A good portion of Smashing Pumpkins fans are skeptical about the band’s most recent resurrection into the music scene, but that didn’t stop them from flocking by the hundreds to see them play at In the Venue Friday night.---
As people started to filter in, Chicago-based Bad City took the stage. Overall, they weren’t bad (pun intended) if you like unoriginal, over-the-top, ‘80s hair-metal. Their hit song, “Wildlife,” sounded suspiciously like a rip-off of Bon Jovi’s “Livin’ on a Prayer.” And the amount of times they flashed their tongues and said the words “rock n’ roll” soon became a source of mirth for the older crowd. The youngsters on the floor seemed to eat it up, though.
The venue hit capacity 45 minutes after the opener played, and that’s when The Smashing Pumpkins picked up their instruments and began playing a song off the new TearGarden by Kaleidyscope, “Astral Planes.” The moment the first chords were struck, all eyes fixated on the bald head of the remaining original pumpkin, Billy Corgan, and that’s where they remained the whole night.
“Shockingly, we play new music these days,” Corgan said when fans shouted for old ditties.
Four out of six songs were played from the new release, but the rest of the two-hour set was filled with older hits such as “Tonight, Tonight,” “Bullet with Butterfly Wings” and “Cherub Rock.” The newly acquired young drummer, Mike Byrne, was no Jimmy Chamberlain, but surprisingly enough held his own, as did the new bassist Nicole Fiorentino (But let’s be honest, we all miss D’Arcy Wretzky.)
Any concerns about Corgan’s skills (if there ever were any) were erased when Corgan played a Zeppelin song on his guitar with his mouth. Further highlights of the night included spontaneous instrumentals and a few jokes where he mentioned Joseph Smith and called his beer “Jesus juice.”
None complained when only one song, “Freak,” was played during the encore. All stood entranced while he performed what must have been 15 minutes of instrumental improv, which is something that not many musicians can get away with.
After watching this concert, no one can dispute that Billy Corgan is talented, if not a musical genius. The rest of the original Pumpkins are gone, but he’s still making the magic happen, with mouth and hands. He maybe the last pumpkin, but clearly he’s the only one that matters.
A brief update, as it turns out what was played last was an actual song called, "Gossamer." It was a song that didn't make it onto the album, Zeitgest. However, it was featured on the documentary, If All Goes Wrong. It does range anywhere from 15-30 minutes because of improv. Zero wasn't played (which I have amended) but there was merchandise relating to that particular song available for sale.