20th January 2019 Alban Arena
Homecoming shows are always special for the band and their fanbase, but The Zombie's show at St Albans Arena carries extra poignancy. A year
ago on 20th January 2018 rock music lost one of its finest bass players. The sudden and untimely passing of Jim Rodford shocked the music community, fans and all who had the grace of knowing him. Despite a career that spanned over fifty years including playing with The Kinks, Argent, The Zombies and even appearing with The Mike Cotton sound as special guests at The Beatles Christmas Show, Jim remained humble and was rock music's original nice guy (sorry Dave Grohl). With a Status bass placed stoically to the left of the stage and a cap placed lovingly on top there is no mistaking why fans and some of rock music's finest have gathered to pay their respects.
ARC, a familiar band in the St Albans area, and also comprised of Jim's
granddaughter's and son, Russell. Their folk/ country set is intimate even in the arena as they perform covers and original songs. If Anja and Cara's blood harmonies are not proof enough that talent is hereditary, their dad, Steve (Jim's other son and Zombie's drummer) joins ARC for a final song dedicated to 'Granddad and Nannie,' Waterloo Sunset.
After a moving few words from Jim's daughter, Rod Argent presents Jim's widow, Jean, with a beautiful a portrait of Jim drawn by Terry Quirk, who designed The Zombies album covers. After an emotional start Colin Blunstone reminds us that Jim would want us to 'tear this place down'. After all this is a celebration of a life in rock and roll.
Road Runner gets the party started followed by I Want You Back Again even after two songs it's evident that even after 50 years Rod Argent and
Colin Blunstone are sounding and performing better each time. With their level of musical acumen it's not hard to see why they have had such a revival since the band reformed. A selection of songs from their most recent album Still Got The Hunger, only goes to enhance their passion for the music and why they were inducted into the Rock and roll hall of fame. Rod Argent's talent as a keyboard player really shone tonight. Throwing in jazzy chords and complex flourishes, proves his mettle, but further demonstrates what a hugely skilled musician he is. Colin Blunstone's vocals have of course matured with age, but he's one of the few vocalists from the era that still has the tonality and range that he did back in his youth. Every time I see him live I'm reminded of his mastery over a melody and once again he doesn't disappoint. Performing songs from his solo career such as Old and Wise and Say You Don't Mind really shows his dexterity as a singer.
Danish bassist Soren Koch certainly has some huge shoes to fill by taking over from Jim, especially tonight. Koch manages to respectfully take up the baton of the band's bass player and enrich the music with the same energy.
Jim was of course hugely influential in the formation of the The Zombies, even if he didn't play with them until later in his own career. Three songs from the influential Odessy and Oracle: This Will Be Our Year, Care of Cell
44 and the atmospheric, Time of the Season honour the band's beginnings. After the Zombies split up Rod went on to form Argent with Jim. The classic Hold Your Head up closes the show with an incendiary mid section that really has the home crowd rocking out in a way that Jim would certainly have approved of.
A final tribute comes when original Zombies members Hugh Grundy and Chris White join the band for a version of She's Not There before Russ Ballad and Jim's family take to the stage for a rousing version of the Ballard penned Argent track, God Gave Rock and Roll To You, that really did tear the place down. A perfect tribute to gentleman Jim.