LIVE: The Zombies @ Empire State Plaza, 6/26/13

The Zombies (photo by Timothy Reidy)
The Zombies (photo by Timothy Reidy)

Review by Greg Haymes
Photographs by Timothy Reidy and Stanley Johnson

“The Walking Dead”…
“World War Z”…
“The Night of the Living Dead” at the Sanctuary for Independent Media on Friday…
Yes, it’s the time of the season for zombies.

So with original singer Colin Blunstone and keyboardist Rod Argent leading the charge, ’60s British Invasion hitmakers the Zombies rose from the undead to kick off the 2013 Summer At the Plaza free concert series two weeks ago.

The band broke up just prior to the release of their classic 1968 album, Odessey and Oracle, but Blunstone and Argent patched up their differences a decade ago, reuniting as the Zombies. And they sounded surprisingly strong and vital at their Albany concert.

Of course, they played the big vintage hits – the syncopated, jazz-flecked “Tell Her No,” the timeless “Time of the Season” and the show closing “She’s Not There” – and the always majestic voice of Blunstone sounded as just strong as ever; he even sang the songs in their original keys – no small feat, especially on the quiet, piano-centered ballad “A Rose for Emily” and the soaring falsetto of “Care of Cell 44,” both culled from Odessey and Oracle, an album that has attained something of a legendary status over the years.

Blunstone and Argent also dipped into their post-Zombies careers with a soul-soaked cover of Jimmy Ruffin’s “What Becomes of the Broken Hearted” and the sprawling Argent organ-jam gem “Hold Your Head Up,” respectively.

But the band – which also featured the rhythm section of bassist Jim Rodford (alum of the Kinks) and his son drummer Steve Rodford, as well as excellent but under-utilized guitarist Tom Toomey – was determined to prove that they’re no mere oldies act by showcasing a handful of tunes from their 2011 comeback album, including the Steely Dan-like title track, “Breathe Out, Breathe In.”

The concert had another family-affair element to it, as well. Et Tu Bruce, who showcased a batch of songs from their newly released debut album, Suburban Sunshine, was led by vocalist-guitarist Jamie White, the son of the Zombies’ original bassist Chris White. Led by guitarist-vocalist Johnny Salka, Local 518 faves Hard Soul kicked off the evening’s festivities at 5pm.

The Summer At the Plaza concert series continues today (Wednesday, July 10) at the Empire State Plaza in Albany with performances by Crossfire (5pm), Arc & Stones (6pm) and veteran prog-rockers Kansas, who are celebrating their 40th anniversary (7:30pm). Admission is free. UPDATE: Tonight’s concert has been moved indoors to the Empire State Plaza Convention Center due to the weather forecast.

I Love You
Can’t Nobody Love You (Solomon Burke)
Breathe Out, Breathe In
I Want You Back Again
What Becomes of the Brokenhearted (Jimmy Ruffin)
I Don’t Believe in Miracles (Colin Blunstone)
Show Me the Way
Any Other Way
A Rose for Emily
Care of Cell 44
This Will Be Our Year
I Want Her She Wants Me
Time of the Season
A Moment in Time
Tell Her No
You’ve Really Got a Hold on Me (Smokey Robinson)/Bring It on Home to Me (Sam Cooke)
Old and Wise (The Alan Parsons Project)
Hold Your Head Up (Argent)
She’s Not There
Summertime (Gershwin)

Colin Blunstone of The Zombies (photo by Stanley Johnson)
Colin Blunstone of the Zombies (photo by Stanley Johnson)
Rod Argent of The Zombies (photo by Stanley Johnson)
Rod Argent of the Zombies (photo by Stanley Johnson)
Et Tu Bruce (photo by Timothy Reidy)
Et Tu Bruce (photo by Timothy Reidy)
`Hard Soul (photo by Stanley Johnson)
Hard Soul (photo by Stanley Johnson)
  1. Ken V says

    “What Becomes of the Broken Hearted” is a Jimmy Ruffin song, not by his brother David.

  2. Greg says

    Ken V,

    Thanks for the catch. The change has been made…

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