Thursday, November 17, 2011

Live Review: The Zombies/The Acoustic Strawbs @ Montgomery College, 9/16/2011

Seeing the bands that shaped the face of the first British Invasion is a rare treat indeed, and in the past I've taken such opportunities a little cavalierly. So when I noticed that The Zombies was in town, I just couldn't not go. So my dear Mama, to whom I owe much of my impeccable musical taste, and I headed up to Maryland to experience some Zombies for ourselves. And what a time we had, my darlings. What a time we had.

The night began with a rather wonderful set by The Acoustic Strawbs. I confess, my knowledge of the 60s British oeuvre didn't extend quite far enough to be aware of The Strawbs. After they had played, I rued my ignorance to that end. Water replaced what probably once was whiskey, but the trio played an empassioned set that could definitely teach the young whippersnappers a thing or two. They were spirited when launching into protest songs and melancholic when strumming sad songs. The three sounded beautiful together, which is probably one of the perks of having played as a unit for so many years. When they had finished, they were deservingly given a standing ovation. I was verily impressed with what I heard from them, friends, and if you ever run across a Strawbs record in the shops I strongly encourage you to pick it up.

And then, then it was time for The Zombies. Of the original band, only singer Colin Blunstone and keyboard maestro Rod Argent remain, but the "new" members most certainly played the part to perfection. I rarely see a band, of any age, that looks as happy up on the stage as did The Zombies. It was adorable, and refreshing, to see their joy at entertaining reflected on their faces as they played. The mix wasn't super, at times various instruments were way too loud, but it's one of those things where a less than perfect mix doesn't seem to matter. Colin's voice has perhaps lost some of that youthful bravado, and he doesn't get quite as high in the scales as he once did, but he, and the rest of the band, still sounded pretty dang amazing to me.

"You're helping us celebrate the 50th anniversary of The Zombies," Colin proclaimed with a smile early on in the set. Hard to imagine that, really, and hard to rectify that with just how good a band this still is. Even the newer songs translated well, full of a liveliness and bounding along, filling the room nicely. When the band played "This Will Be Our Year," I felt like the luckiest girl in the world, getting to hear that song in person. That feeling returned when, a bit later, the band launched into "Time Of The Season." I was thrilled to pieces to be hearing that. It's a strange and wonderful sensation, being in the same space as a band that's been influencing bands that followed for half a century. Incredible.

"Tell Her No" came towards the end of the set, and predictably, it was sensational. As forceful and lovelorn as it was many moons ago. As you might have guessed, they saved "She's Not There" for the last song of the set. It was bliss, friends. Nothing short of bliss. That would have been enough, but then they went and did an encore. Second and final in the encore was "Summertime," which according to Argent was the first song The Zombies ever recorded. It was lovely, still smooth though wisened after all these years. Impeccable.

I was speechless most of the night, I really was. Not many bands can wow me the way The Zombies did. They still know how to show a gal one hell of a good time. I'm already counting the days until they're back. Sometimes I think people forget the British Invasion wasn't all Beatles and all Stones. All you kids that don't yet love The Zombies, get a move on. You're all sorts of missing out.

m4a: Tell Her No (The Zombies from The Zombies)

[photo by Megan Petty]

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