Drew Holcomb and the Neighbors brought classic rock and folk songs to the Gertrude C. Ford Center on Monday. Birdtalker, the opening band, opened for Holcomb with indie rock and acoustic folk music.
Holcomb and the Neighbors turned the slow Monday evening into a Saturday night jam with fast-paced folk songs about life, family and classic rock.
Holcomb sang his third song of the night, “See the World,” to his young son watching from one of the balconies of the theatre.
Holcomb talked about what some of the songs were about in his new album.
“It’s a very family-oriented record. It’s about my family,” Holcomb said.
The song called “Dragons” is about Holcomb’s grandfather; “But I’ll Never Forget the Way You Make Me Feel” is about his wife; “See the World” is about his son; and “You Never Leave My Heart” is about his brother.
Holcomb said he draws inspiration from artists like Bruce Springsteen, Tom Petty and Carole King. He also credits authors like John Steinbeck and William Faulkner with inspiring some of his work.
“I think that my wife is a big part of that,” Holcomb said. “You know, I’ve written a lot of songs about her. Certainly, like sort of the wrestling match with God is a big theme in music, like Jacob wrestling with God.”
Holcomb came back to Oxford after four years to play his latest album “Dragons” and other tracks he and his band, The Neighbors, have released.
Although Holcomb was never a student here or resident of Oxford has played here at the Lyric and Proud Larry’s numerous times throughout his career.
Before the show Holcomb talked about what he thinks of Oxford and what he did once he got here.
When Holcomb arrived in Oxford, he had breakfast at BBB with John Currence, who owns the restaurant. Then he and his family walked to the Square and did some Christmas shopping. The Holcombs spent a couple of hours at Square Books, purchasing some of the first editions and signed editions of authors that he loves.
After the show, members of Birdtalker spoke about their experience with the band.
“It’s been great to tour with them and watch how they work, ” singer Dani Green said.
For their last song, they brought the trio Birdtalker back on stage to join in Holcomb’s finale, “Dragons.”
“They’re just incredibly talented and hardworking people,” Green said. “So, it’s been very inspiring just to witness it. So then to come out for that last song and get to do that together, it’s just made us feel very included and very special.”
Holcomb invited the audience to join in on the music multiple times throughout the night.
“If you’re here tonight, you’re a part of the family, too,” Holcomb said.
The crowd joined in on multiple songs with the band as they played. The band played classics like Elton John’s “Rocket Man,” as well as hits from their latest album.
“I’ve been looking for a group that would bring in a different kind of person into the Ford Center,” Julia Aubrey, director of the Ford Center, said.
Aubrey said that she will be bringing in more diverse artists into the Ford Center following this show.
A former member of the Grateful Dead, Bruce Hornsby, will be here performing at the Ford Center in March.