I’m not joking. Avalanche. For fifteen minutes gifts are transported to the stage, wine, Belgian chocolate (“what, do you wanna kill me? my face will be full of chocolate pieces, I’ll look great”), someone painted a large canvas of him, a portrait, it’s commanding, Josh is visibly impressed. There are people coming, a small photo album with funny pictures (“separated at birth”), Josh laughs his gorgeous laugh and then glances at the lady, who stands very straight. “You are no. 1,000 to read this, your reward is a hug”. Josh plays any and every game, he hugs her, she comes back to sit down just behind us, she moans that her legs are jelly. (Duh.) He gets some honey, too (“I see I can start my own cooking show after this”), he receives God knows what not. He carries the gifts away, he pulls faces, he gestures, “so my next song is uhm…”, but there is no way he can sing, because they keep coming and he keeps carrying away the gifts, he plays with his face and his body for our entertainment. Someone says, “that’s for Tariqh” and he replies, “oh great so I’m a carrier now”. We laugh non-stop, it’s been minutes of continuous laughter, my jaw’s in a cramp, Gee’s roaring too but she records it with her iPhone. Strangely, the beautiful songs have not moved me to tears, but from the jokes and the glee something snaps in me and my tears start rolling down my cheek. It’s not the crying from laughing kind of thing, it’s crying for real. Someone in the front row tells him that her mom cannot see him as she is blind but she is very happy to be here and she loves Josh very much, could she get to meet him personally? Josh crouches by the edge of the stage, the old lady stands up, Josh takes her hand, he says hello to her nicely, I was crying to begin with, but now… Someone from above wants to say something, he speaks up and says that a relative of hers has recently passed away from leukemia but Josh’s music, especially “To where you are” has helped her go through the hard times. Josh thanks her, then goes on singing. “Un dia llegara”, he can hardly get into the mood after all the laughter and jokes, we don’t help him in the least bit, he tries singing but ends up grinning, he cracks a joke, we roar, and then he adopts his poker face and starts singing for real and we die a little of joy… he nails the difficult high note in “manana”, his voice is tired, very, but he nails it, we clap hard… In between songs he takes questions from the audience. What is more difficult, the writing of music or that of the lyrics? Tough question, for him the music is easier. That’s good because I wrote you some lyrics, if you get inspired to add some music to it, says a woman somewhere. We’ll see, Josh says, and takes the sheets, we never know, he adds. What is the background of “London Hymn”? He says that “War at home” was written after a visit to a military hospital and it’s a very sad song; “London Hymn” is meant to be a kind of closure, it’s about the acceptance of death and the letting go of anger, the importance of forgiveness and the finding of peace. And since we’re at it… he starts singing and playing “War at home”. It is painfully beautiful… my heart cracks open from the pain in this song. He then introduces the next song, the one that was most difficult for him to sing from the first album, he has always dreaded singing it, it was recorded when he was seventeen, the first song they ever recorded with him. “Vincent”. Oh, sweet delectable death. He talks about how he loves roaming in strange cities and countries, he goes into museums, he tastes local culture and one of his favourite songs, which is again from his first album, is a bit about that. “Gira con me” is sung and I beg Gee to record it, I offer to hold the iPhone as her arm’s in a cramp. I hold it and look and listen and marvel at the sight and at the sound. Sung in his voice today the song is even more beautiful. A thousand times more beautiful! Eszter and I die a little. He says, let’s see who the oldest married couple is in the audience. Forty years. Twenty-two years. Come up on the stage! The audience goes bananas. A grl (it is Anja) calls out, “I don’t have a date”, Josh is game, he calls her up, too. I cheer for her, I’m so happy for her! Anja syas she’s 21. Josh is playfully flirting, we cackle. He sits them down on the couch and offers wine to everybody. And then says, “and now that I brought you all here, I’m gonna sing a song on breaking up”. Roaring. “Broken vow” is not my favourite song by him, but at the end in the chorus his voice cracks a little and becomes raspy and I almost get an audio-visual orgasm. Holy heavens. When it’s over, he starts walking up to the couples but Anja literally grabs him and gives him a huge hug, Josh loses his balance almost. This is not cool. The bitter taste in my mouth returns. Then they leave the stage, but Anja is relentless. “What does a girl have to do around here to sing a duet with you? Because I also sing.” She is quite pushy. The audience is laughing, but I am unable to. Josh: “I can see I’ll sing with you one day… but not today.” He looks slightly uncomfortable. You can feel it in the atmosphere, on his tone and behaviour. But he is a good sport, he’s smiling, it’s no big deal, it’s only my stomach, especially since I know Anja. I cannot help this. It’s a gut reaction and I may be totally mistaken but it’s how I see it and I am very sorry that I may be hurting people… Finally, he says, “for you guys… it’s Per te”. THIS is heaven, for sure… and then they say goodbye. Of course there is an encore. They knew they would be called back and they were. Two more songs: “Galileo”, absolutely undescribably beautifully sung despite his walking up and down, he can’t even get in the zone properly, he shoves his hand in his pocket, a relaxed kid in jeans, and yet, within the man there is undoubtedly an angel. All the way. The very last song is “Play me” that I have never heard before, its lyrics are beautiful… simple, tender.

