Colin Blunstone performs "Though You are Far Away" and "Time of the Season" during a recent solo concert.
Celebrating the upcoming induction of The Zombies into the Rock and Roll Hall of Fame, lead singer Colin Blunstone did a solo gig at City Winery Friday night (Feb. 8) that not only underscored the Zombies’ merit as inductees but his own stature as one of rock’s great voices, then and now.
Backed by an excellent quartet (keyboards, bass, guitar and Zombies drummer Steve Rodford), the set included some Zombies classics, of course, but many more hits that Blunstone recorded during that band’s long hiatus. But after opening with Jimmy Ruffin’s Motown classic “What Becomes of the Brokenhearted”—which Blunstone sang on Dave Stewart’s 1980 U.K. cover hit—this most engaging performer felt compelled to ask the SRO room to take him at his word.
“I do try sometimes to be honest,” he admitted in his intimate near-whisper, explaining that he can do 23 interviews in a day and can tell interviewers “anything they want to hear!”
And then he promised that most of the evening’s repertoire would comprise songs that had been hits “somewhere--but never in the States!”
These included Duncan Browne’s “The Wild Places,” which had been a big hit in Holland, and which Blunstone covered on his 2012 solo album In the Air Tonight, “so I claim it second-hand!” He also sang his own 1972 solo U.K. hit “I Don’t Believe in Miracles,” and “Old and Wise,” the 1983 Alan Parsons Project that he sang lead on.
Blunstone begged the audience’s indulgence in advance of his big 1972 U.K. hit “Say You Don’t Mind,” out of unrealized fear of hitting its high notes. And finding himself now in “the autumn of my career [when] I can’t remember the words,” he asked for help in singing another Motown masterwork, The Miracles “The Tracks of My Tears,” which he had covered for a U.K. hit in 1982.
“If you sing out, I can lip-read!” he explained, though again, the fear was unfounded. And along with such fears came a confession: “Rod used to count how many beers I had—and I used to worry about falling off stage,” he said, referring to his Zombies co-founder Rod Argent. “That’s what beer does to you…and makes you write a song like this!”
Being that the song was The Zombies’ immortal “Time of the Season,” it was probably not the best example of alcohol overindulgence.
Blunstone closed with “She’s Not There,” The Zombies first hit, and “Just Out of Reach,” which was Blunstone's first composition and written for Otto Preminger's 1965 psychological thriller Bunny Lake is Missing, in which the Zombies appeared. And then he was off to join the rest of the band to perform on a Caribbean cruise prior to its much-deserved enshrinement in the Rock and Roll Hall of Fame.