Nearly 50 years after the release of the experimental pop album Odessey and Oracle, the Zombies reunited the original lineup—minus Paul Atkinson who passed away in 2004—to promote the 1968 album. Better late than never. Lead singer Colin Blunstone and keyboardist Rod Argent have been touring as the Zombies for the past decade, now original bassist Chris White and drummer Hugh Grundy came along to perform the album. But the Zombies brought more with this tour; On October 9, the band released a new album, Still Got That Hunger. The album is full of loves songs, heavier and grittier—proving they can still rock after all of these years.
The Kent Stage was just the right venue for the Zombies to play in Ohio. With its vintage setting and intimacy, the band connected with the audience on more than one level. The show was split into two sets. The first focused on ’60s Zombies hits, as well as songs of Rod Argent and Colin Blunstone’s careers. The band included Jim Rodford on bass (the Kinks, Argent), Steve Rodford on drums and Tom Toomey on guitar. All of their characteristics made a magical blend to have the original Zombies sound with more intensity. The second half of the show brought out Chris White and Hugh Grundy to perform Odessey and Oracle in its entirety.
The first song “I Love You,” a Zombies classic, made the crowd roar, as we heard Blunstone’s vocals stronger than ever. Favorites like “Tell Her No,” “She’s Not There,” along with songs from the new album like “Moving On” and “Edge of the Rainbow” were played. Rod Argent, one of my favorite keyboardists, laid it down when performing Argent’s “Hold You Head High.” That keyboard solo will forever go down in history as one of the greatest. I have fond memories of traveling to Germany while listening to that song. Argent even mentioned that the lyrics are “Hold your head up, woman,” not “Hold your head up, woah” like most people sing. I always thought they were saying “boy,” so I guess I learned something new. Argent and Blunstone had energetic, intriguing commentary throughout the first set, but the second set would be music without any interruptions.
After a 20-minute intermission, the original members were introduced and walked on to the stage. The first song was “Care of Cell 44.” It was surreal to see this iconic album played right before my eyes. A highlight of the show was to hear Chris White sing, especially on “Butcher’s Tale (Western Front 1914),” an eerie song based on events during World War I. Argent accompanied White, playing an organ that was played on the battlefield during WWI. White got a standing ovation, and the journey continued. The last track would be one of the Zombies’ biggest hits, “Time of the Season.” Couples danced in the aisles, people sang along. As an encore, “She’s Not There” was played with every member, new and old. The band left a magical impression on the audience, leaving them wanting more. People raved as the lights went on and the theater emptied.
And I must mention, the audience was full of some special guests that night. Jimmie Fox of the James Gang, Graham Nash, and the creator of Odessey and Oracle’s cover, Terry Quirk, were all in attendance. I was lucky enough to meet Graham Nash right before the show started. He was in Cleveland promoting his new exhibition at the Rock and Roll Hall of Fame. He met with the Zombies that day at the museum and brought along some people to the show, including a friend of my sister’s, which is how we met.
During intermission, we were invited outside to talk more with Graham. I was talking to Graham Nash in the town where I spent the last four years of my life, where events that took place on May 4, 1970, changed the world and the song “Ohio” was CSN&Y was written about. I was so taken back. A worker brought him and his friend a towel and a rain poncho. “Is that Stephen Stills’ poncho from Woodstock?” he said. Graham was cracking jokes, man. My time was running out before the second half would begin, so I thanked him for the picture (I think?) and we said our goodbyes. I saw the Zombies play an amazing show and met Graham Nash all in one night. Talk about a two-for-one deal.