Colin Blunstone has an incredible gift. His smooth, silky, voice belies his 70 years, as does his presence on stage. The voice has matured, a little, with age but still has that distinctive velvety sound with which I fell in love whilst listening to Say You Don’t Mind on Radio Luxembourg as a teenager in the early seventies.
I was, at the time perhaps, a little young to have fully appreciated his first foray into the charts, with the Zombies back in 1964, but Colin has created a magnificent catalogue of work with the Zombies, as a solo performer and in collaboration with others.
No doubt, then, he was spoilt for choice when choosing the songs for his recent solo tour which kicked off on a bleak night at Derby’s Flowerpot venue. Colin and his fans have a great respect for each other, and the Flowerpot. “It’s a lovely venue,” he said ahead of the show. “The people there are very together, very supportive. The people who run the gig and the audience there are wonderful, so I always look forward to going back there. They are a very knowledgeable, very enthusiastic audience, it’s a great place to play.”
So it was that Colin hit the ground running as he opened with Time To Move and What Becomes of the Broken Hearted. With Zombies dates coming up later in the year, this was an opportunity for Colin to concentrate on his solo work, including some self-penned songs, although a couple of Zombies tunes were included for good measure.
Colin explained that he calls upon personal experience for much his own writing. So Much More, from his excellent 2013 album On The Air Tonight, was about a lady whose luck ran out – and then she married him! His set also featured the 1971 track about his break up with the model Caroline Munro, Caroline Goodbye.
Two classic Blunstone single also featured, Russ Ballard’s I Don’t Believe In Miracles and a rocking version of the Denny Laine composition Say You Don’t Mind which first brought his name to the fore as a solo artist in 1972. Along the way Colin also paid tribute to the late Duncan Browne with his version of Wild Places.
After a short break Colin opened his second set with the magnificent trilogy from his 1974 album Journey: Wonderful and Colin’s own compositions Beginning and Let’s Keep The Curtains Closed Today. His solo band are first rate with keyboard player Pete Billington and a tight rhythm section of Elliot Mason (bass guitar) and regular Zombies drummer Steve Rodford. Beginning and Curtains also gave an opportunity for guitarist Manolo Polidario to display his exquisite technique. Curtains is an intensely personal and emotional love song and Colin’s delivery was spell-binding.
Colin also paid tribute to the work of Eric Woolfson the writer of Old And Wise, for which Colin contributed the vocals for the Alan Parsons Project recording back in ’82. He finished his set with the obligatory Zombies tracks Time Of The Season and, the one that started it all off in ’64, She’s Not There. The crowd, though, wanted some more, and Colin duly obliged with I Want Some More, his own composition from the classic 1972 album Ennismore.
Along with Rod Argent and the rest of the current Zombies line-up, Colin was heading for the US for a short tour in May before returning for some festival appearances through the summer. A Zombies UK tour is likely for the autumn. Can’t wait!