Paul Wellman

Five for Fighting Plays with String Quartet

John Ondrasik and Co. Light Up Lobero

Last Sunday, fans gathered to close out the weekend with the musical offerings of platinum-selling recording artist Five for Fighting (aka John Ondrasik). The evening began with a short set by folk/pop singer Marie Miller, who charmed the audience with her wit and musical prowess. The multi-instrumentalist, who has performed for Pope Francis, showcased her songwriting talent with original numbers “6‘2” and “This Side of Paradise,” and also wowed with a spare version of Bob Dylan’s “Make You Feel My Love.” Miller provided a delightful lead-in for the night’s headliner.

With a string quartet stage left, Ondrasik walked unassumingly to the grand piano he would command throughout the night, beginning his set with “World” from his 2006 record, Two Lights. Considering the current political climate, it was a fitting start, with lyrics asking, “What kind of world do you want?” and “Be careful what you wish for.” Next, Ondrasik trotted out the pleasing pop hit “The Riddle” before addressing the audience. An adept storyteller — he is an accomplished public speaker, ruminating on topics such as creativity and business — Ondrasik created a relaxed, intimate experience as he explained the origins of songs and told stories from his life.

Highlights of the evening included “Ocean” and “White Picket Fence,” both from Five for Fighting’s debut 1997 album Message for Albert, on which Ondrasik played acoustic guitar. Mega-hits “Superman” and “100 Years” also made the set list for a concert that offered an exceptional presentation of piano pop music and delightful banter — a perfect bookend to the weekend.

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