Zombies | Star Plaza Theatre | Rock, Pop, Etc | Chicago Reader

Zombies All Ages Recommended Soundboard Image

When: Fri., Oct. 16, 8 p.m. 2015

British band the Zombies broke up several months before they released their 1968 masterpiece, Odessey & Oracle. In fact, the misspelling in the title made it onto the album cover because Terry Quirk’s artwork sat for weeks in the apartment of bassist and songwriter Chris White with nobody noticing the mistake. The group had achieved great success already, scoring massive hits with “Tell Her No” and “She’s Not There,” but the self-produced Odessey & Oracle was on another level, and to this day it’s deservedly mentioned in the same breath as Pet Sounds. Lead singer Colin Blunstone harmonizes beautifully with his bandmates’ soaring, meticulously pitched voices, and the songs, written by White or keyboardist Rod Argent, chronicle a loss of innocence as sobering as anything happening in pop at the time (“Butcher’s Tale” comments on the Vietnam war by describing the slaughter of WWI through a soldier’s eyes, and the sunny “Care of Cell 44” tells the story of a man writing to his imprisoned love). The Zombies were active during an era of remarkable sophistication in pop, but even in that context their final album stood out: all 12 songs are marvels of melodic grace, inventive arranging, and orchestral ambition, and the closing cut, “Time of the Season,” sounds as fresh today as ever. The band performed music from Odessey & Oracle for the first time upon reuniting in 1997 and again in tribute to ailing guitarist Paul Atkinson in 2004, a few months before his death. For the album’s 40th anniversary, the surviving founding members—White, Blunstone, Argent, and drummer Hugh Grundy—played it in its entirety in the UK, and this U.S. tour is the first time the four of them have done so on these shores. Given that the Zombies’ regular lineup (which doesn’t include White or Grundy) will perform for part of the show as well, I’d expect to hear some of the band’s lackluster new material too, but that’s a small price to pay for the chance to see such an immortal album played in the flesh.

Peter Margasak

Price: $35-$50

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