The Zombies at The Fonda Theatre

The Zombies @ The Fonda Theatre – Los Angeles, CA

Players:            Colin Blunstone – lead vocals; Rod Argent – keys, vocals; Tom Toomey – guitar, backing vocals; Søren Koch – bass, backing vocals; Steve Rodford – drums, percussion

Photos by Susan Moll

Having played for over 60 years together, classic rockers The Zombies delivered an energetic evening of rock ‘n roll nostalgia to a packed house at the Fonda Theatre for the Los Angeles stop of their “Life Is A Merry-Go-Round Tour.”  Their set included songs from their early albums and hits – including “Time of the Season,” solo and side projects that Colin Blunstone (The Alan Parsons Project) and Rod Argent (ARGENT, the band) were involved in over the years, as well as selections from their upcoming new album (their first since 2015’s Still Go That Hunger). This is their first tour since co-headlining the “Something Great From ‘68’” tour with Brian Wilson in 2019.

With an anticipatory buzz in the theatre, the Rock & Roll Hall of Fame inductees (inducted in 2019, 50 years to-the-day after “Time of the Season” hit #1 in America – only the second band after the Beatles to do so) played a solid show for over 90 minutes with regular anecdotal injections and a mashup of musical history around the makings of their various albums and work as a band over the years. “I Want You Back Again” (written by Argent) was originally a ‘B side’ track, but was brought back and put on display with great vocal harmonies and tight cutoffs (after being covered by Tom Petty). Blunstone’s vocals were incredible, with the humble, happy Brit delivering stunning falsetto lines and harmonic passages – including on “I Love You” (also a ‘B side’ single, which rocked the charts when it was covered and made popular by the band People). Blunstone also performed “Old and Wise” from his solo work on Eye In The Sky (The Alan Parsons Project).

Continuing on with stories of recording in Studio 3 at Abbey Road Studios in 1967 (1968’s Odessey and Oracle album), Argent spoke about the band’s good fortune in having had access to top-notch engineers (including Geeff Emerick, Peter Vince and Alan Parsons), one of the first 8-track machines, and the Beatles’ instruments left in the studio (including John Lennon’s mellotron, which helped to create The Zombies’ signature sound). The band’s new track, “Different Game” is an introspective ballad that includes heavy organ and guitar (with strings on the soon-to-be-released album version). The Zombies’ upcoming album has nine new songs with string accompaniment (using the string quintet from the Electric Light Orchestra).

“You Could Be My Love” included a gorgeous blend of bass, guitar, keyboard and vocal harmonies, and Blunstone demonstrated solid vocal projection in the sweet syrupy ballad. The group also played “Moving On” and “Edge Of The Rainbow” from 2015’s Still Got That Hunger, “Tell Her No” - a punchy, syncopated sing-along - and “You Really Got A Hold On Me,” which had the crowd clapping along and echoing the chorus breakdown alongside fabulous barbershop harmonies.

First formed in England by Rod Argent (keys, vocals) and Colin Blunstone (lead vocals) while still in school, the quintet went on to big hits in England and the United States (“She’s Not There,” “Tell Her No,” “Time of the Season”). The Zombies shared their story and their music and the evening was very well received by the somewhat sophisticated crowd of music fans and industry heavyweights. As a band that began at the forefront of the British invasion, The Zombies created a fun evening of rock ‘ n roll nostalgia.