The Zombies w/ Et Tu Bruce @ The Pabst Theater
Sept. 25, 2013
relegated to small venues and county fair-type events, 1960s British pop band The
Zombies reunited—or, more to the point, returned—after a lengthy dormancy.
Despite the almost universal acclaim achieved by their 1968 album Odessey and Oracle, The Zombies in their
original incarnation broke up that same year, and remained either inactive or
sporadically reunited until a more solidified lineup appeared in 2001. In the
past 10 years, they’ve only gained steam, touring, playing South by Southwest,
and releasing an album of all new material in 2011. Instead of seeming entirely
like a reunion, it feels more apt to say that The Zombies are picking up where
they left off, delighted to find that audiences around the world are still
It is with this resurrection pedigree that The Zombies come to Milwaukee—and not, for once, for an outdoor show, but for a show at a theater with a legacy as rich as their own. Bringing with them openers Et Tu Bruce, The Zombies offered their audience at The Pabst Theater all the best (and then some) from their decades of pop songwriting.
Et Tu Bruce led off the night with their affable, if slightly bland take on pop-rock song craft. Noteworthy for their excellent harmonies, and highly evolved melodic tendencies reminiscent of Belle & Sebastian and Oasis, the songs didn’t seem to land with any real power. Nevertheless, they made sense as an opener for The Zombies, if for no other reason than that both bands share an affinity for stage banter.
The theater filled slowly as Et Tu Bruce finished their set, but by the time The Zombies took the stage, an eager crowd awaited them. Beginning with a mix of their classic early ’60s work and new songs from their 2011 album Breathe In, Breathe Out, The Zombies seemed to be, well, showing off. Colin Blunstone’s voice, a significant part of The Zombies sound, remains essentially unchanged, and, if anything, sounds better, while Rod Argent is still an intensely gifted keyboardist whose work is relatively unmatched.
Halfway through their set the group played five songs from Odessey and Oracle, ending with their biggest hit, and, arguably, the centerpiece of their live show, “Time of the Season.” Rod Argent was utterly committed to the classic song, and when not shredding absurdly complex keyboard solos, spent the song encouraging the crowd to sing along.
Throughout the night, it was impossible not to notice how utterly delighted The Zombies seem to be playing music again, Argent made continual asides about how well loved Odessey and Oracle is, and while this may have read as boasting with any other group, with Argent and The Zombies, it’s charming, and a reminder that, like the first track from Odessey and Oracle, “Care of Cell 44,” says, it is “good to have you back again.”