On a beautiful late summer night in downtown Ojai, The Zombies took to the Libbey Bowl stage and proved to the fans that it was, indeed, the time of the season. Starting off with the classic 1965 song “I Love You,” written by The Zombies’ early bassist Chris White and featuring a chorus and verse which are inverted, this pathos-inducing song chronicles the frustrations of a young man who can’t bring himself to tell the one he loves how he feels. Then the band covered Phillip Mitchell’s R&B standard “Can’t Nobody Love You,” which appeared on its 1965 debut album, Begin Here. Rod Argent’s awesome “I Want You Back Again” was up next — originally a 1965 single, the band elected to re-record it on its latest album, Still Got That Hunger, upon hearing Tom Petty’s groovy cover version. This was followed by a convincing version of “Going Out Of My Head” — originally a number 6 Billboard hit for Little Anthony & The Imperials in 1965. The band continued by focusing on two tracks off of the new album, “Moving On,” and “Edge of the Rainbow,” which showed that Argent’s songwriting chops and keyboard playing are still top-notch, and Colin Blunstone can still sing brilliantly and hit the high notes.
Colin then gave a brief speech about how after The Zombies originally broke up in December 1967, Rod, and Jim Rodford (Rod’s cousin who joined him in his post-Zombies band, Argent, in 1969, before later becoming The Kinks’ bassist in 1978), played with Blunstone on his early solo albums. Then the boys launched into Russ Ballard’s beautiful ballad “I Don’t Believe In Miracles,” which Colin had originally hauntingly sung on his second solo album, 1972’s Ennismore.
Following that, Argent introduced the Odessey and Oracle segment of the show, mentioning how Paul Weller (of The Jam and Style Council fame) and Dave Grohl (Nirvana, Foo Fighters) both champion the 1968 psychedelic classic album to this day. The four gems revealed were: “Care of Cell 44,” (Argent’s ode to a person writing a letter to their partner who is awaiting release from prison) — with its wonderfully upbeat Beach Boys-esque harmonies; White’s triumphant “This Will Be Our Year;” “I Want Her, She Wants Me” — on which Rod sang lead vocals; and The Zombies’ universally known and loved number, “Time of the Season” — which got some of the audience joyously dancing up front in the pit.
The band played on, covering Titus Turner’s “Sticks and Stones,” and doing a killer rendition of Smokey Robinson’s thrilling “You’ve Really Got a Hold On Me,” on either side of its second hit single, “Tell Her No,” all of which were featured on The Zombies’ debut album. After that, ace new tune “Maybe Tomorrow” was unleashed, replete with its Beatles’ coda and Rod’s tasty keyboard riffs. Colin then introduced the heartbreaker classic “Caroline Goodbye” (from his 1971 One Year solo album) with the anecdote that the song was written for his ex-girlfriend the gorgeous Caroline Munro, the model/actress who became a Bond Girl in 1977’s The Spy Who Loved Me. This melancholic yet melodic song allowed for a deft guitar solo by the talented Tom Toomey. After playing yet another new tune, “Still Got That Hunger,” White’s trippy 1972 contribution to Argent (the band), the anthemic “Hold Your Head Up” was brought to life as an extended jam, on which Rod wowed the crowd with his expansive keyboard solo before drummer Steve Rodford (Jim’s son) built the beat to a thunderous crescendo. Rod mentioned that the song was written to show solidarity with Feminism and encouraged the audience to sing along, eliciting cheers from the crowd with the lyrics: “And if they stare/Just let them burn their eyes/On you moving.”
The encore (before which Rod stated how pleased the band was to play at the beautiful Libbey Bowl for the first time) featured the first hit song that initially broke The Zombies in the States, the timeless “She’s Not There.” Finally, the group delved back into post-Zombies territory one last time, with the feel-good Argent (the band) 1973 hit single “God Gave Rock And Roll To You,” which got the crowd clapping and singing along. The time of the season came and went too quickly, but the ecstatic audience definitely showed its love for The Zombies’ undying music.