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Rod Argent is Featured Artist (May 2012) at Get Ready to ROCK! Radio

The Alban Arena, St Albans 27 November 2011

Photos by Noel Buckley

The Zombies, photo by Noel Buckley

Not so much an unexpected triumph as a fun filled celebration of The Zombies 50 year musical heritage, this sell out return to the band's home town of St Albans was everything the occasion demanded.

Aside from the good humour, the in between song anecdotes and the appearance of the extant original members Chris White and Hugh Grundy, the Zombies reminded us of just why they are held in such high esteem half a century after tentatively making their professional debut.

And as Rod Argent reminded us several times during the course of the evening tonight was all about linkages from the past, present and future.

The band played two sets of career highlights interspersed with Colin Blunstone's solo material and Rod's anthemic Argent rockers, as well as some of the songs referenced by such contemporary artist as Paul Weller, The Foo Fighters and The Vaccines.

The other central pillar in the Zombies edifice is the attention to musical detail as a succession of strong melodies were given a broader brush stroke by rich backing vocals ranging from pristine harmony singing to intuitive 'ooh and aah's'.

The Zombies, photo by Noel Buckley

But the Zombies are primarily all about the songs and Colin's unique voice that brings many of them to life. Rod Argent and Chris White between them have written some of the great songs of our time, including 'She's Not There', 'Time Of The Season' and 'Hold Your Head Up', all of which were given an airing tonight.

And then there's Colin Blunstone with his ethereal, timeless voice as he dipped into his solo career to engage the crowd in some 'call and response' singing on a cover of 'What Becomes of the Broken Hearted'.

He also sang beautifully on Chris White's 'Andorra' - complete with a humorous introduction about the song's author who wandered on stage with a smile and a pint in hand.

Colin similarly impressed on his melodic 'Any Other Way' on which Tom Twoomey added lovely acoustic guitar. The band collectively added intermeshing vocals on the voice and piano led 'Rose For Emily', while Colin's rousing version of Denny Laine's 'Say You Don't Mind' had the crowd taking a collective intake of breathe before he hit the top note on the outro.

The real joy was the way the band managed to integrate old songs with the material from the excellent current CD 'Breathe Out, Breathe In' to weave a carefully textured musical quilt, as both sets flowed seamlessly.

You almost had to pinch yourself to realise that the opening brace of songs 'Sticks & Stones' and Chris White's 'I Love You' came from 1965, particularly as the newer material was carried by the very same melodic qualities that anchor the expiatory vocals of 'Breathe out, Breathe In' and the celebratory feel of 'A Moment in Time'.

The Zombies, photo by Noel Buckley

Rod took over the lead vocals on the powerful 'Show Me The Way', another new song that made great use of a contrasting dynamic between the opening cool bv's and his own brusque vocal. 'Time of the Season' was inevitably another high point with Colin's breathy vocal and Rod's dancing notes leading the band into ascending 4 part harmonies before Rod added a definitive proggy organ solo.

It also provided another moment in the set when the past collided with the present, on the Beatles influenced, riff driven 'Play It For Real'. And as the band brought the exploration of their catalogue full circle, they climaxed the show as an octet featuring both drummers with added bv's from Viv White on 'She's Not There'.

They finally achieved a sense of closure with a wonderful version of the standard 'Summertime' from their 1965 'Begin Here' debut album. Half way through the song time appeared to stand still as everyone in the hall sang along on a perfect example of enduring Heritage Rock spanning generations.

Review by Pete Feenstra

Photos by Noel Buckley

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