On Saturday, September 9th, I attended my 7th Smashing Pumpkins concert at Ruoff Music Center in Noblesville, Indiana. It was the last stop on the band’s The World is a Vampire Tour. The Pumpkins played 21 songs- a mix of fan favorites, some new songs from Atum and a few covers. From my first show in 1991 to my most recent, the three hour behemoth Shiny and Oh So Bright tour, I have never seen the band play with such joy. Billy Corgan has always been an artist who fought for respectability, who pushed the envelope of what a band can do, and followed his vision in the face of scrutiny. With that mission comes a serious edge, I suppose, but that veil was lifted Saturday. There was a joy that permeated the stage and came through in the music and performance.
The coolest part of the night happened during Tonight Tonight. Following some presong banter between James Iha and Billy, in which they teased about a song about condiments, insinuating Mayonaise, the two embarked on a wonderful acoustic rendition of Tonight Tonight. During the song, there was a lot of audience participation and love for the performance. At one point, Billy stepped back and tapped his heart, pausing before returning to the song. He looked genuinely thankful and in awe of the love they were receiving. Sometimes during shows, the audience gets some canned bits that all audiences receive. This one seemed genuine and of the moment. Very cool!
Next, any tour has a focus on the new music. From Atum we got three new entries: Spellbinding, Empires and Beguiled. All three are amazing songs and were performed brilliantly. I loved Empires and Beguiled from the moment they came out; they are bangers. I wasn’t sure how I would feel about Spellbinding. It has a synth edge to it and, on the album, has a build up that allows for the triumph of the story and song to come through. (see the Atum story for its placement and message) I loved the live version; they managed to mix it well and the super catchy melody fits neatly with the Mellon Collie era of Pumpkins that many love. Spellbinding was definitely a highlight for me.
The classics- as I said in my Pumpkins album breakdown, Siamese Dream is my favorite record of all time. They played four songs from this album, including my favorite and very underrated Hummer. This song is everything that is right with music. A super cool groove building to some sweet, heavy layered guitars. Soft moments. Loud moments. Beautiful lyrics. Perfection. They also played Today, Disarm and Cherub Rock. Today and Disarm got a lot of audience participation. Great high points during the concert.
Ava Adore scored some points for me. Typically I don’t love that song or the album. However, on this night, Billy put down the guitar and went all vocal and performance. He looked like he relished the moment. The song was played well and played hard. Billy added theatrics to the lyrics and made it a memorable performance.
Cool moment- the band played Jelly Belly for the first time on The World is a Vampire Tour. It emerged seamlessly from a cover of Hubble Hubble by Manfred Mann. They played Hubble Hubble differently than the original- it was a scorcher. After screaming guitars and solos, the band shifted into the drum heavy Jelly Belly. It was amazing. Jimmy Chamberlain put on a performance of speed and power. I was so happy to see this live.
Merch– I never buy merchandise at shows. They are overpriced normally and I already have enough. Well, now I can say that I “rarely” buy merch. I couldn’t resist the light blue zip up “The World is a Vampire” hoodie. It was a lot, but it was totally worth it. I may just be a little cooler now.
My only drawback from the show was the opening. While I do enjoy The Everlasting Gaze and Doomsday Clock, the mix was just off. It was fuzz heavy and nearly drowned out Billy’s voice. If I was there and didn’t know these songs, I would have had no clue. It would simply have been a wall of noise. Thankfully, that quickly changed with a Talking Head’s cover followed by an amazing performance of Today. And, then a non-synth version of Perfect…..oh, and then Disarm…. oh man, did it good after the opening:)
Will I see them again? Of course, next time they come around. Billy said that they recorded new music at the end of last year. Hopefully we will hear that soon and they will embark on another tour next summer!
The Everlasting Gaze
Once in a Lifetime
Bullet with Butterfly Wings
Hubble Bubble (Toil and Trouble)
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