Based off their performance at Mohegan Sun on Sunday night, it would seem like the Smashing Pumpkins are about ready to put the past behind them.
The past can’t be entirely forgotten, which has become all too apparent for Billy Corgan. With everything he touches, every bit of new creative output, a headless horseman follows to toss about the ghosts of pumpkins past.
Of course, making such a big deal about reclaiming that band from the past kind of calls for it.
But this concert at Mohegan was about the present. Specifically Oceania, Corgan and co.’s latest album. The record, a big chunk of the conceptual epic “Teargarden by Kaleidyscope,” was performed front to back in its entirety.
It’s a bold move for an album’s first tour, but it’s one that seemed to go over well with plenty in the audience. There were fans there who were actually singing along to new songs. Young ones. Smiling and cheering. And all without a song on a Michael Bay movie soundtrack.
Corgan looked to be in good spirits as well. The whole band seemed to mesh, well, comfortably. Midway through the Oceania set, Corgan bantered with guitarist Jeff Schroeder. “You know what we’re going to do after we play Oceania?” Billy said. “Yeah, gamble!” replied Schroeder. (The correct answer was apparently to play old songs, or ‘dusties’ as Corgan referred to them. There were 8 total).
It was certainly a different vibe from the band’s 2008 jaunt at the casino. Rather than joking about “blowing his brains” at the craps table, the ghosts of pumpkins past seemed to drain the life from Corgan. It was the 20th anniversary tour, after all.
This time around he played with spirit. Not ‘god of rock and roll’ spirit, but with just enough gusto for ‘The Chimera’ to pop, ‘XYU’ to be brutal, and ‘Tonight, Tonight’ to glisten.
The Pumpkins’ newest blood, bassist Nicole Fiorentino and drummer Mike Byrne, fell into place well (Fiorentino, apparently a native of the area, had her mom in the audience). Byrne had perhaps the greatest weight to carry on his 22 year old shoulders- that of replacing Jimmy Chamberlin, the only original member other than Corgan to survive the band’s reincarnation.
It would be nearly impossible to replicate Chamberlin’s unnaturally-natural style, and Chamberlin is more technical and subtle. However Byrne was no slug, and thumped his way through classics like ‘Bullet With Butterfly Wings’ and ‘Cherub Rock.’
Perhaps the Smashing Pumpkins are finally coming back into their own. It is not, after all, the same band. The zeitgeist of this concert was moving on (a signal of which was that nary a note of that synonymous album was performed), so maybe if Billy has done so, and most of the “play the hits” fans have too, then it’s time to let the jack-o-lantern wounds heal.
What did you think of the concert? Leave a comment below!