Le National, Montreal, QC
Please allow me a little self indulgence before I get to the review. I have loved music from the 60s since I first started buying records in the mid to late 70s, The Beatles, Stones, The Who, Dylan quickly became established in my collection. Later, I got to know classics such as Pet Sounds, Forever Changes and the first Velvet Underground album. Arrogantly I thought I had pretty much everything one might need until my ex asked me if I knew Odessey and Oracle by The Zombies. She played it to me and I fell in love with the record (and with her). Peerless songwriting from Argent and White, some of the best vocals ever put to tape and glorious arrangements. We talked of having “This Will Be Our Year” as our wedding song, marveled at Care of Cell 44’s subject matter and wondered whether any song captured the transience of relationships as well as Brief Candles “Brief Candles in her mind, bright and tiny gems of memory …”.
This was about 12 years ago, we saw The Zombies touring band play in 2009 but the jewel in the crown was to see the remaining original members play this masterpiece in full which had become more and more important to me over the years. We are no longer together, but I managed to secure 3 second row tickets for us to see them with our music mad 10 yr old daughter sitting between us. The run up to the show was fraught with difficulties, Colin Blunstone got sick and the preceding 3 dates were cancelled, a late winter snow storm threatened travel arrangements and the venue for the gig was changed at (very) late notice.
The new venue was a smallish theatre set firmly in Montreal’s gay village, not far from downtown. Our tickets needed to be exchanged and I wondered if 2nd row would be honoured, when we found our seats we realised that wasn’t the case, we had been upgraded to the very front row!
And finally to the show, the first set was more or less the same touring band we had seen previously. Any concerns about the state of Blunstone’s voice disappeared within seconds as his glorious falsetto lit up the room in the opening “I Love You”, what followed were a few 60s hits, a couple of new songs (really good) and sang along to Argent’s big hit from the 70s, we were told to get the lyrics right by the man himself “Hold your head up, WOMAN …”.
After the interval, Chris White and Hugh Grundy joined together with a few others and the opening chords of Care of Cell 44 were pounded out by Rod Argent. And it was all perfect, I was almost reduced to a heap on the floor in front of them such was my heady excitement. I can only compare it with the first time I heard Pet Sounds live in full but in this case all the original writers and singers were right in front of me. The band played impeccably and Blunstone, Argent and White sang beautifully throughout with the latter completely nailing Butcher’s Tale. My daughter loved it, got glances and encouragement from the band and after several standing ovations the closing big hit was played followed by a second rendition of “She’s Not There” as an encore. I also picked up an autographed copy of the album and my daughter got a hold of Colin Blunstone’s setlist. A perfect perfect night.
Anglophones, Francophones, male, female, 10 to 60 plus.
It made me think..
This tour is billed as the last time they will do this, it may not be, but there will not be too many other opportunities for obvious reasons. Apparently they were very close to calling the tour off as Blunstone spent 2 nights in hospital just days before, the gods in the end were on our side.