Live Reviews

The Zombies – Oran Mor, Glasgow: Live Review 

The Zombies cast their blissful musical spell over a smitten Glasgow audience with a magnificent set of songs old and new.

The Zombies were formed in 1961, achieving their first hit single in the UK and USA in 1964, with the pop classic She’s Not There, and producing the seminal album Odessey and Oracle, released in 1968.  The band are having a well-deserved renaissance, led by original members Rod Argent (keyboards and vocals) and Colin Blunstone (vocals), and in 2019 were inducted into the Rock and Roll Hall of Fame. 

Following the initial breakup of the band, both Rod Argent and Colin Blunstone made some incredible music in their own right. Rod Argent, in addition to a solo career, formed the successful rock band Argent, who produced such memorable rock anthems as Hold Your Head Up and God Gave Rock and Roll to You. Colin Blunstone had a very successful solo career, producing one of the best albums of the 1970s, One Year, with its incredible vocal performances.

The Zombies this year have released a critically well received new album, Different Game, which has some excellent songs and performances on it. They are currently on the Life Is A Merry-Go-Round tour, and tonight are playing the Oran Mor venue in Glasgow’s West End. The venue has hosted many iconic artists and bands and of course, the venue is sold out for tonight’s show.

Support for the show is Bruce Sudano a very gifted singer songwriter who has written songs for several well-known artists including Dolly Parton, Michael Jackson, and Donna Summer. The highlights of a well-received set are Make The World Go Away, a poignant 2023 single, delivered with a real emotional intensity, and a groove driven Coney Island Days, which quite marvellously segued into Hang on Sloopy and Twist and Shout.

The Zombies come on stage to a very appreciative audience response, as if they are close friends who are being welcomed home.  They launch into a powerful version of Moving On from the Still Got That Hunger album. What is immediately apparent is the excellent sound and musicianship of the band and Colin Blunstone’s fantastically dynamic vocals. Add in a remarkably flowing keyboards solo from Rod Argent and you have a combination which is simply electrifying.

I Want You Back Again follows, and Colin Blunstone demonstrates his stunning vocal range and magical ability to hold notes, which fully brings out the emotional theme of the song. Rod Argent’s jazz sounding keyboards solo reverberates around the venue, and the band push the intensity of the song. It gets a great response from the Glasgow audience with very loud applause.

You Could Be My Love from the new album and Tell Her No, which was a 1964 USA hit single, spotlight the musical range the band are able to deliver live. You Could Be My Love has a string quartet on the new album but here this lovely ballad has the vocals placed solely within a pared down piano and bass setting. The effect is to wonderfully bring out the beautiful melodic subtleties within Colin Blunstone’s voice. The song Tell Her No in contrast is given a spirited rhythmic rendition by the full band accompanied by gorgeous harmony vocals. 

Dropped Reeling & Stupid is one of the standout tracks on the new album. Rod Argent and Colin Blunstone trade vocals in a bluesy style performance. The drum fills and guitar licks really drive the performance, and the keyboards solo has a real swing, and is neatly followed by a unison bass and keyboards riff. The band’s wordless harmonies are the perfect foil for Colin Blunstone singing his heart out and filling the venue with his extraordinary vocals.

Care of Cell 44 is from the classic 1968 Odessey and Oracle album, which was recorded, as Rod Argent explains, at Abbey Road studios directly after The Beatles had recorded Sgt. Pepper’s Lonely Hearts Club Band. Rod Argent mischievously shares with the audience that he took the opportunity to utilise John Lennon’s mellotron at the recording sessions for the album. The live rendition is a delightfully joyous and warm performance of a great song. 

Time of the Season, a massive hit single in the USA, and also from the Odessey and Oracle album, is of course a set highlight. The breathy vocal counterpoint and handclaps are all in place, together with during the song, the band’s outstretched arms. The extended organ solo is wonderfully inventive and involving, with Rod Argent at one point using his hands in a scissors motion on the keyboard, without losing any musicality. This fabulous solo deservedly gets a big cheer. It is an absolute classic of a song, and the harmony vocals just soar above the stage. The audience literally raise the venue ceiling at the conclusion of the song and just don’t stop applauding.

Merry-Go-Round from the new album has a great rolling piano opening, and a fantastic melodic attack live, together with a very infectious chorus. Colin Blunstone’s vocal phrasing is amazing, giving the song a real edge in live performance. 

Hold Your Head Up, the anthemic Argent song, Rod Argent explains has a strong feminist theme. The band take the Glasgow audience with them completely as they raise their instruments and arms on the chorus. Rod Argent’s Hammond organ solo is one of the highlights of the evening, as it ranges through rhythm and blues, jazz, and classical (Bach), and even a phrase from Scotland The Brave. The swirling notes fly out from the stage, and it is no surprise that Rick Wakeman once described the organ solo on the recorded version as the greatest ever. 

She’s Not There, the iconic song from The Zombies debut album Begin Here, has the audience dancing, and is accompanied by a succession of fiery guitar, bass, and keyboard solos, that offer a full palette of engaging melodic phrases. The Way I Feel Inside brings the pace down a little with just Rod Argent’s piano playing and Colin Blunstone’s moving vocal deservedly centre stage.  

The band encore with their version of the Denny Laine song Say You Don’t Mind, which Colin Blunstone made his very own with the marvellous string and voice-only interpretation on his 1971 One Year album, the single release of this reaching number 15 in the UK Singles Chart. The band rock this live version up, yet it also still has the lovely tenderness that was evident in Colin Blunstone’s solo recorded version. A fitting conclusion to a great night of music by a legendary band.

As a recommendation, do seek out Different Game, the new album by The Zombies, it is a triumph of unforgettable songs, and great musical performances, that you will have on constant replay. 

You can view the celebratory official music video for Merry-Go-Round here:

You can find out more about The Zombies here: Website / Facebook / Twitter 

 tour promo picture photographs courtesy of

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