Upon induction into the Rock and Roll Hall of Fame earlier this year, keyboardist Rod Argent of The Zombies recalled hearing “Hound Dog” by Elvis Presley at the age of 11. “For the next year or so, I just sought out the rawest rock ‘n’ roll I could find: I was totally transfixed by American rock ‘n’ roll; it seemed to represent a world and a culture that was not only magical, but so far removed from our ’50s England that whatever I did, I could never dream of any of us ever being anywhere near it.”
Inspired by Elvis, Miles Davis, and The Beatles, The Zombies recorded two remarkable albums in the ’60s then disbanded. But much like their heroes, The Zombies discovered the public would not forget them, and an initial regrouping in the early ’00s led to a full-blown reunion and The Zombies receiving their due with the Rock Hall in New York in March. Still on a career high from that experience, Rod and vocalist Colin Blunstone took their current Zombies show on the road and appeared at the Robert E. Parilla Performing Arts Center in Rockville, Maryland, recently.
To see Rod and Colin in action is to behold not only masterful skill but pure joy on stage. An audience can see Rod’s incredible musical prowess on stage as he scans the environment around him and then as he becomes lost in the frenzy of keys for songs by The Zombies or his follow-up band Argent. As lead vocalist on many tunes by The Zombies, Colin wields a voice that transcends that transcends time and space. The listener is instantly transported to wherever it is that Colin chooses to send him or her.
On Sept. 29, The Zombies performed four selections from Odessey and Oracle, including “Time of The Season,” and three from “Begin Here,” including “She’s Not There” at Montgomery College’s Parilla PAC.
They also reached across their respective careers to play a few songs by Argent — “Hold Your Head Up” and “God Gave Rock and Roll to You,” which closed the show — and a moving rendition of “Old and Wise,” to which Colin contributed vocals for The Alan Parsons Project.
Stream Odessey & Oracle by The Zombies on Spotify:
Jim Rodford, who famously played in The Kinks for roughly 20 years and the reunited Zombies in the 21st Century, sadly passed away in January, but his cousin Rod still carried his spirit with him. Steve Rodford, Jim’s son, serves The Zombies’ drummer since their reunion in 2014.
With talent such as Rod, Colin, Steve, guitarist Tom Toomey, and bassist Soren Koch on hand, The Zombies could still viably tour for quite a few more years, welcoming appearances by guest Chris White, who contributed many of their most memorable songs, and others.
Here are some pictures of The Zombies performing at the Robert E. Parilla Performing Arts Center on Sept. 29, 2019. All photos copyright and courtesy of Jason Nicholson.