By Steve Carlson //
The last year has been pretty good to singer-songwriter Drew Holcomb. Since releasing the critically lauded LP Medicine in early 2015, which debuted at No. 47 on the Billboard 200, he has toured extensively with his band The Neighbors in support of the record (including a visit to The Masonic in SF last summer to open for NEEDTOBREATHE), launched his own vinyl record club called Magnolia Record Club and continued to host the successful Moon River Music Festival in Memphis, which he founded two years ago. By this point, late in the album cycle for Medicine, you could expect that it might feel like a bit of a victory lap for Holcomb and his band when they came to town last Thursday night to perform at The Chapel — and it certainly felt that way for the capacity crowd by the end of the night.
Starting things off was folk/country artist Sean McConnell, who has had his share of success as a songwriter for such country superstars as Tim McGraw and Martina McBride. Now based in Nashville, McConnell quickly won over the audience with his sentimental, soulful ballads, including the show-stopping “Shotgun”, which he noted was recently recorded with Buddy Miller and Christina Aguilera for the ABC television series “Nashville”. But the highlight of McConnell’s set came with the rollicking “Save Our Soul”, a good old-fashioned, take-you-to-church country song that repeats the refrain “we all need a good second coming/a rebirth of rock ‘n’ roll/I can hear the guitars humming/someone save our soul”. It’s hard to imagine a better song to play at The Chapel, and the crowd happily responded with foot stomping and hollering aplenty. McConnell mentioned that he hasn’t toured much on the West Coast but hopes to more in the future.
After a short break, it was Drew Holcomb and The Neighbors’ turn to lead the faithful, and it’s safe to say he didn’t disappoint. The crowd was clearly well-acquainted with Holcomb’s music and showed the band plenty of love early and often. As one would expect, the setlist leaned heavily on material from Medicine, but also featured a number of cuts off 2013’s Good Light, including the album’s title track and a beautiful solo rendition of “What Would I Do Without You” during the encore. Holcomb also dug deeper into his catalog to unearth “Hallelujah”, which he paired nicely with a few bars of Counting Crows staple “Mr. Jones”. A few songs later, he gathered with his bandmates around a ribbon mic for hushed renditions of “Ain’t Nobody Got It Easy” and “Fire and Dynamite”, which were highlights of the night.
Late in the set, Holcomb opened the floor up to requests, which led to two more tracks off of Good Light: “Tennessee” and “Another Man’s Shoes”. The latter showed off Holcomb’s good nature as he struggled through the song (which he admitted to not having played in awhile), mixing up verses and forgetting lyrics, but he did it with both laughter and self-deprecation throughout. As the night came to a close and Holcomb launched into his final number, the lighthearted, call-and-response tune entitled “Here We Go”, he warned the audience with a grin that “the next three-and-a-half minutes are going to be fun!” Judging by the singing and dancing that took place over those three and a half minutes in addition to the thunderous and sustained applause as the band took their bows, he was undoubtedly right.
Nothing But Trouble
Hallelujah > Mr. Jones (Counting Crows cover)
You’ll Always Be My Girl
When It’s All Said and Done
I Like to Be With Me When I’m With You
Ain’t Nobody Got It Easy
Fire and Dynamite
Another Man’s Shoes
Shine Like Lightning
What Would I Do Without You
Here We Go