If you've never seen a show at the newly renovated Lyric Theatre in Birmingham, AL -- add it to your list. On the outside, this unassuming brick building would pass as any other city facade but on the inside is this restored 1914 performing arts theatre with as much character as history. Although seating remained separate, this stunning theatre also serves as the first venue in the south that allowed both whites and blacks to watch the same performance together. It's an important piece of Southern history and was a beautiful backdrop to the soulful and folksy sounds of Drew Holcomb & The Neighbors.
The opening artists was Sean McConnell and with a close to sold out crowd, he walks out onto the vast stage with nothing but his harmonica and an acoustic guitar. Any time that an artist performs by themselves with just two instruments, you know it's going to be good. He opened up with two acoustic hits from his latest album and the crowd was diggin' it. His voice is gritty, powerful, and boasts an impressive range. It wasn't until he settled into his song "Save Our Soul" that he had the crowd in the palm of his hand. A single twangy strum of his guitar along with the lyrics " We all need a second coming, a rebirth of rock and roll. I can hear the guitar humming, someone save our soul" -- The audience erupted with applause at the pure power of Sean's voice. A New Englander-turned Nashvillian, it's clear that Sean's no stranger to that deep soulful blues/rock that seems so lost in the music industry these days. His stage banter is witty and VERY funny, this guy knows how to handle a crowd.
After a few more songs off his latest self titled album and an original rendition Boys of Summer cover, Sean's short set ended with a song he wrote for his wife called "Best We've Ever Been". He told the room that this song was a surprise for their anniversary and he debuted it while opening for Greg Allman and claims "I looked like a badass for five minutes". With lyrics like "We'll hang out with the vampires, down by waffle house" I suddenly realized this was a new favorite song of mine. Towards the end of the song, Sean unplugs from the audio, steps off the mic, and belts the last lines with just his voice to an entire room of people who had their jaws on the floor. It was such a hair raising performance, dare I say he stole the show from Drew? He was awarded a standing ovation and while I didn't catch video from Birmignham, here's an equally impressive version from Carborro, NC here.
You can catch Sean McConnell on tour now and back in Birmingham with Marty Stuart on May 5th.
Drew Holcomb & The Neighbors
The audience was ready to go after Sean's unexpected performance and when Drew took the stage in his dapper suit ensemble, I knew this Nashville native wouldn't let us down. Drew Holcomb & The Neighbors just released their latest album 'Souvenir' on March 24th, so it was a real treat to be able to be one of the first to see some of these songs performed live. He kicked off the set with Fight For Love, the third song off the album. Drew Holcomb released his first EP in 2003 and his songwriting and strong sturdy voice proves that he's been in this business for awhile. His wife, Ellie Holcomb was a staple in the band from 2008 until 2015 when she stepped out to pursue her solo career.
The fourth song in Drew's set was a personal favorite and really got the audience roaring. Mama's Sunshine, Daddy's Rain is an upbeat song written specifically for their little girl, Emmylou. A little different than his normal slow melodic pace, Drew joked "I had to write a song that wasn't depressing." The light guitar riffs and cheerful piano, had the entire theatre was on their feet and clapping along as he sang the chorus "You got your mama's sunshine, you got your daddy's rain / You're like a piece of heaven in a hurricane / And it's bubbling over like a sweet champagne / You got your mama's sunshine, you got your daddy's rain".
Immediately following that song was one of Drew's most adored songs, American Beauty, which is currently sitting at over 2.8 million streams on Spotify. After the first two notes played, the audience recognized the intro and erupted into a loud applause. The Lyric Theatre was clearly built for the performing arts. The acoustics in this room were so incredibly clear, you could hear a pin drop from the back of the highest balcony. This, combined with Drew Holcomb's velvety soft voice stuns as he begins "She was a good companion, eyes like the grand canyon, she was an American Beauty."
Continuing on, Drew played more songs off his latest release including two songs that were written in their entirety by two members of 'The Neighbors', Including Sometimes written by bassist Rich Brinsfield and Yellow Rose of Santa Fe by guitarist Nathan Dugger. The latter of which was the first time it was performed live.
The show continued on with a full night of new songs off Souvenir mixed with fan favorites such as What Would I Do Without You. See the full setlist below and catch Drew Holcomb on his remaining tour dates!
- Fight For Love
- Another Man's Shoes
- New Year
- Mama's Sunshine / Daddy's Rain
- American Beauty
- Yellow Rose of Santa Fe
- When I'm With You
- Good Light (Solo)
- Wild World (Solo)
- Postcard Memories
- Rowdy Heart
- What Would I Do Without You
- Morning Song
- Shine Light Lightning
- The Wine We Drink
- Here We Go