Drew Holcomb & The Neighbors at the Summit, May 3, 2024

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Nathan Dugger, Drew Holcomb & Rich Brinsfield

I have a video playlist I like to cycle through whenever I need a little bit of a pick-me-up. You know… you’re having a tough day, and you just need something to bring you back to your happy place. Two of the videos from that list are courtesy of Drew Holcomb & The Neighbors. Those two are “Family” and “Find Your People.” If you’ve never seen them, do yourself a big favor. They’re guaranteed to put a smile on your face.

Friday at Denver’s Summit (formerly known as the Summit Music Hall), I got to do one better than watch the videos. I, along with about 1,000 of my new best friends, got to see Drew Holcomb & The Neighbors perform those two songs (plus a lot of others) live. Denver was the twenty-first stop of the Find Your People Tour, which started on April 4 in Lexington, KY, and concludes with two nights at the fabled Ryman Auditorium in Nashville on May 17th and 18th.

Holcomb has been bringing us his engaging brand of Americana music since 2003, when he released his first solo EP, Lost And Found. Two years later he joined with Nathan Dugger (guitar, keys) and Rich Brinsfield (bass) to form Drew Holcomb & The Neighbors. The newly formed band released their first album, the holiday themed A Neighborly Christmas, in late 2007, and followed up with their first non-themed album, Passenger Seat, in August of 2008. Since then they’ve released eight additional studio and two live albums, including their most recent release, Strangers No More, which dropped in June of last year.

Drew Holcomb

There’s a lot going on with and in the music of Holcomb & The Neighbors. The vocals and the musicianship, across the board, are world class. The music itself, which moves from soft and heartfelt to soaring and inspiring, is felt as well as heard. But what really defines who and what this band is, is the songwriting. Their songs are grounded in elemental aspects of everyday life… themes that sometimes get lost in the hustle and bustle of that everyday life. That includes themes like community, unity, resilience, love, human connection, and living in the moment. These themes resonate with their listeners and form a bond between the band and their audience that is palpable when they come together, as they did Friday night.

The evening’s one hour and forty-minute, twenty-one-song set kicked off at a couple minutes past 9:00. In addition to Holcomb, Dugger and Brinsfield, the band’s current lineup includes Will Sayles on drums and Ian Miller on keys.

Early in the set Holcomb promised they were planning to play a lot of songs, covering a lot of ground. The band made good on that promise, delivering songs from five of their albums, three singles (including two new songs that have been recorded since Strangers No More was released), two covers, and the pseudo-cover “Ring The Bells,” which was officially released by Johnnyswim on their 2018 album Goodbye Road. I classify that as a pseudo-cover because Holcomb & The Neighbors did provide backup on that original recording.

Drew Holcomb

Given that this is the Find Your People Tour, it was apropos that the band opened with the song “Find Your People,” the first of six songs from the Strangers No More album. That was followed by “End of The World,” “All the Money in The World,” and “Dragons.” At this point, the band exited the stage, leaving Holcomb on his own for a two-song solo acoustic interlude of “American Beauty,” followed by a cover of the Townes Van Zandt song “Colorado Girl.” Holcomb introduced that latter tune by explaining that each night he tries to include a song in the set that would be unique to the audience to which it is was being played. That’s a pretty cool, unique, and classy gesture.

The remainder of the set was presented in a similar fashion, rotating between full band, Holcomb solo, Holcomb joined by Dugger and Brinsfield, and Holcomb joined by Donovan Woods (who opened the evening with his own solo acoustic set). See below for the full set list, which notes the player groupings for each song.

I mentioned above the deep bond that exists between the band and its fans… a bond due in great part to the themes that drive the bulk of the band’s songs. Equally important to that bond is the affection, reverence, and respect Holcomb shows for the band’s fan base. Two times during the set Holcomb climbed down from the stage for walkabouts through the crowd. The first time he set up in the middle of the floor section while he belted out a stunning version of the Adele song “When We Were Young.” The second time was during the second song of the two-song encore, “Dance with Everybody.” Announcing that he wanted to “dance with you, Denver,” he bounded through the crowd, singing and high fiving. As someone who goes to a lot of concerts, I will tell you that that level of close up and personal crowd interaction is a rare and precious thing.

Drew Holcomb “Dances” with the Summit Crowd

If you’ve read any of my show reviews on Denver Entertainment Hub, you know that I like to chat with members of the crowd both before and after shows, and occasionally include comments from them in those reviews. Prior to Friday night’s show I talked to a couple who had flown in from Illinois after having seen Holcomb and crew perform in Chicago earlier in the tour. They had flown in earlier that day, and were flying home the following day, specifically to take friends to the Summit show. Like me, the friends were first timers seeing the band perform live. Also like me, they were totally blown away by not only the quality of the performance (off the charts), but by the emotional investment exhibited by both band and audience. Rare and precious, indeed.

Full Setlist (songs performed by full band unless otherwise noted)

  • Find Your People
  • End Of The World
  • All The Money In The World
  • Dragons
  • American Beauty – Holcomb solo acoustic
  • Colorado Girl (Townes Van Zandt cover) – Holcomb solo acoustic
  • Gratitude
  • I Like to Be With Me When I’m With You
  • Soul’s A Camera
  • Avalanche
  • On A Roll
  • When We Were Young (Adele cover)
  • Fly
  • For Some Reason – Holcomb/Woods acoustic duet
  • Without A Light – Holcomb/Dugger/Brinsfield
  • Tennessee – Holcomb/Dugger/Brinsfield
  • Ring The Bells (Johnnyswim cover)
  • Here We Go
  • Family

Encore…

  • What Would I Do Without You – Holcomb solo acoustic
  • Dance With Everybody

Story and photos by Rick Witt     www.rickwittphotography.com