LIVE REVIEW: The Zombies, Barbican Hall, London – June 2024

by Paul Davies

There were many good old tunes played on tonight’s setlist by the 78-year-old Colin Blunstone and Rod Argent led band at this sold-out Barbican show. Introduced to this venerable venue’s hallowed stage by a suited and booted long-time fan Paul Weller, The Zombies front loaded their two-part set with tracks from their aptly titled debut album Begin Here. The freakbeat infused It’s Alright With Me and I Want You Back Again found a buoyant Blunstone in remarkably fine voice who invited this slightly bashful sold-out venue to sing along to I Love You.

Classy keyboard flourishes from the spry Rod Argent added a shimmering sheen of musicianship. Former Beatophonics member, Soren Koch, mostly playing a solid body Guild bass through vintage Vox amps, dug deep into the sixties groove of these songs alongside drummer Steve Rodford who kept proceedings swinging like a big beat pendulum with guitarist Tom Toomey’s rhythmic punch and frantic solos tightening up the power.

Tracks from their recent charting album, Different Game, also played a major role with the title tune’s Procol Harum influenced musical motifs linking them back to their early chart-topping era. Another singalong moment on You’ve Really Got A Hold On Me presaged a gripping guest cameo by the sassy Sarah Brown on Summertime. Another new song Dropped Reeling And Stupid ended a captivating first half of this show on a vibrant note.

Following a catch your breath interval, The Hoosiers’ Irwin Sparkes kicked off a six-song run of tracks from their cherished psychedelic infused opus Odessey And Oracle with Care Of Cell 44. This evening’s principal guest Paul Weller returned to sing Beechwood Park before dashing offstage as original bassist and songwriter Chris White entered to warm applause as he performed Butcher’s Tale (Western Front 1914).

Further highlights included a delicately delivered A Rose For Emily that paved the way for a dramatic and groove some Time Of The Season with Rod Argent’s delightful organ runs reeling in the years. Argent wasn’t yet finished as he pounded out the chordal riff to his eponymous named band’s hit Hold Your Head High on which Blunstone and, at Argent’s positive insistence, the audience excelled in singing.

As the commotion died down, the long-awaited big hit song, She’s Not There, seemed to suspend time as 2024 became 1964 for an extended version of this classic track as another Begin Here waxing, The Way I Feel Inside, sent an ecstatic crowd homewards with a warm glow in their hearts and soul. Some diehard fans lingered at the stage door hoping for a final glimpse of their musical heroes as a different zombie hour approached.

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