Photos by Kurt E. Johnson, http://www.photoskejohnson.smugmug.com/
One of the iconic bands from the 1960s British Invasion, the Zombies, rocked a packed house Aug. 23 at Harrah’s Lake Tahoe South Shore Room. The group, which last year was nominated for the Rock and Roll Hall of Fame, thrilled the crowd with a combination of old classics, new songs and less well-known ballads from years past.
“When we got back together, there were many songs we had forgotten,” said original vocalist Colin Blunstone, whose sultry voice hasn’t diminished with his many years performing. “What is especially difficult is when you don’t remember the words to those old songs.”
The band began the set with several classics from their original album, “Begin Here,” that was released in 1965 including “Can’t Nobody Love You.” Showing the influence these British rockers had on early rock and roll, the band played a familiar song, “I Want You Back Again” covered by Tom Petty.
“If it’s good enough for Tom Petty, it’s good enough for us,” joked Blunstone, who continually had the audience laughing with his self-deprecating humor.
Celebrating 50 years since they originally recorded, the group took the audience back in time through a variety of ’60s memories from its second album, “The Zombies.” Original member and keyboardist Rod Argent dazzled the crowd with his unique and recognizable style on the organ.
When the band broke into its classic hit “Time of the Season,” the raucous crowd, was on its feet re-living the days of flower-power and free love. This worldwide smash hit, from its “Odessy and Oracle” album grew as years passed.
“The album didn’t sell well originally,” explained Blunstone, “Younger artists recognized it 12 years later, and started buying it. The album sells more now than when it originally came out.” The album is ranked No. 100 in Rolling Stone’s “Greatest 500 Albums of All-Time.”
From that same album, released in 1968, the group sang “I Want Her, She Wants Me,” and “This Will Be Our Year,” recently covered by the Foo Fighters.
The group was appreciative to be still performing and pleasing audiences. “Seeing all the pictures of those who have performed here walking up to the stage, we are humbled to be here,” Blunstone said. “They offered us oxygen because of the walk in this altitude.”
“I think they offered us oxygen because of our age,” added Argent, getting a laugh from the crowd.
Showing they haven’t lost their touch, the members performed a new song, “Moving On” a soulful, bluesy number featuring guitarist Tom Toomey lightening quick riffs. “We find it important to stay fresh,” said Blunstone. “We want to touch a new generation.”
In 1969 Argent, and current bassist John Rodford, who also spent 17 years with the Kinks, broke off from the Zombies, and formed the band “Argent.” Showing that time has healed any hard feeling, the band blasted into Argent hit, “Hold Your Head Up,” from the “All Together Now” album, that reached No. 5 in the U.S. and sold more than 1 million copies.
When the band broke into their hit, “She’s Not There,” the crowd once again was standing, clapping and singing along to their hit from 1964 that reached No. 2 in Billboard’s Top 100, and has become a classic from the mid-60s.
The group’s encore song “God Gave Rock ‘N Roll To You,” was a hit for the group in Europe, but never popular in the U.S. until Kiss released it in 1991. “We aren’t wearing high heels and makeup for this one,” joked Blunstone, before the band ended the set with a heartfelt rendition of this recognizable ballad.
Despite its half-decade on the music scene, the band was appreciative of the enthusiastic crowd. It was a pleasure to view musicians who showed such a passion for their craft as the Zombies portrayed in their Lake Tahoe show.