The reviews from the current Zombies tour featuring singer Colin Blunstone and keyboardist Rod Argent are starting to come in. This one was pulled from one of the mailing lists I’m on and sums things up pretty nicely. Naturally they aren’t coming anywhere near Detroit.
“OK, that was pretty surreal – ‘That’ was tonight’s Zombies show in NYC.
I suppose I shouldn’t have been too shocked to get an opportunity to see
them. I learned long ago that it ain’t over until all of the band
members are dead. I never expected to see live shows by The Jefferson
Airplane, The Grass Roots, Led Zeppelin (Live Aid), Ron Dante, George
Harrison (Dylan anniversary), but I did; why should the Zombies be any
Well, for starters, the band was only together for about six years and
broke up when I was two years old. Before the recent reunion, their last
live show anywhere occurred before my second birthday, and their last NYC
show appears to have taken place before I was born. When I was growing
up and getting into music, the only one of their records in print
domestically was a strange Epic compilation, Time of the Zombies — a two
LP set which included, as the second LP, Odessey & Oracle, without
explaining anywhere in the liner notes that the record was presented
intact. (But I’m lucky the thing existed so I was able to get into the
Zombies at the tender age of 16.) Add to all of that the fact that they
managed to remain split up for over 30 years, and the odds certainly
seemed stacked against me.
Fortunately, in Zombie Heaven, anything can happen. The Zombies (or at
least Rod, Colin and friends and family) put on a tremendous show in
front of an appreciative and frighteningly electic crowd tonight. (There
looked to be at least three generations of fans on hand.) They played
for nearly two hours and performed songs from all across their history —
Zombies, Argent, Colin solo, Rod and Colin’s new record, and even one of
the Alan Parsons Project songs Colin sang lead on.
The highlight for me was the Zombies songs. They played the biggies —
She’s Not There, I Love You, Tell Her No & Time of the Season, but also
managed to sneak in some less obvious and delightful selections.
Indication, Just Out of Reach, Summertime, and half of O&O. Sure, Care
of Cell 44 and This Will Be Our Year weren’t big surprises. But it was
pretty amazing to hear A Rose For Emily, and recent set addition
Beechwood Park gave me shivers. And nothing in the world could ever have
prepared me for witnessing the first live performance EVER of one of my
absolute favorite Zombies songs, I Want Her She Wants Me. That’s right
— it was recorded 37 years ago but never played live, according to Rod,
until tonight! (And I didn’t even have to show my chest, Harris!)
The band sounded great — very tight. Vocals were pretty damn solid for
a bunch of old men. Rod’s voice has held together better than Colin’s,
but Colin had some incredible moments (like “and I don’t know what to
say” in I Love You). And Rod has, without a doubt, the best right hand
in the business. He’s on a whole different level from most other
keyboardists — maybe even beyond Wakeman and Emerson. His leads were
blazing! You just don’t see that from rock keyboardists anymore. Rod’s
cousin Jim Rodford looked like somebody’s redneck grandpa but did a fine
job on bass and backing vocals, Jim’s son played decent drums (but made
no attempt to emulate Hugh Grundy), and Keith Airey was on guitar and
probably had a few too many Yngwie moments, considering the material.
Overall, great musicians, great performance. (Crummy venue, though . .
If you like the Zombies or think you might, you gotta go see this show.
You won’t be disappointed!
Three quick bursts of Zombies weirdness:
The Zombies spawned multiple sets of stateside imposters, who would book shows as the Zombies and play Zombies songs. Read all about it here.
“On December 13, 1969, I saw a group billed as the Zombies at the Aerodrome in Schenectady, NY. They played all Zombies material in the Zombies style, BUT THEY WEREN’T THE ZOMBIES. The band, I believe now, had broken up at that point. The band members names were John (voc), Terry (guitar), Howie (organ), Eddie (bass), Gary (drums). I met them after the show (thinking they were the original group) and got their autographs and they gave me a mailing address. I have the original ad and picture from the Troy, NY newspaper… [Depicting a band who are clearly not the Zombies.]”
2.) Colin Blunstone, Post-Zombies
After the Zombies broke up, singer Colin Blunstone became a clerk for Sun insurance company. He reemerged in 1968 with a solo single under the name Neil Macarthur. The single featured a bizarre reinterpretation of the Zombies classic ‘She’s Not There,’ adding an urgent string arrangement over the choruses and weirdly predicting the feel of Santana’s cover’ version in the verses. I’ve posted an mp3 of the Neil MacArthur version here. Blunstone went on to add vocals to a few Alan Parsons Project albums (‘Pyramid and ‘Eye in the Sky’) and the Parsons-produced band Keats. None of these projects are nearly as interesting as his work with the Zombies.
3.) Rod Argent, Post-Zombies
After the Zombies broke up, keyboardist Rod Argent formed a band bearing his own surname, scoring hits with ‘God Gave Rock and Roll to You’ (Kiss later covered it) and ‘Hold Your Head Up.’ They also revisited some Zombies material, delivering a truly ridiculous live version of ‘Time of the Season’ that appears on ‘Encore: Live in Concert‘ and ‘Anthology: The Best of Argent.’ After Argent split up in 1975, Mr. Argent appeared as a session player on quite a few records, including “all Andrew Lloyd Webber stuff from “Variations” in 1977, up through “Phantom of the Opera” in 1985.