Live Review: The Smashing Pumpkins – Gibson Amphitheater, Los Angeles
Thu, 04 Dec 2008 15:04:43
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"Love is suicide," bellowed Billy Corgan during the second show of The Smashing Pumpkins' two-night stand at The Gibson Amphitheater. There's a simple brilliance to many of Corgan's lyrics, and that particular line from "Bodies," off Mellon Collie and the Infinite Sadness, is no exception. The whole crowd chanted that chorus along with Corgan midway through The Pumpkins' set, and it possessed a magical darkness. There's something comforting about such visceral music, and that's why The Pumpkins remain one of the most important rock n' roll bands of all time. These days, though, they sound more enlivened, energetic and enlightened than ever. In fact, their live show has become an unparalleled happening.
The Pumpkins didn't repeat one song from the previous night's show. However, they cranked out enough hits to more than satisfy any casual fans in the audience, even though the never-ending sing-a-long coming from the crowd made it feel like everyone was a diehard—even if for just one night. The show began with the syncopated electronic flourishes of "Ava Adore." Corgan, sans guitar, stalked the front of the stage, getting close to the crowd as he crooned the song's refrain, "We must never be apart." He carried a glowing plastic pumpkin and sprinkled glitter from it on the audience. Like some sort of mystical wizard, Corgan instantly opened up the gates and allowed the audience into his world. That intimacy has become The Pumpkins' new trademark live, and it's made them undeniably hypnotic.
Corgan made his first statement of the night after the song, exclaiming, "Thank you very much, everybody! Welcome to our show—the greatest show on Earth." His ear-to-ear smile gave the claim warmth, and the band soon kicked into the dreamy delicacy of "Cupid de Locke." Its massive melody embraced the crowd and there was no turning away. Next up, Corgan launched into the band's mega-hit "1979," and the audience exploded. The song's soft chorus simply soared.
The Pumpkins kept it acoustic for a few more numbers, including "Owata" and "Sunkissed." Choosing to open up softer was an interesting flip from last night's explosive opening, but it worked just as well. Shedding the acoustic guitars, the band delved into the ethereal prog of "Soma." One of Siamese Dream's best songs, the track took on a new life live, and as the barrier of distortion built, everyone got even closer to Corgan.
A barrage of hits quickly followed as "Cherub Rock" gave way to "Zero," and the exuberant fans could barely contain themselves. This is The Smashing Pumpkins they know, love and obsess over. This is the Smashing Pumpkins that broke all the rules. This is The Smashing Pumpkins that will live forever. "Bodies" proved to be a highlight, as Corgan bled passion into each and every scream.
A stirring violin solo segued into a heavy and emotional "Galapagos." The band then ventured further into prog territory with long, heavy jams, marked by unshakable riffs and rhythms. The crescendo of the show's energy definitely differed from the previous night, but it was no less poignant or powerful.
At one point, Corgan made an important comment. "We've been pissing people off for 20 years, and we're not going to stop." The fans roared, and he continued, "Don't give up on us yet. We've got a lot of music left in us." As "I Am One Part Two" closed the marathon two-and-a-half hour plus show, it was clear The Pumpkins aren't going anywhere. Everyone was fine with that. It was such a beautiful darkness.