After Fifty-One Years, the Zombies Are Still Blowing Minds

Last year, the Zombies performed at the Paramount Theatre.
Last year, the Zombies performed at the Paramount Theatre.
Tom Murphy

The aura of the free-love movement echoed throughout the Boulder Theater yesterday evening as psychedelic baby boomers gathered to watch as a band that has been playing music for over fifty years tore the house down.

The Zombies — that’s right, the Zombies — were in Boulder last night. Although all founding members did not appear in this lineup, there was still a strong array of musical talent and rock-and-roll history oozing from the stage.

Legendary Jim Rodford, formerly of ARGENT and the Kinks, held down the bass, accompanied by his son Steve on the drums, and session musician Tom Toomey filled out the rhythm section on the guitar. The two founding members, Colin Blunstone and Rod Argent, now in their seventies, can still throw down an hour-long set as if it were the first day of the British Invasion.

The band started the evening off with a song from its first U.K. album — Begin Here, from 1965 — titled “I Love You," giving gratitude to the audience after all these years of praise. Dressed all in black, the band gave off a surprisingly metal vibe throughout the set. When listening to the recordings of the Zombies, it never dawned on me how the band has influenced metal, yacht rock, Goth, industrial and so on, but in a live setting, I could hear the remnants of bands that have come after and tried to emulate their sound.

Blunstone’s voice remains impeccable. At the age of 71, he is able to sing over a tremendous vocal range and includes enormous vibrating blasts or soft, dreary emotional tones. For his part, Argent seems to have never slowed on his piano playing. He must have taken a piano solo on nearly every song, showing off one of the many elements that made the Zombies a hit band.

Throughout the evening, the Zombies covered some classics, including, “Goin’ Out of My Head”, originally sung by Little Anthony and the Imperials, Ray Charles’s “Sticks and Stones,” and Etta James's “Something’s Got a Hold on Me.” I’m not sure why many contemporary bands eschew covers as part of their regular sets, but it's one of my favorite components of the musical art form.

The Zombies played the majority of their hits, such as “She’s Not There," "Tell Her No” and “Time of the Season.” During TOTS, the crowd erupted, and every achy bone and ailment in that theater disappeared for three minutes and thirty-two seconds. One crowd member, who held a close resemblance to my middle-school science teacher, moved like a swift fifteen-year-old rave soothsayer. Holding two neon-blue glow sticks, which were given to the audience before the show, the mustachioed, chino-wearing man moved with ease through the aisle, throwing arm jabs and head shakes towards patrons.

The Zombies covered four songs from their notorious classic album Odyssey and Oracle, beginning with the opening track “Care of Cell 44," followed by “This Will Be Our Year," “I Want Her and She Wants Me" and the aforementioned “Time of the Season.”

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They ended the evening with a song from Argent's band ARGENT with “God Gave Rock and Roll to You," another crowd favorite.

Seeing the Zombies was one for my bucket list. The second U.K. band after the Beatles to score a number-one hit here in the U.S. during the '60s British Invasion still holds up to what made it so innovative fifty years ago. I can only hope to be full of so much vigor, love for music and mastery of my craft when I reach my seventies.

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