The Smashing Pumpkins/ Oceania Live in NYC (Virgin, 2013)
So The Smashing Pumpkins have finally issued their first proper live document. I tend not to count Earphoria, as it is a live compilation and has several studio songs interspersed throughout it, nor do I count the assorted live bonus tracks on the recent reissues. This is the first time that The Pumpkins live experience has been preserved on wax, or digitally encoded aluminum encased in plastic, as the case may be. My question is, why now?
I caught this tour (and most of this setlist) in Detroit two months prior to the show presented on this 2 CD/DVD set, and it doesn't seem too different aside from the few additional songs. While I thought that Oceania was a great return to form, asking fans, many of whom may not own it, to sit through 13 songs in a row was a challenge. To Billy Corgan's credit, he always has a vision for each album and era and sees it through to the end, for better or for worse. He brought out the largest production that the band has had since their '90s commercial heyday, a holographic, 3D globe that was incredible to see in person. There is a DVD of this show included, but I never watch those things. I haven't even removed the DVD from the spindle, to be honest with you. This review will stick with the audio portion of this package.
Performance-wise, things are great. This line up of the band has delivered all three times that I have caught them, and this recording is no exception. Their cover of Space Oddity was a tour staple. The Dream Machine is a new, as yet unreleased song. This has always been a Pumpkins hallmark, doing songs live before they recorded them. The song is a mess though, a series of riffs slapped together in a non-cohesive manner not unlike Superchrist.
So New York got Hummer on this tour...bastards. I saw them bring it out of the mothballs in Grand Rapids in July of 2010, so I guess I can't complain too much. This live album documents the resurrected band as an evolving unit, but my question remains: Why now? Why didn't they release a live album in 1997, or 2001? Why now? Like many of the band's decisions, only Billy Corgan will likely ever know...
Junk Food For Thought rating: 3.75 out of 5.