The Zombies performed their classic Odessey & Oracle album for what founder Rod Argent said was to be the final time on US soil at Ponte Vedra Concert Hall, Friday.
Their original rhythm section of Hugh Grundy (drums) and Chris White (bass) joined the current Zombies line-up following a "greatest hits" set to perform the 1968 psychedelic masterpiece in its entirety. Marking the end of their 50th anniversary tour celebrating its release.
Highlights of the "hits" section featuring current bassist Jim Rodford (Argent/Kinks), drummer Steven Rodford (Jim's son) and guitarist Tom Toomey, included the Chris White penned "I Love You", their 1965 top ten smash "Tell Her No" and Argent's classic "Hold Your Head Up". Rod Argent and vocalist Colin Blunstone have gone to lengths over the last few years to impress upon audiences that when they sing along to be sure to get the words right. "It's hold your head up, woman. Not whaaa!" Colin reminded us. Blunstone's voice was in fine form and he sang many of these songs with far more power than some of his original breathless recordings.
Keyboardist/multi-instrumentalist Darian Sahanaja, and backing vocalist Viv Boucherat (White's wife, who designed the psychedelic background animation) rounded out the band for the robust instrumentation required to faithfully recreate Odessey & Oracle live. Sahanaja similarly lent his expertise to Brian Wilson's band in recreating Wilson's own aborted psychedelic excursion Smile for the live stage. Fans of this era of music that have been able finally experience these remarkable recordings live owe a tremendous debt to the unassuming Sahanaja.
Chris White's vocals absolutely elevated this performance. I'd liken it to having heard John & Paul without George, or Crosby and Nash without Stills. For me, it was the voice of Chris White that transformed the event from "whats left of the Zombies" to an "Oh, my God, I'm witnessing THE ZOMBIES" moment. There is a special magic between Blunstone, Argent and White that only the three can articulate.
White's spot-lit lead vocal, on "Butcher's Tale (Western Front 1914)", his only full lead performance from their original catalog, was chilling, and flawless. As was the haunting keyboard work of the masterful Rod Argent.
This was finally the year of Odessey & Oracle, and it took a long time to come. Thank you, Zombies.