THE SMASHING PUMPKINS
THURSDAY 26TH JULY 2012
The support band tonight seems to be the victim of some strange otherworldly energy drain. To be honest Sugar Army sound decent enough but there’s a general malaise on stage that makes them look uncomfortable to actually rock out. In short they could do with some sugar. The singer is guiltiest of all, looking and sounding in his scant banter between songs like he’d rather be at home on the sofa watching a little TV, maybe ordering a pizza. His lack of enthusiasm is at least consistent though, failing to raise an iota of excitement even when he tells us that they have a new album out in September. He sounds almost apologetic but promises to ‘tell you about it anyway’ something he fails to do, opting for uncomfortable silence. And to be frank there’s too much silence between songs, while the crowd is just left there hanging. Go pick up stagecraft 101 please…
Even before they hit the stage The Smashing Pumpkins are looking pretty guilty to me. Guilty, that is of perhaps having the best intro tape I’ve heard in many a long year: the girl next to me is asking ‘who’s this one, I love it’ with each song. The fact that I’m reeling them off amazes her almost as much as the tunes.
Just for the record we get: Small Faces –Itchycoo Park; Yardbirds – Shapes of Things; UFO – Doctor Doctor (edit); Rainbow’s Man on the Silver Mountain; Alice Cooper’s No More Mr Nice Guy; Kiss' Shock Me, Led Zeppelin's Immigrant Song;and end with Thin Lizzy’s Jailbreak. I’m impressed already and they haven’t played a note!
For a man who does such great interviews Billy Corgan is surprisingly quiet on stage and from a photographers point of view the fact him seems to live (on stage at least) entirely in the shadows is infuriating! But if the end result is a show like tonight’s then the reviewer in me can completely forgive him… The fact that Photographers aren’t allowed in the pit ‘In keeping with the album’ philosophy’ is a moot point to an extent as there’s so little light on Billy anyway.
The great news tonight of course is that Perth is graced with the first date on the Oceania tour of Oceania.
Starting with a full performance of their new album ‘Oceania’ (just released on June 22) could have been a gamble, but the fact that this is the Oceania leg of the tour and he’s been so good as to name the new opus after him wins a few points. The fact that it’s a bloody good album sort of wins to day too.
Live Smashing Pumpkins move little from their designated spots on stage and a huge lit globe full of projected images hangs overhead. As a spectacle it could offer a little more, but then we came for the music: and tonight is bang on the money.
Now those that expected or wanted a ‘greatest hits’ set were always going to be disappointed (don’t you guys know that by now). But let’s not start a ‘why? Billy why?’ diatribe here, we’ll leave that to the message boards where it seems to be a favourite topic over the years. From a personal point of view I left VERY satisfied.
What we do get is a night that reminds you how good The Smashing Pumpkins really are. We get to hear a great new album, but you’ll have to give me a few more listens before I even feel remotely capable of ranking it amongst great Pumpkin albums of the past. We also get some of those anthems. OK no ‘1970’ I guess but we do get a glorious ‘Tonight, Tonight ‘ and ‘Bullet With Butterfly Wings’ back-to-back and a couple of great covers from Bowie and Kiss.
Tonight the Pumpkins are on the top of their game and to close with the magic sounds of ‘Cherub Rock’; ‘Ava Adore’ and ‘Zero’ is pretty much the perfect close, before a little hero worship with ‘Black Diamond’ shows us the way home.
Nowhere else to be than here at Challenge tonight: I envy the rest of Oceania - these guys are coming your way…
Words and Images by Mark Diggins