Zombies (Oct 14, 2015) Carnegie Library in Pittsburgh
“Pre-British Invasion” group The Zombies arrived in Pittsburgh at the Carnegie and were well received by a full house. I say “pre-Invasion” because they were 19 years old in 1964 when their first song hit the charts and they were invited to play in America as scared kids. They were too deeply imbedded in the trees to see the forest. They had no idea they were the precursors of one of the biggest paradigm changes in popular music. Touring in America when the Beatles were sweating gigs at the Cavern Club in London. In 1965, the band appeared on the first episode of NBC’s Hullabaloo.
You’ll have to spare me a little dry history at this point. The band actually formed in 1961 listening to Buddy Holly, Gene Vincent, Little Richard and Jerry Lee Lewis. They played throughout Europe, following the dues paying path also trod by the Beatles (Hamburg). They perfected a very “Beach Boys” style harmony, then hit the charts with “Odessey & Oracle”, recorded at Abbey Road Studio in 1967. (Yes, it was misspelled by the graphic artist that did the cover.)
Odessey found it’s place as a great album in 1969, a year after the band had broken up. Named number 80 on Rolling Stone’s list of the 500 greatest rock albums of all time. The seminal single, “Time of the Season” was featured in the Robin Williams, Robert DeNiro film “Awakenings (1990)
Of the original 60s group only keyboardist Rod Argent and lead vocalist Colin Blunstone remain. Argent remains a world-class keyboardist at age 70, mentioned in the same company as Keith Emerson (Emerson, Lake & Palmer), Rick Wakeman (Yes), Richard Wright (Pink Floyd) and Ray Manzarek (Doors). Argent went on in 1969 to form “Argent” (“Hold your head up”). The Zombies were nominated to the Rock & Roll Hall of Fame in 2014 but were not elected (yet). Lots of great artists are waiting for that nod (Bad Company, Deep Purple, Steppenwolf, Moody Blues)
Interesting to see those who attended the concert. A liberal supply of burned out hippies, shoulder length grey hair, wispy pony tails, clad in classic garb of the 70s. Many younger types arriving to see what the fuss of the 60s was about, covalently bonded to cell phones texting continuously. The guy next to me in the balcony was my age and a walking repository of Zombies history. We both took cell phone photos (prohibited and universally ignored) through the concert.
This was a good gig for these guys troding the nostalgia circuit, all of them over 70 years of age still packing (smaller) venues and still playing world-class music. Both Argent and Blunstone look good for their ages, trim and athletic. Both obviously color their hair. The other members of the band are appropriately grey. Following their extended rendition of “Time…..”, the entire audience gave them an extended standing ovation they very visibly appreciated. “I had an amazing balcony seat right next to the stage. At one point I leaned over the rail and caught Rod Argent’s eye giving him a thumbs up. He saw me, pointed and gave me the thumb back. Ahhhh…..life is good.