Austin Psych Fest Live (Friday): The Zombies
Baroque-pop UK legends arrive road-tested and hardy
By Scott Schinder, 11:30AM, Sat. May. 3
In the decades they were absent from the scene following their breakup in 1968, the Zombies retained a powerful mystique. The original UK quintet’s autumnal, baroque-pop masterpiece Odessey and Oracle continued to gain prestige amongst a growing legion of admirers.
For those of us who can remember that period, the band’s return to action in the last dozen years – as a busy touring outfit led by singer Colin Blunstone and keyboardist/songwriter Rod Argent – still has a near-miraculous feel to it.
The Zombies who took the stage at Psych Fest on Friday evening weren’t shy, retiring cult icons, but a hardy, road-tested outfit whose delivery of the band’s vintage classics flirted with arena-rock bombast. Otherwise, they did an admirable job of conveying the sophisticated sound and intimate vibe that made the initial Zombies stand out from their British Invasion contemporaries.
Although surrounded by heavier, flashier, and younger bands, the Zombies had no trouble winning an ecstatic response from the APF crowd, much of which was a couple of decades from being born when the original group disbanded. Opening with the pleading 1965 gem “I Love You,” the band managed to pack an impressive amount of history into its truncated 40-minute set, much of which was devoted to a mini-suite of Odessey and Oracle tunes.
That included the ironically jaunty “Care of Cell 44,” reliably uplifting “This Will Be Our Year” (fresh from its recent appearance on Mad Men), and their posthumous smash, “Time of the Season,” which is probably the closest the band ever came to delivering capital “P” psychedelia.
The shortened festival performance kept the band from digging into the darker reaches of its songbook, as it normally does at full-length gigs. They didn’t even get to “Tell Her No,” one of their three vintage U.S. hits. The omission didn’t seem to bother the crowd, which greeted the band with a level of affection befitting its legend.