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Review & Photos: Smashing Pumpkins rule the stage in Cincinnati

By Neil Shumate, OOTB Publications
“The world is a vampire!” The timeless line—part of Smashing Pumpkins’ 1995 “Bullet With Butterfly Wings”—resounded through PNC Pavilion in Cincinnati last night about halfway through the band’s phenomenal twenty-song, two-hour set. 

The tour, titled by the aforementioned lyrics as “an evening with” show, gave fans a plethora of classics and a few new songs from the band’s recent tri-epic ATUM: A Rock Opera In Three Acts (including the Zwan-ish “Spellbinding” and the heavy “Beguiled,” during which lead vocalist/guitarist Billy Corgan’s two children joined the band on stage dancing with protective headphones on).

The light show throughout was phenomenal from stage top to bottom and well aligned with each song making for a sincere rock show, including a stripped down spotlighted intimate acoustic version of “Tonight, Tonight” with original members Corgan and guitarist James Iha. The live lineup also included original drummer Jimmy Chamberlin and longtime member Jeff Schroeder (guitars) along with backing Australian singer-songwriter Katie Coal (vocals/acoustic guitar) and bassist Jack Bates (Peter Hook’s son).

Seemingly dressed for the late 90’s Adore-era with a long black over coat and gothy eye makeup, Corgan’s vocals were sometimes shrill at the beginning, but his solo guitar parts were nothing short of impeccable. The tall, bald vocalist with grey facial hair appeared in good spirits as he and Iha traded humorous comments about the excessive humid SeaWorld-like environment and the duo’s 36-year history together. Corgan joked with Iha because Iha was wearing all white after Labor Day.

The overall setlist was a trip through various periods of the band’s extensive history—from “Siva,” “Disarm,” “Cherub Rock” and “Today” to “1979” through “Ava Adore” (which included a NIN “Perfect Drug”-like drum section by Chamberlin), “Perfect,” “The Everlasting Gaze” and “Doomsday Clock.”

Smashing Pumpkins’ one-of-a-kind modern alternative rock and classic pessimistic style remain untouchable. Nonetheless, the show proved that rock-and-roll is here to stay.

The Pumpkins closed with a defining silver color word that once graced many t-shirts in all caps (“Zero”) as Corgan asked the crowd: “Wanna go for a ride?”

THE SMASHING PUMPKINS (click photos to enlarge)