Billy Corgan and his latest version of The Smashing Pumpkins treated fans to a complete performance of their latest album, Oceania, before launching in to over an hour’s worth of fan favourites. While the idea of sitting through a largely unknown, and somewhat unremarkable, album like Oceania might seem a bit tedious, Corgan and his crew were winners on the night proving that after over 20 years they still have some gas left in the tank.
Kudos to Billy Corgan for having so much belief in his new songs that he wanted to play the entire album. My only beef is that I would have preferred it if the new songs were scattered among earlier tunes. Part of what makes a concert so exciting for me it not knowing what’s coming next. When an album is presented in its entirety, that element flies out the window.
Nevertheless, the fans were respectful and attentive throughout the playing of the 13 songs that comprise Oceania. The album wasn’t without its charms. Violet Rays stood out as a highlight and My Love Is Winter and One Diamond, One Heart featured some good old fashioned prog-rock sequencers noodling about. And Billy played a ripping guitar solo during the title track.
The huge illuminated globe above the stage had plenty of quasi-psychedelic graphics and film clips projected on it to keep things interesting during the dull bits.
After an hour or so of Oceania, Billy treated the crowd to a version of David Bowie’s Space Oddity. Corgan’s voice fits the song nicely, although drummer Mike Byrne did get a bit over-enthusiastic in his playing.
From then on it was nothing but the hits…The crowd was pumping during X.Y.U. Tonight, Tonight was downright thrilling and Bullet With Butterfly Wings was explosive. Corgan threw down some Hendrix-like moves along the way, playing his guitar over his head, behind his back and with his teeth.
After Soot And Stars, Corgan introduced Luna, a tune from Siamese Dream that has just been added to the set list.
The two-hour set ended with a sing-along version of Today. For the encore we got Zero, Ava Adore and Cherub Rock. Billy even attempted a spontaneous version of The Doors’ The End after an offhand comment from bass player Nicole Fiorentino.
The band itself sounded excellent. Drummer Mike Byrne showed plenty of power and finesse and guitarist Jeff Schroeder got his licks in as well. He and Billy even got into a bit of Thin Lizzy-like twin guitar soloing during Ava Adore.
Billy Corgan has been known to be volatile and moody on stage, but tonight he was a perfect gentleman, thanking the crowd for their support, thanking his fellow band members and hanging around after the final song to sign autographs from the stage. One gets the feeling he is in a good space at the moment. With such a fine band and an impressive catalogue of songs to play, it’s no wonder.
The Smashing Pumpkins set list:
- The Celestials
- Violet Rays
- My Love Is Winter
- One Diamond, One Heart
- Pale Horse
- The Chimera
- Space Oddity
- Tonight, Tonight
- Bullet With Butterfly Wings
- Soot And Stars
- Ava Adore
- Cherub Rock