Rod Argent & Colin Blunstone
Thursday 21st March 2019
There are those rare instances when you eagerly anticipate going to a gig and your high expectations are not only matched but exceeded. Needless to say, this equally rare acoustic excursion by Rod Argent and Colin Blunstone, a few days ahead of the Zombies being inducted into the Rock and Roll Hall of Fame, was one of those occasions. The Boisdale is a pretty smart venue in the heart of Canary Wharf, offering a full dining experience ahead of a musical dessert. Despite the frenetic toing and froing of the army of waiting staff the ambience of the venue is pretty laid back and a pleasant change from some of the grungy, darkly lit caverns normally encountered in London.
Without any great fanfare the seasoned duo came onto the small stage and begin proceedings with ‘Breathe Out, Breathe in’ a song from the 2011 album of the same name. This, like all the songs that followed was an immediately likeable, catchy, melodic tune that didn’t overstay its welcome, hit all the right spots and set up the next number. This also demonstrated the continued high quality of the Zombies song writing output, in that all the numbers played had a timeless quality and were uniformly excellent, regardless of whether they came from the distant past (their induction will coincide with the 50th anniversary to the day of ‘Time of the Season’ reaching No.1 in the States - you can bet your bottom dollar they’ll be playing that at the ceremony in New York) or from their more recent output following their reuniting, like 2015’s ‘Still Got That Hunger’.
Colin Blunstone’s voice is still in remarkably fine fettle and there was no shirking of the high notes with all the songs seemingly remaining in their original keys. Rod Argent’s piano playing has a distinctively Jazzy feel to it without being unnecessarily flashy (which did not prevent him later in the set from showing off his chops with a solo piece that allowed him full reign to tinkle the ivories and illustrate what a fine player he is). Most songs were prefaced in this relaxed, charming performance with an introduction by one or the other of the two; ‘I Want You Back Again’ was described as being revived after they heard (the late great) Tom Petty, who covered it, describe it as one of his favourite songs. It is a fabulous song. A story about touring America back in the sixties as part of Dick Clark’s Caravan of Stars and meeting Little Anthony & the Imperials led into a version of their hit ‘Going Out of My Head’.
‘Moving On’ and ‘Edge of the Rainbow’ from their last album waved the flag again for their undiminished song writing skills, the latter sounding like you’ve been listening to it all your life. Two of Colin’s solo hits from the 70’s kept the momentum going, the gorgeous ‘Say You Don’t Mind’ (a personal favourite) and ‘I Don’t Believe in Miracles’. There were cries of disappointment from the audience as they announced that the duo would only be playing four numbers from their classic (misspelt) album ‘Odessey and Oracle’ following a description of it being Paul Weller’s favourite album. ‘Care of Cell 44’, ‘A Rose for Emily’, ‘This Will Be Our Year’ and ‘Time of The Season’ were rattled off in quick succession, as some in the audience no doubt became misty eyed at hearing these ultra-melodic gems from the past. There were more good natured stories and other songs, including of course ‘She’s Not There’, all of which left the feeling that this was one of those special occasions when it was a real privilege as well as a total pleasure to share the experience of listening to two such talented and likeable musicians, displaying all the skills gained over a life-time of performing.
Simon Green (photos courtesy of Simon Green)