LIVE: The Zombies @ Riverside

The Zombies are one of the great British rock bands, but it’s always stumped me why they’re not held in quite the same reverence as other legends like The Kinks, The Yardbirds, and, yes, even The Beatles. Even so, I can’t say I wasn’t shocked, astounded really, that such a disgustingly small amount of people have turned up to see a band who genuinely deserve that massively overused moniker of ‘influential’. But I’ll save my complaints for the contemptible tastes of the modern world for another day, time see if The Zombies have still got it.

it was fucking painful, however, the next few tunes, all from O&O, sent the pain away like continuous shots of psychedelic morphine

They kick off brilliantly with early R&B B-side ‘I Love You’, easing in their aged crowd with its bopping rhythm and Colin Blunstone’s soft and sultry vocals – he may 70 years old, but it has to be said, he’s a far better singer now than he was back in the band’s prime. Also early on is ‘I Want You Back Again’, a Zombies original although tonight they’re playing a re-worked version based on a Tom Petty cover. It sounds fantastic, but, hey, I’m a 60s purist and would much rather have heard the original version.

This is the Still Got That Hunger Tour, named after the bands newest album (released in September), so it was always inevitable we were gonna hear a few new tracks. After racing through classic ’64 single ‘Tell Her No’ they finally do just that, albeit bashfully, almost as if they’re needing the crowd’s permission before going ahead. But there’s no need, the tracks honestly stand up, with ‘Moving On’ in particular giving the impression of a band full of fresh and interesting ideas.

Next up is, admittedly, what I’m here for. If you’ve never heard the album Odessey and Oracle, then I’m afraid I just feel plain sorry for you. It’s one of those records that everybody should have on their shelf (or in a backed-up file? Sorry, I’m a bit behind the times) no matter what you’re music taste is. First up is album opener ‘Care of Cell 44’, one of Dave Grohl’s favourite tracks ever apparently. I was so carried away stamping my feet and screaming ‘feeeeeeeels sooooooo good you’re coming hooooooome soooooooon!’ I completely forgot about the huge blister on the bottom of my heel. It went pop, and it was fucking painful, however, the next few tunes, all from O&O, sent the pain away like continuous shots of psychedelic morphine, from the hauntingly quiet ‘Rose for Emily’ to singalong mega-hit ‘Time of the Season’. They may have only played 5 songs from it, but the album is still clearly the best thing the band ever did.

The Zombies are one of the great British rock bands, but it’s always stumped me why they’re not held in quite the same reverence as other legends like The Kinks, The Yardbirds, and, yes, even The Beatles

After a brief lull, the gig shoots back to life toward the end with a cover of Argent’s ‘Hold Your Head Up’, which eventually degenerates into a wondrous 9-minute spacey prog vortex before inevitably ending with the untouchably good ‘She’s Not There’. A quick encore of ‘God Gave Rock ‘n’ Roll To You’ ends up coming across as a bit cheesy (Kiss covered it after all, and you just can’t get away from that) but I can forgive them for that. All in all, for a bunch of 70 year-olds who’ve toured all over the place non-stop since early September, they still know how to rock ‘n’ roll.

Jamie George

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