Live Review: The Smashing Pumpkins — Gibson Amphitheatre, Los Angeles
Mon, 15 Oct 2012 06:38:36
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Most bands don't host legendary tours after two decades.
Then again, The Smashing Pumpkins aren't most bands—nor have they ever been. Make no mistake about it, the Oceania tour will go down in history as one of the group's best.
A wonderful galactic cross-section of otherworldly visuals, flawless performances from Jeff Schroeder, Nicole Fiorentino, Mike Byrne, and Billy Corgan, enthralling lights, and some of rock 'n' roll's best songs, the tour's stop at The Gibson Amphitheatre proved completely unrestrained, unforgettable, and unique.
The four musicians took the stage, and Corgan drew out a warm and wild intro from a keyboard. Soon after, a black curtain dropped exposing "The Orb" high above Byrne's drum kit. A pastiche of colorful footage and graphics practically popped out of the globe as the band launched into a precisely thrash-y take on Oceania opener "Quasar". Corgan sounded utterly pristine as he sang and played perfectly. Everything capped off with a fret-melting solo courtesy of Schroeder, and The Smashing Pumpkins had landed in epic fashion.
Going through Oceania, Fiorentino's gorgeous harmonies colored "Panopticon" as she held down a tight groove in tandem with the drum virtuoso Byrne's impressive beats. "Celestials" and "My Love Is Winter" saw Corgan conjure true psychedelic bliss vocally. "Oceania" teetered from metallic bombast into a haunting distillation of loneliness—much like the band's most celebrated fare but with a new vigor. The Oceania portion of the set culminated on a tender "Wildflower", which saw the entire band except Corgan at keyboards. The frontman ignited one of the most heartfelt and hypnotic guitar leads of the evening that was as lyrical as it was lush.
In the midst of Oceania, Corgan smiled about "Dusting off classics" saying, "We'll do stuff like Dookie, Ten, Nevermind, Superunknown, and Van Halen I. That's how we do things around here".
Rather than tread the same old territory, Corgan and Co. challenge the status quo and end up raising the bar by performing Oceania in its entirety as the album is divine and meant to be heard from start-to-finish. Quickly, the band built into a tripped-out and heavy take on David Bowie's "Space Oddity", transitioning into the next phase of the show. "X.Y.U" bared The Smashing Pumkins' teeth with a staggering wall of riffs punctuated by unbridled vitriol as Corgan left off, "Bye, bye ya fucking bitch!"
"Disarm" pulled the packed venue directly into the band's warm embrace, illuminating another side of the musical mythos, while "Tonight, Tonight" exuded timeless inspiring and invigorating charm. "Bullet With Butterfly Wings" stirred up a massive sing-a-long, and "A Song for a Son" rose to the heavens on the group's jamming and sublime soloing.
With a grin, Corgan laughed, "Every heathen and Satanist in the room, we love you! That's 50 percent of L.A. right?"
Stripped of its industrial sheen, "Ava Adore" succinctly resounded with crunchy guitars and Corgan's wail, putting the gem under a different light and pleasing those Satanists. "Cherub Rock" still remains the ultimate Generation-X anthem. "Muzzle" capped off this immortal set with a terse balance of shredding and melody that no one can quite muster like The Smashing Pumpkins can.
Earlier in the evening, Anberlin ripped through a fiery and focused set that fused together hyper effusive energy and rapturous melodies. "Little Tyrants", from the band's phenomenal new effort Vital, kicked the door down with a swaggering guitar groove and singer Stephen Christian's impeccable delivery. "We Owe this To Ourselves" cruised ahead at light speed fueled by the musicians' uncontainable spirit and it evinced just how tight they are. "Paperthin Hymn" careened with potent emotion, while "Impossible" brought fans to their feet.
Christian dedicated a poetic and powerful "Self-Starter" to The Smashing Pumpkins, and its rousing intensity undoubtedly brought another smile to the headliner's faces.
In the end, The Smashing Pumpkins revolutionized rock music in the early '90s. At this point, that's fact. However, the release of Oceania and this tour see the band continuing their tradition of revolution. There only going to get better too. Here's to having The Smashing Pumpkins elevate rock for another 20 years…
See our exclusive interview between Billy Corgan of The Smashing Pumpkins and Stephen Christian of Anberlin here!
See the tour video below!
See Billy talk more about the tour here!
See our review of the Pisces Iscariot reissue here!
The Smashing Pumpkins featured in our "Bands Who Survived the '90s" piece!
See our review of Oceania here!
See our interview with Billy Corgan here!
See Billy Corgan list some favorite authors here!
See Billy Corgan list some favorite metal records here!
See our retrospective on Mellon Collie and the Infinite Sadness here!