The Smashing Pumpkins Auckland concert review
Sun, 05 Aug 2012 7:34p.m.
By David Farrier
It’s impossible to walk into a Smashing Pumpkins show without baggage. Whether you were obsessed with the band in the ‘90s, hated that comment you read from Billy Corgan a while ago on some blog, or walked out of their last concert because that guitar solo was too long, one fact remains – everyone goes into a Smashing Pumpkins show with some pretty strong opinions.
Me, I love the Smashing Pumpkins, but I walked out of their last show. It was loud, Corgan was dismissive and rude to the audience, and there was an extended jam that never seemed to end.
That concert was fuelled by Zeitgeist, the album that proclaimed the Pumpkins were back together again – Jimmy Chamberlin and Billy Corgan, reunited. The album was good, but it wasn’t great, and that tour was just painful.
Then Chamberlin left.
Billy Corgan got a new band of merry musicians around him while continuing to slag off James Iha (some things never change), and new Smashing Pumpkins songs started dribbling out online, one at a time.
He called the project Teargarden by Kaleidyscope. Corgan was done with the album. I was curious what this new direction would take, but then he decided to do another album, Oceania. The dribbling wasn't working for him.
And you know what? That album was good. Very good. It sent him back to New Zealand to play that album in its entirety – a ballsy move – then do a Bowie cover, then do the greatest hits.
It worked. Oh yes, it worked. Oceania is a great album.
Corgan continues to maintain it’s a forward-thinking affair with no weight on the past. But the fact is, this record transports you back to the ‘90s Pumpkins, when things were epic, huge, and felt just oh-so-connected-and-good.
‘Panopticon’ and ‘Pinwheels’ were standouts, and the remarkable thing is while I had a month of listening to his album before the show, my friend who hadn’t heard a thing still enjoyed it.
Above the stage there was a giant ball, projected with various digital images and stock footage. It wasn't rocket science, but it was a nice visual accompaniment.
Then the hits, oh my. He’s still got it. ‘Disarm’, ‘Tonight’, ‘Luna’ – yes, ‘Luna’! – and ‘Zero’.
Despite Corgan tweeting the next day that he felt like he had razorblades down this throat, he sounded divine as he sang in that voice, “Emptiness is loneliness, and loneliness is cleanliness, and cleanliness is godliness, and God is empty just like me.”
I was a teenager again, but I was also 29 and happy.
A kid who looked about 15 was next to me, grinning his head off.
A fat, 40-year-old guy was jumping around to my right.
Billy Corgan was grinning on stage, not sneering and insulting us.
He’s a formidable size, but there was no trench coat. This was a man who, while he wouldn’t admit it to me in an interview before the show, is in a far more content place.
His new band is good; the new songs are good; the old songs are good.
And as the house lights went up, Corgan stayed on stage just grinning and beckoning to the crowd. He was actually thankful.
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6/08/2012 4:32:18 p.m.
Great show from start to finish! Correction to the article above though... It wasn't B.Corgan who tweeted about feeling like he had razorblades down his throat... It was Nicole Fiorentino the bass guitarist...
5/08/2012 10:47:18 p.m.
the concert was amazing, what a night, what a band, and the fact that at the end of it that Billy purposefully stayed to sign my girlfriends copy of Oceania speaks testaments about what a cool guy that Billy is.
David F I really liked your interview, however I normally do, keep it up :-)
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