And it’s over. One and a half hours, they flew by. We cried and we laughed. He is a miracle. Musician, singer, pianist (he plays the piano bloody well), boy next door, clown, helper, leader, muse, crystal child. Disperser of problems. Watching and listening to him is like marvelling in the sunrise. He gives you energy, he inspires you, he makes you fall in love. Whoever hasn’t seen him in concert cannot know why it hurts so much to leave after a Josh Groban show. Here I am a little bit at home… that is, I was. It’s but a memory now. It’s over, it was yesterday. The present tense is gone, but we still walk to the back of the chapel, he will come out, they say. There is a car right at the exit, we know that means he won’t stay long. There are so many of us. Taking pictures, using the flash, recording everything. Josh is not even here yet. When he comes, the crowd starts flowing. He is guarded well by security. He signs, fast and a lot. There are many people. We never have a chance to get closer. He only stays ten minutes, he sits into the car, he is taken away. We wave goodbye.

I don’t feel like saying goodbye to anyone, it’s cold, I fell out of the love-cocoon, I am utterly cold. Eszter and Luca say goodbye, she sees how changed I am, she doesn’t press me with questions. She knows me. Gee is chatty, she’s had a difficult day, she would need me if I was able to support her. I’m silent, I only walk beside her, I try to pay attention to her. I fail. I’m a horrible friend. She asks, am I depressed? It was great, she says. I nod. I am depressed, and I can’t even explain why. It was a beautiful concert, the sound was amazing, a musical delicacy even if I hadn’t known the artist. I could try to explain all day long what Josh means to me and what it means to me to see him live. So many, so many things changed in me because of him, I discovered so many treasures thanks to him, and I don’t only mean my friends I met through him, but also music that he suggested and I listened and loved, or experiences that he drove me into. I did so many things because of him, he has moved me in so many ways. He has brought the stars and the sun to me, he helped me connect with my inner voice, he reminded me of the fact that he is only a mirror in which I see myself and that all the beauty I see in him is present in me, too. I know his fights, I’ve seen him happy and sad, I heard him when he was ill and healthy, too. I saw him when he was fragile and still doing his job, I’ve seen him sincerely giving, I guessed things that he never said, felt them and wrote them into words. I know him even if we never met, even if we never exchanged a word. To me he is all the above, and more. Being depressed that I can’t see him any more may seem like a childish whim, the behaviour of a crazed fan – but He represents the Light when everything else fails to show it to me; when nothing else is enough to inspire me, He does. He’s also searching himself, sometimes our struggles overlap. He’s my friend in the struggle, I learn from his mistakes. And if I could, I would bring down the Sun and the Moon and everything that could make him happier, I would tell him everything I know and he doesn’t yet, even though it is not my place to do it. I long to be near gim as his friend but I’m only in the background, one face among the endless, faceless mass of fans. I clap and cheer and often expect things of him, and then I feel ashamed and lie low for a while. I’ve never had, and most probably will never have the chance to tell him even a part of what I feel for him. I can’t give him anything, however much I would love to. This is why I’m depressed, and also because of the fact that he would love to keep on giving, and giving, and giving, more and more, he let us into his house, his living-room, he shows us everything, he takes us up on the stage, he sings himself into illness, he’s tired and yet goes to give autographs, and it’s still not enough for us. And this will only end when he loses his trust in us completely, or when he perishes in the effort to keep giving more because he feels it’s never enough, because we make him feel that way. Both alternatives are horrible…

I miss him badly, I’m freezing to the bone. I am homesick, I long to be back in the Light, in the warmth. I am insatiable, one can never get enough love… and I know I’m selfish, but the only thing that keeps me going in this moment is the thought of seeing this strange, two-faced angel who has come to us in human form to show us the way.