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THE ZOMBIES Shepherds Bush Empire, 9 March 2008
This concluding third night by The Zombies in front of a star studded capacity crowd provided a fitting climax to a celebration of the 40th anniversary of the remarkable 'Odessey & Oracle', an album that only became successful after the band had actually split up.
The core duo of Colin Blunstone and Rod Argent had obviously thought long and hard about this project, having successfully toured in recent years under the moniker of Colin Blunstone and Rod Argent of The Zombies, perhaps saving a full blown return to the band's name for an occasion such as this with the return the band's other principal song writer Chris White and drummer Hugh Grundy.
Poignantly the evening was in part dedicated to the band's late guitarist Paul Atkinson. The night drew on the services of 17 musicians including the current tour band, a string quintet, and a full horn section.
The current tour band made a good fist of both Zombies and related material - included a funked up muscular version of Blunstone's solo hit 'What Becomes of the Broken Hearted' and more ambitiously some Blunstone solo material in the presence of a string quintet, of which the quiet beautiful 'Say You Don't Mind' was a highlight.
At the core of The Zombies career lies the delicate balance between Colin's angelic voice and fragile countenance and Rod's magnificent musicianship, impressive arrangements and restless nervousness.
Introduced by the Al Cooper - the one time CBS A&R man who championed the album back in the 60's - The Zombies quickly overcame any lingering anxieties because of Colin's undiminished vocal range as evidenced on the stunning 'Rose for Emily' and on Chris White's optimistically flighty 'This Could Be Our Year'.
Rod's consistently inventive keyboard work was accented by guest musician Darian Sanahaja on mellotron and vocals on 'Beechwood Park' - a number that still evokes a Procol Harum ethereal feel.
40 years on, 'Odessey' sounds like period 60's mood music with a curious menacing pop feel, on the back of some magnificent vocal arrangements that stretched to seven part harmonies.
One such pick of the bunch was Chris' warm lead vocal on his own dark 'Butcher's Tale', before a sense of contemporary irony was brought to bear on the luscious harmonies of 'Friend of Mine'.
By the time of the introductory breath expirations of 'Time & the Season' the band was in celebratory mood, bringing the crowd to their feet and clearly enjoying their deserved ovation. The inevitable 'She's Not There' came as a second encore and after a lengthy list of thank you's from Rod Argent.
But after a 40 year wait you can forgive anyone for milking the moment.
Review by Pete Feenstra
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