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Saturday night was one for books. The prolific purveyors of gothic rock, Smashing Pumpkins, lit up Pittsburgh on their “Shiny and Oh So Bright” reunion tour across North America. Seeing as this will probably be the last time Billy Corgan and company will hit the road for quite some time, the Smashing Pumpkins really have been pulling out all the stops for this current tour. With stage production that was truly a marvel to behold in itself, Smashing Pumpkins’ three hour epic had the nostalgia running rampant. Hitting the lights around 9:15, a giant LED screen began showing a highlight reel of Smashing Pumpkins’ discography in the form of album art that seemed to be coming to life on the screen. As the crowd cheered and stood, mesmerized as the woman of Mellon Collie and the Infinite Sadness gazed down lovingly upon them, Corgan emerged from the backdrop. When the spotlight hit him and people began to register who the figure was standing centerstage, the cheers and roars from the audience were almost earth-shattering. With acoustic guitar in hand, the original “sad boy” took everyone by surprise and opened with “Disarm” off Corgan’s massively critical and commercial success, Siamese Dream. A riveting track that touches heavily upon his own childhood, the emotional tone of Corgan’s voice really hits a nerve with anyone who has dealt with domestic abuse in the past.
After this intense and tear-jerking opener, the rest of the band came out as Corgan struck up a chord to “Rocket”. With a badass amplified guitar intro that sounded almost like a buzzsaw, it was hard not to put down my camera and head-bang along with the rest of the packed stadium as the drums mixed in with Corgan’s guitar. With a climax that culminated in Corgan shredding on the guitar to close out the song, Smashing Pumpkins were matching all the energy they showed back at the height of their popularity back in the early-90’s.
One of the many highlights of Smashing Pumpkins’ performance had to be when they covered David Bowie’s “Space Oddity”. Coming back onstage with a hooded, somewhat astral-styled jacket, Corgan climbed the raised flight of stairs to face the crowd. Channeling his inner Bowie persona, Corgan absolutely nailed the cover down to a T. Dancing weirdly around as the dazzling and space-like visuals shown bright behind him, Corgan seemed to be having just as much fun as the rest of the packed stadium. The light production really did give a sense of drifting through space, looking down upon some unknown planetary landscape. It was crazy to think that they were only five songs in and they were already putting on a show befitting of a great encore; it really made me look forward to see what else they had planned for the remainder of the night.
The middle of their setlist had the most meat on the bone for sure. Playing their much anticipated cover of Fleetwood Mac’s “Landslide”, it seemed like Smashing Pumpkins were leaving the crowd little time to catch their breath. Following this, they played “Tonight, Tonight”, Led Zeppelin’s “Stairway to Heaven” (much to everyone’s delight), and “Cherub Rock”. Smashing Pumpkins promised a show for the ages, and they definitely delivered. It really made me yearn to be back in the heyday of 90’s rock where Smashing Pumpkins, along with Nirvana and Pearl Jam, reigned supreme. Smashing Pumpkins’ performance was the perfect blend of hard-nosed and light-hearted rock that all culminated in Corgan’s grandiose performance. The longest and most epic concert I’ve witnessed to date, any fan of perfect showmanship and musical technicality owes it to themselves to catch Smashing Pumpkins before it’s too late. For more information on their, hit the link here!