The Zombies, one of the original British Invasion bands, dropped by the Narrows Center Sunday, May 1 for a high-energy show on the last night of their “Life is a Merry-Go-Round” US tour.

The concert was full of musical highlights, sprinkled with stories going back to their days spent recording at Abbey Road Studios in London. The well-rehearsed band was strong throughout the set, led by founding members vocalist Colin Blunstone and keyboardist Rod Argent, with Steve Rodford on drums, session player Tom Toomey on guitar, and Søren Koch on bass.

The early part of the show featured a few songs which we’ll just call mixed-up covers. They rocked on Tom Petty’s cover of their original “I Want You Back Again,” which included a dazzling keyboard solo from Argent. Blunstone showed off his expressive vocal range on the garage rocker “I Love You,” a one-hit-wonder made famous by the 60’s band People, but written by original Zombie Chris White.

They also played several memorable tunes from their critically acclaimed 1968 masterpiece, Odyssey and Oracle, an album often compared to The Beach Boy’s Pet Sounds and The Beatles Sgt. Pepper’s Lonely Hearts Club Band. Those included really nice versions of “Care of Cell 44,” “A Rose for Emily,” and an epic take on the #1 hit “Time of the Season.”

Later in the show, Rod Argent’s rock and roll anthem “Hold Your Head Up,” featured an impressive organ solo, with the crowd singing along to every word. Certainly a show highlight! The band closed with a robust version of their first #1 hit “She’s Not There,” and a sweet-tempered duet, “The Way I Feel Inside,” with just Blunstone and Argent on stage. A solid finish to a great evening of music!

The Zombies project an authentic vibe through their words and music. The fact that they connect so well with audiences sixty years after coming together in St. Albans, UK is part of the reason why they’ve undergone a career resurgence in recent years. The other part, their songs are timeless. No doubt, having the two founding members leading the band is a major factor in their late-career success, unlike other “legacy” bands that have replaced original members. To say they sound as fresh as they did 50-plus years ago may be cliché, but in the case of The Zombies, it’s 100% accurate.

Opener Jesse Lynn Madera charmed those assembled with her soulful melodies along with her respect for the headliners. Playing solo behind the keyboards, Madera revealed some vocal range on “Revel”  and rocked a little harder on the country-twinged “Holy Water.” The Nashville-based singer-songwriter is an artist to watch; hope to see her back in these parts soon.

Check out some concert pics below from WUN photographer Rick Farrell.

Ken Abrams

Lifestyle Editor Ken Abrams writes about music and more for What'sUpNewp, Providence Monthly, SO RI, and The Bay. He DJ's "The Kingston Coffeehouse" Tuesday nights, 6-9 PM on WRIU 90.3 FM.