The Smashing Pumpkins w/ Light FM and Fancy Space People @ The Fillmore in Detroit, MI, 10/15/2011
I love ye olde State Theatre. I am a sucker for those opulent wall carvings of yore and the acoustics are great in there.
Light FM was the first opening act, and as the saying goes, imitation is the sincerest form of flattery. Billy Corgan should feel very flattered, as these guys copied the Pumpkins blueprint as well as they could. They came off as a mimeographed copy in my opinion.
Fancy Space People were up next. There were 8 members of the band, and they all wore silver space suit looking outfits. They looked like the offspring of Ziggy Stardust-era David Bowie and early Alice Cooper, and they sounded about the same...only without the songs. Regardless, I couldn't stop watching, and when they referred to the crowd as “People of Earth” they scored huge points from me. It was ridiculous and awful and awesome, all in one package.
The Smashing Pumpkins rose from the ashes in 2010 after imploding once again on their disastrous “20th Anniversary Tour” in the Fall of 2008. I count anniversaries by album release date, so this was their 20th Anniversary Tour in my opinion. They had the same stage set as last Summer, with the spinning flower petals and retina frying strobes and lights. I was so geeked about this show that I A) almost forgot my phone (my wife ran it out to the car as we were leaving) and B) I forgot to charge it and the battery died as the band came on, ergo only a few photos. Go me.
They opened with two songs off of the forthcoming Oceania album, Quasar and Panopticon. The former sounded very Gish-esque, all attack without being as overtly 'Metal' as the misguided Zeitgeist album. The lights were very psychedelic throughout the show, and the flower petals spun during the more “Rocking” moments. This line-up is pure gold, being worlds better than the original band. Starla was up next, and I haven't seen them do that one live since the Farewell Concert at the United Center in Chicago in 2000. Billy was in a great mood and his voice sounded great throughout the night.
One thing about the Pumpkins in 2011 is that Billy no longer shies away from his ability as a lead guitarist. He really goes for it in the guitar solos these days, like on Starla and during the jam at the end. Jeff Schroeder is no slouch, either. Corgan always seemed to be embarrassed about being a good guitarist during the '90s because it was unfashionable for bands of the day to be proficient at their instruments. I'm glad that we're past that.
Geek U.S.A. was another rarity. The emphasis was definitely on the Rock tonight. Muzzle (another song that I haven't heard them do since 2000) was a joy to hear live again. This is one of my favorite Pumpkins songs. Mike Byrne nailed all of the Jimmy Chamberlin drum fills, and I honestly don't care if Chamberlin ever returns to the fold. Many fans want to see the “original” line up of the band. I hope that this is the line up of the band for the rest of the ride. Window Paine was mind-blowing goodness. I had never seen them do that one live before. The band was channeling their psychedelic side tonight, with the emphasis being on the Gish, Siamese Dream and Pisces Iscariot albums. Lightning Strikes was one of only two songs from the Teargarden By Kaleidyscope “album”. Soma was wonderful, and I haven't heard them do that one live since 1999. This wasn't just a nostalgic run down memory lane, though. The band played these songs like they meant it, and they played them better than the “real” band. I challenge any naysayers to see this incarnation of the band live and then tell me that the original line-up was better.
Siva was another one that I haven't seen them do since the United Center in Chicago in 2000, and it sounded great. Bassist Nicole Fiorentino does a great job with the backing vocals. Oceania was epic, and based on the new songs performed tonight, I have insanely high hopes for the new album. Chalk up Frail and Bedazzled in the songs I've never heard them do before live column. Silverfuck was amazing, done at a breakneck tempo that seemed to teeter on the verge of being derailed at any given moment. I haven't heard them do this one since Toledo in January of 1997. Obscured was another rare treat, one of many in this show.
Pale Horse was another new one, and also sounded fantastic. The hallmark of a great song is if you don't know it, hear it live, and are blown away by it. That is definitely the case with these Oceania songs. Thru the Eyes of Ruby was a real treat, and it has also been MIA live since that Toledo show in 1997. I have a hard time believing how many years have passed since these albums and concerts happened. The end of the song went into I Am One, and after a few minutes of jamming, stopped. This was the only moment of the show that was close to being a “disappointment”. The show was perfect, in all honesty.
Cherub Rock was what started it all for me. Everyone and their brother claims to have bought Gish the day that it came out...whatever. I came on board in 1993 and am not embarrassed to admit it. Owata sounds great live, but the TBK version is so vanilla. How can a song that goes over so great live be so bland on album...er, mp3? (It's never been issues on a physical format.) My Love Is Winter hits all of the sweet spots, and for the umpteenth time, I am stoked to hear Oceania.
Drummer Mike Byrne played the intro to For Martha on some vintage organ/ piano thing, and did a great job doing so. I have never seen the Pumpkins do musical chairs a la Sloan before.
Then came the encore. Another new song, Pinwheels, was up next. Pissant was an absolute blast to hear live and was a total jam. Bullet With Butterfly Wings capped off things. What a great show. I wanted to get in my car and drive to the next one as soon as it was over. The Smashing Pumpkins can't return to Detroit soon enough for me.