This Will Be Our Year – the Zombies reform for 40-year 'Odessey'
Review of the concert at the Shepherd's Bush Empire Sunday March 9th 2008
Forty years since the release of their ground-breaking album Odessey and Oracle, the surviving members of the Zombies reformed the band to perform it in full at three shows at London's Shepherd's Bush Empire.
On stage were Rod Argent (keyboards), Colin Blunstone (vcls), Hugh Grundy (drms) and Chris White (bass). Sadly, the fifth band member Paul Atkinson died in 2004.
The first half of the show was performed by the current touring band consisting of Colin, Rod, Keith Airey and Jim and Steve Rodford with Colin singing a trio of his solo releases, backed by a string quartet.
Al Kooper had been the producer at Columbia with the foresight to sign up the band. He attended all three concerts, coming on stage from the audience to introduce the album and tell the story of signing the Zombies to the label and how the record company nearly picked a completely unsuitable track to release as a US single. Luckily, Al put them straight and 'Time of the Season' became a massive hit.
The original sound of Odessey and Oracle was lovingly recreated, with Keith Airey taking Paul's place on guitar. The services of Darian Sahanaja of the Wondermints (Brian Wilson's backing band) were employed to add mellotron to Rod's keyboards, and some tracks were enhanced by a four-piece brass section.
Fans flew in from around the world to attend. On Sunday, we encountered a chap from Canada who had attended all three concerts and someone signing Rod Argent's guestbook said they had flown in specially from Tokyo. Many contemporary musicians have cited the album as a major influence and a number of music and show business personalities attended the concerts. Nobody could possibly have been disappointed, as the Zombies' performance was brilliant.
Rod Argent confessed only recently that the famous misspelling of Odyssey on the album sleeve had been a mistake on the part of its graphic designer (and flat-mate of Chris White) Terry Quirk and that the band had been too embarrassed at the time to point out his error.
Of the recording of 'Odessey and Oracle', the late Paul Atkinson said, "That was a fantastic summer. We had these wonderful songs, we rehearsed them all very carefully and we went into Abbey Road to record. My memory of that is the best of any of our recording sessions."
Current touring band (minus Rod)
Keith Airey, Colin, Jim and (son) Steve Rodford (drums)
Colin and Rod
Colin with strings
Go to Page 2 for more pictures
See our own photos and reviews of previous concerts here.
One of many instances of the Zombies in the Big L Fab Forty here
Both Blunstone and Argent have personal websites at www.colinblunstone.co.uk/ and www.rodargent.com which give details of their current CD releases and tour dates.
A fan site dedicated to the Zombies is here.
Video clips of the 2008 and other concerts on youtube
All photos © Chris Payne at Radio London, 2008