The Zombies leave mid-afternoon Summerfest sets behind, dazzle Pabst Theater
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For a band whose music has become a benchmark in the evolution of popular music, 1960’s British legends The Zombies still unfortunately remain one of classic rock’s best-kept secrets. Though on Wednesday night at the Pabst Theater, it was difficult to tell. Fronted by founding members Colin Blunstone and Rod Argent, the quintet delighted an ecstatic crowd with a set of songs from nearly every stage of its more than 50-year-long career. Though Argent and Blunstone broke up shortly after releasing the now legendary Odyssey And Oracle LP in 1968, they reunited in 1999 under the Zombies name and have been gaining considerable new momentum and a larger fan base ever since. As Argent joked between songs, the band is selling more records now than it ever had in the ’60s.
As they opened with a short set of early recorded songs and a few tracks off their fantastic 2011 album, Breathe Out, Breathe In, The Zombies quickly demonstrated that the longevity of their career has only strengthened their abilities as musicians and songwriters. While the instrumental playing from all members of the band was phenomenal—particularly from bassist Jim Rodford of The Kinks and the organ acrobatics of Rod Argent—most impressive was the singing of Colin Blunstone. Within 10 seconds of the first song, there were audible gasps in the audience at the undeniable quality and strength of his voice as it echoed through the Pabst.
Midway through the set, the band launched into a miniature suite of songs from Odyssey And Oracle that opened with the haunting ballad “Not A Rose For Emily.” Other highlights included album opener, “Care Of Cell 44,” “This Will Be Our Year,” “I Want Her She Wants Me,” and of course the classic “Time Of the Season.” Seeing these iconic and influential songs performed in such an incredible theater made the performance especially memorable, and judging from the band’s on-stage demeanor, it was easy to tell how much they enjoyed playing them.
As was evident on Wednesday, it’s clear that despite their age, The Zombies have no plans of slowing down anytime soon. Argent and Blunstone enthusiastically informed the crowd that they are currently writing songs for another new album, and seem to only be building up steam with a steady tour schedule and recording dates. As a band that is criminally relegated to playing mid-afternoon Summerfest slots and community picnics these days, The Zombies truly dazzled a crowd in a theater as iconic and legendary as they are.