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Singing Your Life with The Zombies

The Zombies in Atlanta 2018

ROD ARGENT AND COLIN BLUNSTONE began making music as The Zombies eleven years before I was born. By the time I was riding around in my parents’ Chevrolet Caprice Classic in the late 1960s and early 1970s, the British rock band had written several hits and perfected the tonal transition from the tinniness of AM radio to the warmth of FM. “Time of the Season” served as an early childhood staple, and my first memories of looking out the backseat window at the twists and turns of two-lane highways in our South Carolina town are accompanied by the dizzying arpeggios of Argent’s psychedelic organ solos and Blunstone’s sweet tenor.

Seeing the band at Atlanta’s City Winery on March 16, 2018 felt like a homecoming fifty years in the making. With Argent at the keys and Blunstone out front with his tenor vocals that oscillated between pre-rock opera and gauzy falsetto, The Zombies (including touring musicians Tom Toomey on guitar, Soren Koch on bass, and drummer Steve Rodford, whose father Jim, a longtime bass player for the band, died in January of this year) took the audience back to another era of musicianship––one which existed before algorithms and concerts with piped-in instruments. The Zombies also brought new riffs to their personal compositions and joyfully performed bits by various musical influences ranging from Bach to Bacharach to Bo Diddley.

Across the 17-song set, the band covered material from their 1965 self-titled debut album up through 2015’s Still Got That Hunger (including a few selections from the 1968 perennial favorite LP, Odessey and Oracle) as well as Argent’s numbers, “Hold Your Head Up” and “God Gave Rock and Roll To You” (a song also recorded by Kiss).

The Zombies’ performance repertoire bridged the swinging 1960s through the Summer of Love and into the soul and jazz-inspired rock of the early 1970s. No wonder Argent name-checked the band’s celebrity fans such as Dave Grohl and Paul Weller (who apparently buys extra copies of The Zombies’ albums to hand out to friends who’ve never heard the band) … what’s not to love? Argent and Blunstone are in their 70s, but age matters little when delivering a lifetime of singalong melodies–– the only thing required is heart, and these guys gave plenty of that.

Set list:

1. Road Runner (Bo Diddley)

2. The Love of Love (Burt Bacharach and Hal David)

3. I Want You Back Again

4. I Love You (written by Chris White)

5. Sanctuary

6. Moving On

7. Edge of the Rainbow

8. Tell Her No

9. You’ve Really Gotta Hold On Me (Smokey Robinson)/Bring it On Home to Me (Sam Cooke)

10. Give Me That Hunger

11. Care of Cell 44

12. This Will Be Our Year

13. I Want Her, She Wants Me

14. Time of the Season

15. Hold Your Head Up

16. She’s Not There

17. God Gave Rock and Roll To You

© 2018 Kristi York Wooten

(Photo by Kristi York Wooten)


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