On taking a run at the Zombies, Bart Mendoza (who orchestrated the tribute show) relates, “As a kid, I was intrigued by the way they dressed. Paul Atkinson was my inspiration — I wore a white shirt, black vest, those boots, square-rimmed glasses — he was a kindred spirit. Then I heard the music — wow! Argent’s otherworldly keyboards, the chording and arrangements, Colin’s voice — the quality of their output is up there with the Beatles.”
Mimicking Colin Blunstone’s octave-spanning vocals is just part of the challenge in covering songs that merge the Zombies’ sublime tones with precise rock. Mojo Working’s drummer/vocalist Scott Mathiasen injects fire into “Just Out of Reach,” then fuels a slam through the Zombies’ cover of Bo Diddley’s “Road Runner” that rocks closer to Diddley’s. Alone, with an acoustic guitar, Blaise Guld delivers the delicate nuances of “Tell Her No” over a talkative crowd before Shake Before Us teases with prisoner-free takes on three Odessey and Oracle tracks. It’s a well-positioned climax to the tribute’s orchestration of musicians by a musician.
Mendoza (whose band True Stories shone on “Is This the Dream,” among others) sheds light on his choices for the show’s players. “I saw Normandie Wilson break into tears at a Zombies concert, over ‘The Way I Feel Inside’.” “Shake Before Us was obvious — any ‘60s-influenced band with keys is going to be influenced by the Zombies.”
Concert: Tribute to the Zombies, featuring True Stories, Diana Death, Wayne Riker, Normandie Wilson, Scott Mathiasen & Mojo Working, Blaise Guld, and Shake Before Us
Date: March 26
Venue: Bar Pink
Seats: Stage front