I was really looking forward to seeing the Smashing Pumpkins after they announced they were reuniting (minus D'Arcy), thinking, oh this is gonna be something special. Then a few days before the show I thought perhaps I had set myself up for disappointment, setting the bar too high. But 2 notes in, I realized there would be no disappointment, and the Smashing Pumpkins as I had hoped, exceeded my expectations. Ask anyone who was there, this was a mind melting rock show.
True there is still bad blood with some of the members. It took James Iha a long time and likely some serious convincing to get on board to record and tour again with Billy...but the convincing seemed to end there. Billy had already been in touch and playing here and there with drummer Jimmy Chamberlain so that wasn't the greatest shock, but then there is the D'Arcy factor. No mended fences there. Instead, on bass for this "Shiny and oh so Bright" reunion tour has been the son of Peter Hook (Joy Division and New Order), Jack Bates.
Aside from the smelly drunk dude next to me in the coveted 3rd row, who was hanging on me calling me "BUDDY!" all night, I have not a negative thing to say. The band was tight, Billy's vocals were soaring and his larger than life presence contrasted in the best possible way to the humble, cheerful quiet of his guitar partner-in-crime James Iha. The sound and the visuals were everything. Billy himself said very little except for a from the heart comparison of Boston to his home town of Chicago (truth) and a little back 'n forth with James, joking about how he's part Irish (he had Billy going on that one lol)
There were 2 strange but oddly interesting and twisted videos of Mark McGrath dressed in a Vaudeville showman's get up on a 5 story video screen speaking some ranting gibberish (a script clearly written by Billy) designed to eventually introduce the next song and likely to give the band a break and a set change.
Here are some more highlights:
Starting with "Disarm" and a Billy Corgan electric solo, was a stunning way to be reminded of the band's depth, passion and talent.
4 songs later... the music swelled into a stunning and moody version of Bowie's "Space Oddity" complete with a hooded Corgan in front of a Mars-like video backdrop. (video clip here:)
TD Garden 2018
it was beyond cool to hear the goose-bump producing song "Mayonnaise" live, and it's seamless segue into "Porcelina" had even the toughest rock dudes hold onto their hearts.
Then for the meat of the order:
Billy doing his signature acoustic and moving "Landslide" into "Tonight, Tonight" only to be outdone by a moving cover of "Stairway to Heaven" after which James said something tot he effect of, "Wow, thank you, if you had told me a year ago that I'd be playing Stairway at the Boston Garden I wouldn't have believed you"
TD Garden, 2018
Next was Cherub Rock, 1979, Ava Adore, Try Try Try and soon after Today, Bullet With Butterfly Wings and finally Muzzle.
Encore was their new song "Solara" (which is really quite under rated) and a finale of "Baby Mine" (a Betty Noyes cover which you can hear and weep over on Disney's Dumbo Soundtrack) Why they ended with this I can only surmise is to leave us with a message to be kind and cherish each other.
Thank you for rocking us, for stirring emotions we may have forgotten we had. Smashing Pumpkins are still as relevant and as loud, powerful and talented as ever before.