Open Wings Broken Strings Tour Brings the Nineties Back to Syracuse

Songwriters from Tonic, Sixpences None The Richer and Live came together to perform their hits as soloists at the Westcott Theater.

The Westcott Theater became a time machine transporting its audience to the heart of the 1990s with the "Open Wings Broken Strings" tour in town. Syracuse residents witnessed their favorite Live, Sixpence None The Richer and Tonic hits come to life. Vocalists Ed Kowalczyk (Live), Emerson Hart (Tonic) and Leigh Nash (Sixpence None The Richer) broke down the traditional barriers between rock stars and fans by conversing with their audience throughout the evening. 

Stripped-down of colorful lights or a stage burdened with instruments, the concert featured the three musicians' fulfilling interpretations of the tracks that made them famous. "I'll try to prove, now, emphasize try, that you do not necessarily have to have any kind of rhythm section or drum kit station in order to shake your money maker," said Kowalczyk, as he introduced his set’s first track, "The Distance".

Mostly middle aged couples in the mood for vintage hits filled about half The Westcott as they sat down for a “Saturday night feel-good” evening as Kowalczyk described it. He and Hart honored the audience's advanced (via e-mail) and live song requests. Someone in the audience asked Kowalczyk to play “I Alone."  "Dude, did you see my set list? Because you have, like, ESP. You should really look into that, it's a gift.”

The artists offered an abundance of personal details sprinkled with humor, allowing the audience a peek into their lives. "This next song ["Heaven"], I wrote about the time when my first daughter [of two, soon-to-be three] was born…If you microscope the lyrics, you'll notice that I had to change it to a plural. This is real smart. This is to avoid sibling rivalry in this Youtube generation that we're going through...they'll say ‘Dad, you said one daughter, what about me? dude?’ and I'm going to have to explain.”

Hart's amusing monologue  was peppered with complaints about the stale chips he had been served at a restaurant and the manager’s lack of sympathy. The artist scornfully dedicated "Open Your Eyes" to the manager and urged the audience to reject mediocrity.

Some of the songs featured skillful guitar riffs by Stephen Wilson, Nash’s future husband and a scientist by trade. "I found one who plays the guitar and does something else," said Nash as she introduced him with gleeful thumbs up. She delivered a heartfelt interpretation of "There She Goes." Wilson urged the audience to sing along, as he played the opening chords of "Kiss Me." Nash’s interpretation of the undeniable 90s hit met the audience’s expectation to hear this evergreen love song live.

Aside from a few youths who made loud song requests throughout the evening, the otherwise reserved audience revealed their full-blown excitement when they sang "All Over You” with verve. Kowalczyk couldn’t help but smile contently.

As the stroke of midnight approached, Kowalczyk ushered the audience back to the present with one of his latest solo releases, “Grace," penned around the time of the Haitian earthquake. He ended his set with a speech about people taking clean water for granted, while many parents in Africa and other parts of the world don't have the luxury to give their children safe water. He adlibbed one of his best known songs,  "Lightning Crashes" to promote sponsorship of African children through humanitarian organization World Vision. "What I need some more of is the desire, the desire to help others. Others just like me."

The trio took the stage one last time with a cover of "The Weight" (The Band). It seemed like the end of an evening among old friends as Kowalczyk bid Syracuse farewell. "Until next time, take care, drive safe, I know it snows a lot up here. Get them chains on the tires." 


Photo of Ed Kowalcyzk (above) also from Ana Barbu


i love this song!!!

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