The Zombies live at The Danforth Music Hall – Toronto, Ontario – April 2, 2017

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The Zombies brought their Odessey and Oracle 50th Anniversary Finale Tour to The Danforth Music Hall on April 2. (Photo Credit: Lee-Ann Richer)

The Zombies
The Danforth Music Hall
Toronto, Ontario
April 2, 2017

Review by Trent Richer:

It’s time for The Zombies to celebrate their 1968 second studio album, Odessey and Oracle.

Fans filled the sidewalk on both sides of the doors of The Danforth Music Hall. The primarily Baby Boomer crowd was going to be a part of Zombies history. What history?

Zombies’ album, Odessey and Oracle, released in 1968, was going to be recreated by four of five original members. The band never toured this album as they broke up four months before it was released.

Missing from the line-up was guitarist Paul Atkinson, who passed away in 2004.

The show for the evening was going to be in two parts. The first set was a mix of their hits, some newer material (off their 2015 album Still Got That Hunger) and a couple of covers thrown in for good measure.

For their second set, The Zombies were going to play, note for note, their entire album, Odessey and Oracle.

The Zombies’ show was sold out. There was a buzz in the air. In talking with a few fans before the show, you could feel their enthusiasm. They knew this was a one-time opportunity. This would be their only chance to see the ‘Odessey and Oracle 50th Anniversary Finale Tour’.

The 2 ½ hour evening started with their 1965 release, I Love You. Lead vocalist Colin Blunstone, age 71, still has the melodic and powerful voice of his youth! The magical harmonies are also still there!

The next song I Want You Back Again was their only ‘old’ song that they included on their 2015 album Still Got That Hunger. Tom Petty saw the Zombies do this song in 1965. He fell in love with it! Many years later he recorded it and played it with the Heartbreakers. Co-incidentally The Zombies were at a Tom Petty concert and saw him do their song. They said Tom did it better! The Zombies decided they would re-release it.

A few newer songs followed: Moving On and a bluesy tune, Edge of the Rainbow. Included in the set were their rock classics Tell Her No, and Time of the Season.

It was refreshing to see so many Generation Y fans at the show. Many of them were singing along during the second set (everyone was singing along during the first set!). This is a perfect illustration of the timelessness of their music.

Colin Blunstone and keyboardist Rod Argent took turns telling stories throughout the evening.

Keyboardist Rod Argent told the story of the formation of the band Argent with Zombies’ current bassist Jim Rodford (who later went on to play with the Kinks). This story was the lead in to the classic tune. Hold Your Head Up. It was written by Rod and Zombies’ original bassist, Chris White.

Rod also gave the audience a lesson in the lyrics. He said the words of the chorus are ‘Hold your head up, WOMAN’…not ‘Hold your head up, WHOA’. Judging from the laughter, many people sang it properly for the first time that night.

During Hold You Head Up Rod played an epic solo that sounded like it included influences from the likes of John Lord (Deep Purple) and Keith Emerson (ELP). In the middle of his masterpiece he included an excerpt of Jesu, Joy of Man’s Desiring (Bach). It’s astounding that a small keyboard can crank out sound like the old B3 models.

They closed the set closed with She’s Not There and then The Way I Feel with only Blunstone and Argent left on stage.

There was a brief intermission, then the highlight that fans were waiting for, began.

To many people’s surprise, original Zombies’ bassist Chris White and original Zombies’ drummer Hugh Grundy joined the stage. Argent explained because of the multi leveled key tracks and background vocals in the recording studio they needed this nine piece band to recreate it perfectly. On stage was the original four members, guitarist Tom Toomey, the opening lineup bassist Jim Rodford and opening line up drummer Steve Rodford , back up vocalist Vivienne Boucherat (bassist Chris’s wife) and Darian Sahanaja (Brian Wilson band) on keys.

An interesting note, Vivienne did all the images for the background video screen show. Interspersed during the montage were snippets of song lyrics. It was a brilliant and tasteful blend of word and image.

Vocally, they nailed it! Blunstone and Argent can still belt out those high notes without being breathy. Also, a nod to bassist Chris for his elegant lead vocals in the song: Butcher’s Tale (Western Front 1914).

The evening’s sound was also perfect! Well done to the mixing crew at The Danforth.

The Zombies are on stage fulfilling a dream. They are celebrating this 50 year anniversary in the best way possible. To bring this album to the stage; something they didn’t get to do 50 years ago. And let’s almost remember they are also writing new material. What band of their generation can say that?

In addition to the re-release of the Odessey and Oracle album, they have released ‘Odessey and Oracle’ The book. A luscious coffee table book filled with original artwork, photos, and handwritten lyrics.

Thanks to The Zombies for our chance to be part of this! Also a special thanks to Fiona Bloom and The Danforth Music Hall. You rock!

Connect with The Zombies online: Website Facebook Twitter Instagram

 

All photos by Lee-Ann Richer
©2017. Please DO NOT copy or use without permission.

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