Is it really three and a half hours? That was the question floating among the crowd as they prepared for The Smashing Pumpkins and their 30th Anniversary Shiny And Oh So Bright Tour. Guitarist James Iha and drummer Jimmy Chamberlin returned for the tour, leaving only bassist D’Arcy the only original member to not return. Having the band run through 31 songs was at times brilliant and others a bit exhausting. Regardless, the audience certainly got its monies worth.
Opening with only singer/guitarist/founder Billy Corgan on acoustic playing Disarm, one of their most brilliant and well-known songs. The amazing production featured snippets of Billie’s childhood on the large screen as his voice boomed out. From there two songs that landed them on solid ground in the grunge era, Rocket and Siva, were true scorchers including Billy playing guitar hero just to remind you that the boy can shred. This was followed by Rhinoceros, another amazing tune from their early era, and clips of the original band in the background.
As guitarist Jeff Schroeder (permanent member) and touring members Jack Bates on bass and Katie Cole on keyboards, went into the Bowie cover of Space Oddity and that’s when things went a bit sideways. Much like when the band departed their grungy style after Gish and Siamese Dream and delved into their more artsy softer side, there were some things that lost the audience. Billy attempted to make it a very theatrical performance for the song, but wearing a long silver cloak and hood and looking a bit like Emperor Palpatine does Bowie, he just seemed awkward and the cover was a bit off. Don’t worry though they got right back on track and the two other covers in the set of Fleetwood Mac’s Landslide and Led Zeppelin’s Stairway to Heaven were fantastic.
In fact, Landslide was a really powerful highlight along with Cherub Rock, 1979, and Tonight Tonight, Mayonaise, and Bullet With Butterfly Wings. The piano-focused For Martha and To Sheila were executed perfectly and really highlighted Katie Cole’s backing vocals, although Corgan’s hat and fashion sense were once again questionable.
There were, of course, a ton of other songs, some interesting banter from Corgan, and some odd interludes via video from Sugar Ray’s Mark McGrath. All in all, it was an amazing night of music from an extremely tight band and a highly talented leader and songwriter extraordinaire. As someone from the crowd yelled, “next year Hall of Fame”, it was a moment to reflect on the music the Pumpkins have given us and scream back, ‘no doubt’.
All photos © AWeldingphoto 2018
SMASHING PUMPKINS SETLIST
(Billy Corgan solo)
(David Bowie cover)
The Everlasting Gaze
Stand Inside Your Love
Blew Away (James Iha vocal)
Porcelina of the Vast Oceans
(Fleetwood Mac cover)
Stairway to Heaven
(Led Zeppelin cover)
Try, Try, Try
The Beginning Is the End Is the Beginning
Bullet With Butterfly Wings