The Zombies - Live at the Bloomsbury Theatre, London - CD CoverThe Zombies - Live at the Bloomsbury Theatre, London - DVD Cover

The Zombies
Live at the Bloomsbury Theatre, London


First Appeared in The Music Box, May 2007, Volume 14, #5

Written by John Metzger

Sat May 19, 2007, 05:20 AM CDT


The Zombies’ career was relatively brief, and with the exception of three singles (She’s Not There, Tell Her No, and Time of the Season), the group’s output received relatively little attention from the mainstream. History, however, has been remarkably kind to the outfit. In retrospect, Odessey and Oracle, the only full-length album that The Zombies ever managed to guide to fruition, is now considered to be an essential recording, and the band’s reunion for a single show in London in 1997 was greeted with a healthy — and much warranted — round of applause. Three years later, keyboard player Rod Argent and vocalist Colin Blunstone rekindled their working relationship. Although their studio outings (Out of the Shadows and As Far As I Can See) were terribly disappointing, their concerts further elevated the collective’s oft-neglected profile.

Recorded before a British audience in 2003, Live at the Bloomsbury Theatre, London features a healthy dose of The Zombies’ classic compositions along with a number of tracks from Argent and Blunstone’s solo canons. Throughout the endeavor, the duo is backed by longtime collaborators Keith Airey on guitar and Jim Rodford on bass. Nevertheless, the music still falters more than it should.

With the exception of Jimmy Ruffin’s What Becomes of the Broken Hearted and a luminous rendition of George Gershwin’s Summertime, the non-Zombies fare that fills Live at the Bloomsbury Theatre, London pales in comparison to Argent and Blunstone’s legendary output from the ’60s. Old & Wise is as lightweight as the Alan Parsons Project disc from which it came (Eye in the Sky), and the string-drenched solo cut I Want to Fly is as dismal as its title suggests. The blues-y soul of Mystified fares better, though it fails to leave a lasting impression, and Argent’s Hold Your Head Up simply sounds dated and tired.

The other problem plaguing Live at the Bloomsbury Theatre, London is that The Zombies was a studio band, and consequently, its songs don’t necessarily lend themselves to bold reinterpretation in a concert setting. Argent and Blunstone tried their best to bring a fresh perspective to the selections featured on the outing, but the approach that they took was to emphasize the underlying structure of their work. There was more of a jazz-y flair to Tell Her No, for example, and both This Will Be Our Year and I Love You were imbued with a shimmering R&B flavor. The beauty, however, of The Zombies’ material sprang from the manner in which the group so deftly fused so many genres together into a seamless whole. In peeling back the layers, Argent and Blunstone actually wound up concocting something less. It’s no wonder, then, that Live at the Bloomsbury Theatre, London succeeds during those moments when the duo replicated the original arrangements, such as the melancholy aura of A Rose for Emily and the cinematic beauty of Beechwood Park. Unfortunately, that also leaves the set feeling, at best, redundant. Although Live at the Bloomsbury Theatre, London is pleasant enough to make a nice concert souvenir, it hardly does The Zombies’ legacy any justice. starstar

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1 Star: Pitiful
2 Stars: Listenable
3 Stars: Respectable
4 Stars: Excellent
5 Stars: Can't Live Without It!!


Copyright © 2007 The Music Box