Being a huge fan of AMC’s The Walking Dead, I’m really going to try and refrain from making cheap jokes like “The Zombies Invaded Lorain last night!”
Even if they’re easy and all too true.
But, yes, the seminal British invasion group The Zombies indeed came to Lorain last night and played a fantastic two-part show in the beautifully-restored ancient movie theater, the Lorain Palace.
Touring in celebration of their 1967 release Odessey and Oracle, the show was broken up into two distinct sets: The current lineup of the band played a number of the band’s songs from throughout the years and then original drummer Hugh Grundy and original bassist Chris White came out after a brief intermission and the collected eight-person ensemble played Odessey and Oracle in its entirety.
How rare is it to see a legendary band in its entirety? ZZ Top is one of the few outfits to remain together from the band’s inception. So is Aerosmith. But generally, egos, disinterest, or other issues divide a band and the original members never have an opportunity to gear up and play for an audience again. (I’m really looking forward to seeing ELO this weekend at the Rock Hall inductions; I hope they sound as good as they did back in the late ’70s.)
Original Zombies guitarist Paul Atkinson passed away in 2004. His replacement, Tom Toomey, makes for a great doppelganger. When the band first took the stage, the 800 or so attendees in the crowd howled with approval. Keyboardist/band founder Rod Argent got a standing ovation before he even had a chance to take a seat at his keys. Lead vocalist Colin Blunstone received the same greeting. All smiles, Blunstone took to the mic and the evening started.
Zombies hit “Tell Her No,” an early-set offering, was enthusiastically received by the audience. When the band lit into a raucous twelve-minute version of Argent’s “Hold Your Head Up” the band was firing on all cylinders. Prior to leaving the stage, Argent and Blunstone offered a very intimate duet of “The Way I Feel Inside.”
After a brief intermission, the band returned to the stage with original members Hugh Grundy on the kit and Chris White on bass. Blunstone’s creamy tenor still packs a punch. Although in his early seventies, his voice is still very strong.
Interestingly, “She’s Not There” was played twice last night. It was the second-to-last offering in the first set and then reprised as the night’s closing song. Argent gave a brief intro of each band member and then said that the closing number was being recreated note-for-note as it originally appeared on the album. Bassist Chris White’s wife Vivian Boucherat was brought out to handle some of the 1967 album over-dubs in a higher register than the septuagenarian musicians can handle, creating a sonically-xeroxed match from the album.
Playing an album in its entirety can be a chore if the band’s not up to snuff. Some of the lesser known cuts may become a quick run to the bathroom for certain audience members; last night’s crowd was glued to their collective seats. As I scanned the crowd in dutiful-reporter mode, I noticed that the audience’s eyes were planted on the action in front of them. As the show wrapped up and “Time of the Season” was offered, there seemed to be a palpable catharsis running through the ancient theater. The crowd knew that they had just witnessed something rare: An assembly of legendary musicians coming together to give them something so unique, so rare that only comes through Northeast Ohio once in a great while.
I can’t admit that it was supernatural. But there were zombies involved so, yeah, maybe it was.