The Zombies

The Zombies - Photography by ALEX LAKE insta @twoshortdays WWW.TWOSHORTDAYS.COM

The Zombies @ Birmingham Town Hall, 28 May 2024

If you want to see how inconsistent the music business is when it comes to recognition of genius,
look no further than The Zombies. Even after recording a perfect album in 1967 (Odessey and
Oracle, released in 1968), which is equal to if not better than classic albums released in that year; for
example ‘Ogdens’ Nut Gone Flake’, or ‘A Saucerful of Secrets’ it was not given enough support on its
release and consequently was unsuccessful, leading to the band breaking up soon after. It is
reminiscent of ‘The Kinks Are the Village Green Preservation Society’, which also bombed at the time
due to lack of promotion and only became recognised much later as a bona fide classic.

When you listen to ‘Time of the Season’ now, it is almost inconceivable it was never a hit in the UK in
1968. It is then a miracle that 60 years later The Zombies are still writing new material and touring. It is
true that only two of the original five are in the line up, but they are Rod Argent and Colin Blunstone,
so you could argue they are the sound and voice of the group anyway. The new members of the
band taking over backing vocals, bass, drums and guitar duties, fit perfectly into the Zombies sound,
from the debut to the latest album ‘Different Game’ released last year.

The set is a crowd-pleasing mixture from The Zombies’ career and the band easily move from the
exquisite baroque pop of ‘A Rose for Emily’ to the jazz flavoured ‘Summertime’ to rockier tracks like
the new song ‘Dropped Reeling & Stupid’.

The audience remain seated and reserved for much of the set until the band plays four songs from
‘Odessey and Oracle’. After ‘Time of the Season’ with its extended Hammond organ solo by Argent,
the Town Hall’s collective mind is blown and there is a standing ovation. Argent who is 78 provides a
masterclass in how to play a keyboard solo and his hands are a blur as they fly up and down the

Blunstone too is still in spectacular voice, reaching those trouser splitting high notes with sensitivity
and control and with that unique vulnerable haunting quality that I first heard in 1982 on the Alan
Parson’s track ‘Old and Wise’ – which made me then backtrack to find out what else he had done
and found a goldmine.

Special mention must also be made for Søren Koch who respectfully recreates Chris White’s
beautifully melodic bass lines and provides excellent backing vocals.
A second standing ovation follows the 60 year old hit ‘She’s Not There’, with its extended
instrumental section, where all the musicians have a solo, including a medley of the greatest guitar
riffs from Søren. Argent and Blunstone still manage to steal the show with inventive keyboard lines
and a breathtaking, ball-busting final note from the singer. It is a phenomenal song and blinding

To end the night, the two original Zombies perform the Argent-penned ‘The Way I Feel Inside’ from
the debut album; just piano and voice. It is breathtakingly beautiful and reinforces the reason why
The Zombies’ music has endured for 60 years, even when for a lot of that time it had an
underground following.

Their legacy, apart from the artistry of their albums, is in the music of the artists that found them
and were inspired to make their own music: you only have to hear Chris White’s ‘This Will Be Our
Year’ to see where the late, great Elliott Smith found his mojo; he also used to sing ‘Care of Cell 44’ as part of his live sets.

And of course The Jam’s ‘English Rose’ is bristling with a Zombies feeling, Weller being a big supporter of the band for a long time. It is pretty clear from this tour that The Zombies are not dead or undead, but positively overflowing with life.

It’s Alright With Me
I Want You Back Again
Sticks and Stones
I Love You
Different Game
You Could Be My Love
Tell Her No
You’ve Really Got a Hold on Me / Bring It On Home to Me
Dropped Reeling & Stupid
Care of Cell 44
This Will Be Our Year
A Rose for Emily
Time of the Season
Hold Your Head Up
She’s Not There
The Way I Feel Inside

Review: Alan Neilson

Photograph by Alex Lake courtesy of Hush PR

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