Believe in me, as I’ve believed in you, tonight
That unforgettable line from the iconic track Tonight, Tonight could have been the theme of last night’s Smashing Pumpkins show last night at the Air Canada Centre.
Billy Corgan wants you to believe in him once again. The most recent incarnation of the Smashing Pumpkins has been met with a wave of skepticism. Afterall, what’s a band without 3/4 of the originals? The doubts have extended from an existential stand point to a musical one as well, as recent record Oceania was released rather quietly this summer. Surprisingly enough Oceania has garnered positive reviews everywhere and has since been seen as some of Corgan’s best work since the Melon Collie days.
Still through it all, Billy and gang still believed.
Believed it to a point that the Pumpkins booked an arena sized tour through North America.
Which brings us to Thursday’s show.
While not exactly packed (the entire upper bowl was empty, and there was more then enough space for people in the pit), a reasonable crowd still greeted the band when they took the stage. Playing underneath a giant globe-esque thing that would project visuals throughout the night, the Smashing Pumpkins played an oddly paced set that featured as promised, Oceania played in it’s entirety from front to back. As someone who is completely unfamiliar with the album, I would say it sounded alright. At first, I thought Corgan sounded a bit off key for some of the tracks, but what the hell, it’s the Pumpkins, that might have been deliberate. You can’t really claim someone sounds off key if you don’t know what the correct key is, I guess.
As expected, the crowd awakened for the “Deep Cuts and Classics” portion of the show, which was kicked off with a not-sure-if-necessary cover of David Bowie’s Space Oddity. A slew of hits – Disarm, the majestic Tonight Tonight, the dreamy Today and of course, everyone’s favorite apocalyptic 90s rock song – Bullet With Butterfly Wings followed. For the most part, those tracks sounded as good as you would think they would sound, and if there were any mis-steps along the way, your memory probably filled in the blanks anyway. That’s the power of nostalgia. In between those hits, there was also a lengthy Billy Corgan guitar solo as well as a even lengthier conversation with the crowd in which Corgan and the band talked about hockey, baseball and pro wrestling. It all led to very odd pacing, as the crowd would get worked up over the classic but then would simmer down as they had to wait a while for the next song. I’m pretty sure this would appeal to the mischievous side of Corgan, who despite his seemingly genuine appreciation for the crowd, also seems to love playing with them throughout the show.
Nevertheless, with an encore comprising of crowd pleasers Cherub Rock and Zero, it was quite obvious the crowd got what they want, and since everyone who wanted a good spot on the floor/didn’t know the setlist had to come early and listen to Oceania in it’s entirety, it’s not hard to figure out the Pumpkins got what they want. A chance that maybe these fans will like them for who they are now, and not who they were.
My Love Is Winter
One Diamond, One Heart
Bullet With Butterfly Wings
A Song for a Son
Stand Inside Your Love