Trends come and go quickly in music. Something can be hot one day and out the next, while some things take hold and never let go. The latter can be sincerely said of The Zombies enduring jazz-infused psychedelia, especially their handful of American hits and acclaimed album Odessey and Oracle. Although never achieving the enormous success of other 60’s British contemporaries, their unique sound and melodies have earned them a place among the greats on many “best of” lists and continues to infect new generations of music lovers as well. In the last few years, core members Rod Argent (organ, keys, vocals) and Colin Blunstone (lead vocals) reunited and began touring and recording again. With some teamwork and flexibility on the part of the artists, KEXP was able to book the full touring band for the opening set at Mellow Johnny’s Bike Shop on our final day of broadcast from South By Southwest.
The Zombies wasted no time reprising their hits to the delight of the crowd, starting off with “Tell Her No” punctuated by smooth, silky keyboards and pinpoint vocals. Blunstone seems to have retained practically every note in his impressive vocal range, and still sounds clarion clear. The three and four part harmonies were deftly delivered, perhaps the most nostalgic part of their sound these days, and the band’s musicianship was highly professional. The audience was inspired to add their parts to the harmonies as well, and their attention did not wane when The Zombies introduced newer material too. But the peak of the show was undoubtedly the finale as they churned through three well known songs, The Zombie’s “Time of the Season,” spin-off band Argent‘s hit “Hold Your Head Up,” and closing with their biggest hit of all “She’s Not There.” Judging by the response, the fans were not disappointed by this trip down memory lane as this influential band still has relevance today and obviously generations to come.