Anticipation was high Friday, Sept. 28, at the McKay Events Center. Fans came to find out whether alternative rock pioneers The Smashing Pumpkins could still deliver; and how the death of a fan only a few nights prior in Vancouver would affect the night’s show.
Armed with new guitarist Jeff Schroeder and bassist Ginger Reyes taking the place of James Iha and D’arcy Wretzky, frontman Billy Corgan reformed the ultimate band of the ’90s to again command the alternative scene. Fans couldn’t know exactly what to expect going into the show, but the chance to see the Smashing Pumpkins reunited was not one to miss.
Opening in direct support for the band was The Bravery. New York’s eclectic new-wave indie rock group managed to deliver a good performance, despite some minor setbacks with the vocals during a couple of songs.
The Bravery, though not the first choice for an opening band for most folks, fit well. Especially when given their recent contribution to a Smashing Pumpkins tribute album covering the song “Rocket.”
After The Bravery finished a set of their most popular songs, including “Honest Mistake” from the self-titled debut and “Believe” from The Sun and the Moon, all eagerly anticipated the headliner, chanting during the equipment set up.
The Smashing Pumpkins, all decked out in white, strode onto the stage to trumpet music. Without delay, they started off playing an interesting rendition of “The Star Spangled Banner” which led into “United States,” from Zeitgeist, effectively establishing the concert as epic.
Corgan and crew played through a set of familiar songs, such as the forceful “Bullet With Butterfly Wings” and “Zero,” as well as new tracks like “That’s The Way (My Love Is)” and “Doomsday Clock.”
About midway through the set, Schroeder and Reyes excused themselves, as the original members Corgan and Jimmy Chamberlain played a few acoustic songs. The acoustic intermission included the song “Perfect” off of Adore with Chamberlain on tambourine.
“This is my life partner Jimmy,” Corgan said, introducing Chamberlain to the crowd, eliciting a few laughs from the crowd. He followed that up by playing “1979,” which was pleasurable as a stripped-down acoustic tune. Making the song more meaningful, Corgan dedicated it to a mother whose daughter passed away recently.
Toward the end of the show, the crowd roared with excitement when the Smashing Pumpkins started into the intro for “Today,” the breakthrough hit from 1993’s Siamese Dream. This song seemed to fit the emotion of most in the crowd for whom seeing their rock idols live and reunited made that day “the greatest day.”
Throughout the entire show, Corgan seemed cool and composed as the band delved into deeper, extended jams. Corgan’s superb guitar skills shined, as he would burst into blazing solos. Occasionally, he would trade off, allowing Schroeder to take over the shredding as well.
After the band said good night and went backstage, everyone knew there was more to come. The first encore was only a single song, “Cherub Rock.” Then they departed again only to return for the second encore in which they played “Muzzle,” from their Mellon Collie and the Infinite Sadness double disc.
Back on the music scene and as good as ever, Smashing Pumpkins proved they haven’t lost it. In fact, they are better than ever; persevering time, lineup changes and much more – including the unfortunate passing of a fan at their show in Vancouver —t hat could turn many bands from the stage.