Sunday, July 7, 2013

The Zombies Rise Again.....In Hamden

For a group whose biggest hit (Time of The Season) was released after the original band had broken up, The Zombies are still considered one of the iconic groups of the British Invasion era, and their songs are still staples of classic rock radio. The group has toured on and off in recent years, and original members Colin Blunstone and Rod Argent are on the road this summer. On Friday July 5 the band rolled into Hamden, CT’s Meadowbrook Park as part of the town’s Free Summer Concert series. The opening act, Et Tu Bruce, showcased their guitar-based rock & roll sound with Beach Boys-like harmonies and well-written lyrics. Their album, Suburban Sunshine, is worth checking out. After their set, The Zombies took the stage, performing 21 songs, and proving they can still rock with the best of them.

The set mixed music from their most recent disc, 2011's Breathe Out, Breathe In, with classics drawn from throughout their career. One of the highlights of the evening was a mini-set of songs from their 1967 release, Odyssey & Oracle, which didn’t sell well on it’s original release, but has since gained cult status. In 2012, it was chosen by Rolling Stone as number 100 on their list of the 500 Greatest Albums of All Time. Many musicians, including Paul Weller of The Jam and Dave Grohl of Foo Fighters, cite the album & the group as a major influence. The songs included the album’s opening track “Care of Cell 44," the ballad "A Rose For Emily," and of course the classic “Time Of The Season,” which was released as a single after the original line-up’s demise.

There were some well-chosen covers, including the Motown classics, “You Really Got A Hold On Me,” and “What Becomes of The Broken-Hearted.” The group also offered a couple of performances of hits from their solo careers, including the crowd pleasing “Hold Your Head Up” from Rod’s solo group Argent, and “Old & Wise,” which Colin recorded during his stint with The Alan Parsons Project. Both Argent & Blunstone’s voices sounded fantastic, and Argent can still play a mean keyboard. The band was excellent as well: Tom Toomey played some wonderful acoustic & electric guitar; Jim Rodford played some grooving, energetic bass, and Rodfords’s son Steve played solid, kinetic drums that provided a solid backbone to the group. Bassist Rodford was a founding member of Argent with Rod, and he also played with The Kinks; Toomey has played in the Santana tribute band Jingo Santana.

Another nice part of the show was that both Rod & Colin took time between songs to talk about the band’s history, and the genesis of the songs they played.  They obviously love performing, and are genuinely proud of their music. The crowd was most enthusiastic about the hits, of course, but they were clearly enjoying the show. By the time the band launched into “She’s Not There,” (a personal favorite) they were on their feet and enjoying every note as they clapped and sang along. The encore featured “Just Out of Reach,” originally featured in the film Bunny Lake is Missing (1965), and “Summertime,” the group’s version of the Gershwin classic. All in all, a great evening of music, in a wonderful outdoor setting. The Zombies, featuring Colin Blunstone & Rod Argent, are on tour this summer. If you’re a 60’s rock fan or are partial to their music, it's well worth your while to attend one of the shows.

Here’s a link to a live performance from KEXP Radio, and to Time of The Season:, Care of Cell 44: and "Stars Fall" by the opening band, Et Tu Bruce:

Next Time: A "Starship" arrives in CT

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