Shepherds Bush Empire, London 27 May 2011
50th anniversary show neatly topped and tailed the band's stop-start
career up to and including the newly released 'Breathe Out, Breathe In'
CD. And if tonight provided few surprises, it turned out to be a timely
celebration of the life and times of the extant Zombies personnel and
the successful spin off solo careers of Colin Blunstone and Rod Argent.
by the array of different languages at the bar, the band's international
influence shines on brightly, albeit with an audience who for the most
part were grateful for the additional seating provided on the night.
But, no matter, to share an evening with The Zombies is to embark on
a journey through one of rock's most enduring back catalogues.
It was an
occasion to pay homage to a band who created some of the 60's most
essential psychedelic tinged pop and who only years later gained their
deserved critical acclaim.
It's good to
report then that the inclusion of the new material brought an extra
dimension to the set and suggests they have successfully updated their
own unique style.
In some ways
the core duo of Colin Blunstone and Rod Argent make strange bed fellows.
The prodigious song writer and keyboard playing Rod Argent is the rocker
whose material takes us from delicate ballads to rougher hewn rock
anthems while Colin's delicate vocal swoops, breathy phrasing and
Candide like presence brings full expression to a succession of Zombies
And on the
occasion of their 50th anniversary show, we were treated to two
appearances either side of the interval by the other surviving original
members of the band, the celebrated song writer and bassist Chris White
(who still has a good voice) and drummer Hugh Grundy who brought some
serious bottom end to the proceedings along side a 4 piece horn section.
overcoming a ropey start in which the mid tempo openers such as the
stop-time dynamics of 'I Love You' and the bluesy ballad ''Can't Nobody
Love You' came dangerously close to cabaret, things stepped up a gear
with the title track of the new album 'Breathe Out, Breathe In'.
delivered an impressive muscular vocal on 'Show Me The Way' from the new
album while Colin was no less impressive on one of his very best self
penned efforts 'Any Other Way', which featured Tom Toomey on acoustic
and seemed to be played at twice the speed of the recorded version, but
still worked brilliantly.
penchant for bv's and 'oohs and aaahs' fitted well on Colin's cover of
'What Becomes of the Broken Hearted', complete with a startling opening
metal riff and he brought real presence to bear on a cover of Alan
Parson's 'Old And Wise'.
And so to
the band's core history as Rod introduced a 6 songs cycle from their
recently re-issued masterpiece 'Odessey & Oracle'. As with several
sections of the show, Rod introduced some of the songs in pairs, which
had the virtue of providing a meaningful context and giving a sense of
place to the 44 year old material, even if it did kill any semblance of
was no doubting the lyrical poignancy of 'Care of Cell 44' and Colin
provided one of the moments of the night with his understated but
masterful phrasing on 'A Rose for Emily'.
Rod's meandering Procol Harum influenced organ line just about carried
along the slightly pedestrian 'Beechwood Park', 'Time of the Season'
once again underlined one of the main reasons for the band durability.
set asked us to skip 4 decades and embrace new songs such as the Beatles
influenced 'Play It For Real', the sweeping vista of a 'A Moment in
Time' and the gospel influenced four part harmonies of 'I Do Believe'.
still time for a quick glance over Rod's shoulder for Argent's anthemic,
clap along 'Hold Your Head Up' and a delightful stripped down version of
There' was played twice as part of the encore, this time reprised by the
full 12 piece ensemble to provide another one of those spine tingling