The Rock Royalty Tour: The Zombies, The Yardbirds & The Spencer Davis Group

Mike Perciaccante By

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The Zombies, The Yardbirds & The Spencer Davis Group
The Fillmore At Irving Plaza
New York, NY
July 10, 2009

"I'm A Man," "Over Under Sideways Down," "Heart Full of Soul," "For Your Love," "The Train Kept A-Rollin'" and "Gimme Some Lovin'" were but a few of the huge hits served up to a very happy and attentive crowd at The Fillmore At Irving Plaza on this warm Friday night in New York City. On any other night, at any other concert this fact would suffice. On this evening these hit songs were presented by The Rock Royalty Tour's two opening acts—The Spencer Davis Group) and The Yardbirds.

The event survived the change of venue from the original Hammerstein Ballroom with little or no obvious issues. Ticket holders were pleased to learn that seats had been set-up at the traditionally standing-only performance space.

The Spencer Davis Group was first on stage. Beginning at precisely 8:00 p.m., Davis and his band (Edward Tree on guitar, Jim Blazer on keys, Taras Prodaniuk on bass and drummer Tom Fillman), had the audience up, dancing and singing along to old hits and newly discovered faves, including the title track from their 2008 release, So Far (Fuel 2000).

Next up was The Yardbirds, the English blues band which is just as famous for its former lead guitarists (Eric Clapton, Jeff Beck and Jimmy Page) as it is for its music. This reformed version of the band featured its original rhythm section of Chris Dreja on rhythm guitar and Jim McCarty on drums along with lead guitarist Ben King, new lead singer Andy Mitchell who accompanied himself on guitar and harmonica and David Smale on bass guitar. The Yardbirds' hour-long set (in addition to the songs mentioned earlier) also included "Shapes of Things" and "Too Much Monkey Business" plus the original, bluesier version of Jimmy Page's Led Zeppelin opus "Dazed And Confused."

The headlining act, The Zombies offered even more hits and well-known songs. Singer, Colin Blunstone and organist Rod Argent incorporated classic Zombies tunes with new songs, some less well-known album tracks and songs from Argent's tenure with his eponymously named more-rocking '70s outfit.

Featuring slick harmonies, organ soaked bluesy pop over strong bass-lines and a tasty backbeat, The Zombies current lineup featuring Jim Rodford (formerly of Argent and The Kinks) on bass, Keith Airey on guitar and Steve Rodford on drums opened with "I Love You" and immediately had the audience eating out of the palm of their hands.

Blending in tracks ("Rose For Emily," "I Want Her She Wants Me" and, of course, "Time Of The Season") from their Odessey And Oracle (Date, 1968), album [which has received the same reverence as The Beach Boys' Pet Sounds (Capitol, 1966) and The Beatles' Sgt. Pepper's Lonely Hearts Club Band (Capitol, 1967)] with "I Don't Believe In Miracles," "What Becomes Of The Brokenhearted," "This Will Be Our Year," and the George Gershwin classic "Summertime," the band delivered a lively song cycle that kept even the most critical of their fans smiling. Toward the end of the set the zombies roared through fantastic versions of "Hold Your Head Up," "Tell Her No" and "She's Not There" that had the audience up and singing along with the band.

The Zombies and Argent have been sited as major influences by many superstar acts including Paul Weller, Billy Joel, Fleet Foxes, Dave Grohl (of Nirvana and The Foo Fighters), the Arctic Monkeys and many others. Their influences can be heard in the music of The Doors, The Byrds and The Kinks—their songs have been covered by such varied artists as Kiss and Beck. And, on this night, it was quite obvious why those artists were moved and influenced by The Zombies music.

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