Zombies Tribute Show
at Fez, New York City,
February 14, 1998.

Review by Dave Goldsman.

My wife, our friend Jim, and I attended the Tribute to the Zombies at Fez in New York on February 14th (1998). The Tribute is part of the ongoing series of "Loser's Lounge" cover concerts dedicated to popular acts of the 60s and 70s. The series, organized by well-known producer and session man Joe McGinty, generally consists of a variety of guest artists each covering a favorite song from the featured act's repertoire. Joe and his colleagues, the Kustard Kings, provide most of the instrumentation and backing voices, and the guest artists sing the lead vocals.

What a pleasant surprise! Well worth the schlep from Atlanta. It was a wonderful show, with fantastic musicians and an enthusiastic audience. In fact, the venue was pretty crowded with young and old alike -- there were certainly no empty seats in the house.

Saturday's Zombies incarnation had three sets. The first was a complete rendition of Odessey and Oracle; the second featured Colin Blunstone songs (plus a couple Zombies singles); the third surveyed many of the best Zombies, Zombies/proto-Argent, and Argent singles. More than 2 hours of music in total. A special, taped Colin Blunstone interview was also played intermittently throughout the show.

I thought that the performances were superb. They ranged from exact note- by-note vocal and instrumental reproductions of the original arrangements to affectionate alternative interpretations. The Odessey and Oracle set in particular was remarkably true to the album. All of the selections in the set were simply excellent, yet a couple stood out for me: Perhaps because it was the first song of the night, "Care of Cell 44" performed by Jules Shear really caught everybody's attention --- you could tell that those in the audience who had never before heard of the Zombies were thinking, "Hey, what's this great stuff??" Another highlight was "Butcher's Tale," sung and played in a campy but heartfelt style by They Might Be Giants. (Jim, who also attended the Feb. 15 show, reports that Lenny Zenith's version was even better.)

Owing to its content, the second set was obviously a little more subdued (but no less well done) than its predecessor. Kitty in the Tree did a fun version of "You Make Me Feel Good," Joe McGinty accompanied himself on piano on "I Don't Believe in Miracles," and Joe Condiracci performed a very Blunstonesque "Say You Don't Mind."

In the third set, Edward F. Rogers did a very nice half-and-half marriage of the Zombies' original and People's cover of "I Love You," and J. Mascis of Dinosaur Jr. did a standout job with "Imagine the Swan." Unfortunately, I had to leave the show a little early, but Jim reports that the Jenifer Jackson and Carla Capretto versions of "Whenever You're Ready" (performed on the 14th and 15th, respectively) were incredible, the latter taking on a Dusty Springfield-like quality.

Both the musicianship and instrumentation seemed to me to be right on target to the 60's feel. Dave Amels (of Voce, Inc.) provided keyboard wizardry that realistically reproduced the electric piano, organ, harmonium, and mellotron sound the Zombies characteristically used.

-Dave Goldsman