REVIEW: The Zombies, Riverside, Newcastle

The Zombies rolled back the years at the Riverside in Newcastle.
The Zombies rolled back the years at the Riverside in Newcastle.

Opportunities to see '60s pop legends don't come around often in 2015, so this visit to Riverside provided fans of The Zombies with a rare festive treat.

I'll be honest; before tonight's show was announced, I didn't even know that Rod Argent, Colin Blunstone and company were still active.

And who can blame me? Formed in St Albans in 1962, the original band had dissolved before my parents were even out of their prams - and without ever replicating their American success on home soil.

As it turns out, the current incarnation has been doing the rounds since 2004, with the founding duo joined by drummer Steve Rodford, guitarist Tom Toomey and one-time Kinks bassist Jim Rodford.

Indeed, tonight was the last stop on a tour that's ran since September, zig-zagging across the States before visiting mainland Europe and winding down in the UK.

It's a hefty trek for a group of men in their 70s, but after more than five decades of performing, their abilities as musicians remain undimmed.

And crucially, lead singer Blunstone's voice has held up well; still capable of hitting all the right notes on early hits such as Tell Her No and She's Not There.

They were supplemented by a selection of more-than-respectable cuts from recent album Still Got That Hunger, with the likes of Moving On and New York in particular earning their place alongside such standards.

The chronological gap was filled too by a handful of Blunstone solo numbers and songs from Argent's eponymous post-Zombies band, with the latter's Hold Your Head Up and God Gave Rock and Roll to You providing two of the night's key sing-alongs.

Perhaps the centrepiece, however, came mid-set, when they delved into a suite of cuts from their most celebrated work, Odessey and Oracle.

A flop initially, the band's third studio album has since become a cult classic, drawing new generations of converts and selling more today than it did upon release in 1967.

Pensioners or not, it was a delight to hear the five-piece run through Care of Cell 44, This Will Be Our Year and Time of the Season - and, what's more, sound fantastic doing so.

It was the high point of show which struck the perfect balance; an equilibrium between retrospective classics, early hits and crowd-pleasing favourites from across their career, while freshening things up with a smattering of new cuts.

There won't be many more, but this opportunity to see The Zombies proved well worth taking.