Review & Set List: The Zombies @ The Wilbur Theater, Boston

by John Reed,

One of the most iconic albums in rock history is Odessey and Oracle from 60’s British Rock survivors The Zombies, which almost always finds its way onto most critics greatest albums of all time list.

While the band originally split around the time of the release of Odessey and Oracle and went onto other ventures (such as Argent, the creators of the classic rock staple Hold Your Head Up), in 2004, group front men Colin Blunstone and Rod Argent revived the Zombies moniker and have been a constant touring act since. Not just a live act, the group has also released a trio of new material such as 2004’s As Far As I Can See..., Breathe Out, Breathe In which dropped in 2011, and their brand new release, Still Got That Hunger. So, the band are no oldies act, but are actively still writing and recording brilliant and well-crafted new material nearly five decades into their career.

Now joined by stellar musicians bassist Jim Rodford (past member of The Kinks and Argent), his son Steve Rodford on drums, and guitarist Tom Toomey, The Zombies performed to a packed house at The Wilbur Theater in Boston of October 6, 2015.

The unique thing about the bands current jaunt is that they are performing Odessey and Oracle in its entirety, not to mention that original Zombies members Chris White and Hugh Grundy are currently on board.

The Boston show was divided into two parts, with the current lineup doing the first set. While the Zombies have been lauded for their pop music brilliance, and for incorporating jazz into their sound, the band also has an amazing soulful side. Covers of You've Really Got a Hold on Me and Bring It on Home to Me, focused on Bluestone’s eternally youthful voice, while echoing his and the groups ability to perform soul with the best of them. A chestnut from their catalog I Want You Back Again was pulled out, and Blunstone made sure to thank Tom Petty for covering and rejuvenating interest in the song, which was re-recorded for Still Got That Hunger. A couple of other songs from Hunger peppered the set, including Maybe Tomorrow, for which the band told a story of getting special permission from Paul McCartney to use a quote from The Beatles’ Yesterday for the song, and New York, a nostalgic look back at the first the band came to the Big Apple in the 60’s.

After pulling out She’s Not There, the band took a break, only to return with White and Grundy and keyboardist Darian Sahanaja, from Brian Wilson’s band, to recreate of Odessey and Oracle, for the Boston crowd. The full/reunited band set off with the record opening brass and harmony filled Care of Cell Block 44, and the result was pop perfection. Having Grundy and White onstage was beyond impassioned, as they both were in top form and tore through the recreation of one of the best recorded moments in Rock history.

White’s vocals, which were mostly uses for harmony and backing for most of the set, were great, but he really shined when he took the lead on Butcher's Tale (Western Front 1914). By the end of the album’s fitting finale Time of the Season, the crowd was in a state of psychedelic euphoria.

After a zealous applause of several minutes, the band did a reprise of She’s Not There, putting an end to a perfect night of pop nirvana.

Since White and Grundy are most likely only back for this tour, it is imperative to catch a rare chance to see the surviving members of one of Rock’s greatest quintets ever.

The Set List:

Set 1
  • I Love You (b-side of single Whenever You're Ready, 1965)
  • Can't Nobody Love You (from The Zombies, 1965)
  • I Want You Back Again (single, 1965)
  • Moving On (from Still Got the Hunger, 2015)
  • Edge of the Rainbow (from Still Got the Hunger, 2015)
  • Tell Her No (from The Zombies, 1965)
  • You've Really Got a Hold on Me / Bring It On Home to Me (from The Zombies, 1965)
  • Maybe Tomorrow (from Still Got the Hunger, 2015)
  • New York (from Still Got the Hunger, 2015)
  • Caroline Goodbye (from Colin Blunstone's One Year, 1971)
  • Chasing the Past (from Still Got the Hunger, 2015)
  • Hold Your Head Up (from Argent's All Together Now, 1972)
  • She's Not There (from The Zombies, 1965)
Set 2 (all songs from Odessey and Oracle, 1968)
  • Care of Cell 44
  • A Rose for Emily
  • Maybe After He's Gone
  • Beechwood Park
  • Brief Candles
  • Hung Up on a Dream
  • Changes
  • I Want Her She Wants Me
  • This Will Be Our Year
  • Butcher's Tale (Western Front 1914)
  • Friends of Mine
  • Time of the Season
  • She's Not There (from The Zombies, 1965)

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