The Smashing Pumpkins at the The Newport
Opening your concert by playing your new album straight through shows trust not only in the new songs but your fans as well. Considering how well their new album Oceania has sold when supposedly nobody is buying albums it might have helped assuage any concerns. Check that. I don’t think Billy Corgan has ever had such concerns.
I imagine there were some in the packed Newport that were just wanting to hear 1979 and that Butterfly song. Of note was one fan who shared his bewildering displeasure with a thumbs down. The rest of us enjoyed the two plus hours of rock and roll.
From the heavy riffs of the opening track “Quasar,” the crowd proved the band’s trust in those songs was correct. Other than the opening track, the most old school Pumpkin like “The Chimera” and the title track received the biggest pops from the crowd. Personal favorites were “The Celestials” and “Pinwheels” that has a larger scope live. In fact one of the impressive things about the show was how well the more melodic songs from the new album maintained that melody but didn’t shrink when played live.
From Corgan asking for a little impromptu Randy Rhodes from guitarist Jeff Schroeder to a little banter about the LA attitude toward sports with bassist Nicole Fiorentino, it was a good natured night. Most importantly was how they played together.Despite apparent sound issues on their end Corgan and his band mates sounded brutifully beautiful on the audience’s end, particularly the playing of drummer wunderkind Mike Byrne and his precise pummeling that makes Pumpkin songs well Pumpkin songs. Not that Corgan wasn’t the master showman and needler that he always is with his crowd pleasing solos and slight jabs at his own reputation. The point being this didn’t feel like Corgan and hired guns but a cohesive band that always seemed to know where the other was going.
To transition from new stuff to the classics, the band played a sludgey cover of Bowie’s “Space Oddity.” Then kicked off this second set with “X.Y.U” from Mellon Collie and the Infinite Sadness. Personal highlights of the “classics” portion of the night included Nicole’s bass intro of “Bullet With Butterfly Wings,” the digging out of the extremely dusty “Plume” (Plume! ), and the soaring closer “Today.”
It was an evening for old and new Smashing Pumpkins fans and just fans of the bombast that is often missing in rock n roll these days.
by Bradford Iten