Smashing Pumpkins At The Gibson Amphitheatre

  • Smashing Pumpkins' Billy Corgan
    Photo: Chelsea Lauren/

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By Crystal Larsen
Universal City, Calif.

If there ever was an album-oriented '90s rock band, it was (and still is) Smashing Pumpkins. From 1993’s alt-rock gem Siamese Dream and 1995's 28-song collection, Melon Collie And The Infinite Sadness, to the heavy Zeitgeist and their recent ambitious release, Oceania, in 2007 and 2012, respectively, the album has remained an art form for the band. Fittingly, frontman Billy Corgan and his new crew — drummer Mike Byrne, bassist Nicole Fiorentino and guitarist Jeff Schroeder —  opened their set on Oct. 14 at the Gibson Amphitheatre by performing Oceania in its entirety because, as Corgan stated, "That's what we do."

Oceania is one of the most epic sets of songs Corgan has delivered since the late '90s, beginning with the arena-sized opener "Quasar," which last night started with a short intro from Corgan on keys before he led into a wailing guitar solo. Like clockwork, the black curtain that covered the back of the stage dropped to reveal a large white globe that throughout the night projected a series of cosmic images.

While Corgan has never been shy about expressing his feelings through his voice, the emotion dripping from every track on Oceania was potent. Highlights included the acoustic guitar-driven "The Celestials" on which Corgan warns, "Take a chance if you should go/Face upon your happy home," to "Pale Horse," which ends with Corgan longingly singing, "Please come back."

The first portion of the show was fittingly capped with the atmospheric closer "Wildflower," which featured all four members on keys backed by a series of hot-pink rotating lights that lined up like submarine windows. Picking up his electric guitar, Corgan submerged the audience with a liquefied guitar solo.

The band launched into the second half of the set with a crowd-pleasing take on David Bowie's "Space Oddity" before diving into the Smashing Pumpkins canon of classics. Early on, Corgan jokingly assured the crowd that the first part of the evening would be followed by "a few of those dusty classics — stuff off Dookie, Nevermind, Superunkown, and Van Halen."

The band never got to "All Apologies" or "Eruption" in their two-and-a-half-hour set, but they erupted with a series of songs that touched on power pop, metal, rock, and goth. After the unforgiving "X.Y.U.," the Pumpkins delivered the knockout punch of "Disarm," "Tonight, Tonight," "Bullet With Butterfly Wings," and "Zero," with "A Song For A Son," which Corgan wrote for his father, sandwiched between.

"L.A. is my lady tonight," said Corgan toward the end of the evening, recalling one of Frank Sinatra's tunes. The world, however, is still a vampire.

Set List
"The Celestials"
"Violet Rays"
"My Love Is Winter" 
"One Diamond, One Heart"
"Pale Horse"
"The Chimera"
"Space Oddity" (David Bowie cover)
"Tonight, Tonight"
"Bullet With Butterfly Wings"
"A Song For A Son"
"Cherub Rock"
"Ava Adore"

To catch Smashing Pumpkins in a city near you, click here for tour dates.

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