Smashing Pumpkins - or rather as they once were...

Smashing Pumpkins – Live review
Smashing Pumpkins - or rather as they once were...

Smashing Pumpkins – Manchester Apollo
Friday 11th November 2011


Pretty much how I feel after a night “watching” the Smashing Pumpkins at the Apollo.
I say “watching” because that’s what it felt like ”“ spectating on something. When I go to gigs I want to feel involved, I want a band to move me emotionally, I want to dance, sing, mosh, rock, all those things, and forget the daily drudge of life. But it seems Mr Corgan just wants me to watch him. So I watch. And I’m not impressed.

I was heavily into the Pumpkins in the early 90’s. I saw them at the International II on Plymouth Grove (don’t look for it kids, it’s not there any more) in 1992, and then again in 1994. In 92 they were amazing; flush from the success of their debut Gish, they put on a show of such creative force and energy it took our breath away. We danced, moshed and sang. They released Siamese Dream in 1993, and I caught them at the Academy in 94; not as good this time I felt, we put it down to them playing early in the evening as the gig was broadcast live on Radio 1. Still a great gig, although they were upstaged for me by a young band from near Wigan called Verve (wonder what happened to them?).

After this they released Melon Collie and the Infinite Sadness (jesus, just typing the name of that album makes me cringe; what *were* they thinking??) and I kind of lost touch with them; the album was self indulgent, and although it had some belting tunes on it, it felt kinda”¦”¦well”¦”¦prog.

Still, I’d heard they’d reformed and were touring, so for old times sake I thought I’d pop along. I’d caught Kyuss and Primus in Manchester earlier this year, and Jane’s Addiction have a new album out, Tories are back in Government so I’m basically reliving my youth here. First shock was ticket prices; £35 face value?? With booking fees and swamp tax etc I basically paid over £40. Next shock ”“ only Corgan is in the band. Seems the other members and him don’t get on anymore. Come the end of the night I could see why.

It wasn’t that they played a lot of songs that I’m unfamiliar with; I saw Primus play in July and they did similar. However, Primus’ tracks were genuinely interesting to listen to, sounding fresh, creative and emotive. The only emotion I got from Corgan was BOREDOM. I have never, ever been to a gig before and been bored ”“ but I was at this gig. At one point I even got on my phone and started checking twitter to see what was going on in the world. Why am I doing that at a gig which I’ve paid £40 to get into? Pumpkins played for over 2 hours, but only played around 20 songs; you can do the maths if you like, but I make that over 6 mins per song on average. That’s too long for rock and roll, I’m sorry but it just is. No, hang on, I’m not sorry at all, IT JUST IS. Some songs were quite short, so that gives you some idea of how long and interminable some of the numbers were.

By my reckoning they played about 50% of songs which haven’t been released yet. It takes some chutzpah to invite your audience to part with £40 to watch half a set of songs which they’ve never heard before; in my view, your songs had better be good. In my view, they weren’t. They were dull, incredibly long and involved some really self indulgent noodling from Corgan. The two openers were new songs ”“ “Quasar” and “Panopticon”; Quasar was vaguely interesting, but had a strange timing signature which, coupled with a muddy start from the sound engineer, meant that it was difficult to pick up what the drummer was doing, and resulted in you trying to concentrate on the structure of the song rather than enjoying the music itself.

The sound in general after the first song or so was excellent, heavy bass, thunderous drums, soaring guitars; the band itself, although clearly all hired hands, were technically superb. The set itself started to hit a little bit of a stride with Geek USA, but the best song of the night ”“ “Window Paine” from Gish ”“ was thrown away 6 songs into the set. “Soma” and “Siva” managed to keep the set ticking over, but it was with some dread that I watched the crew bring out a synthesiser for Corgan to press the odd key on during a couple of really interminable numbers; the result was a sound which sounded oddly eighties, but without any of the charm (now that’s saying something). I made my way to the toilet during this phase, to be met with a huge queue; when I finally made it in there, a voice from one of the stalls called out “has he finished with that fucking keyboard yet?”.

There were attempts to wrestle the night back into focus; “Cherub Rock” made a welcome appearance late on, and then it seemed that they would push into I Am One towards the end, but no ”“ they played an instrumental bit of it for around a minute and that was it. The main set finished with “For Martha”, which according to various reports on the internet is either about Corgan’s divorce or his mother; if it’s the former, then I hope his ex-wife took him for all he had, and if it’s the latter, then possibly his mother just put on a forced smile and said “that’s nice dear” when he played it to her. The encore succeeded at least in getting the crowd enjoying themselves again, finishing with “Zero” and “Bullet with Butterfly Wings”. The encore started with Corgan speaking to the crowd for the first time in the whole evening, going on about the Stone Roses at one point, and thanking the crowd for “listening to our music” and promising that they’ll tour again after the new album is released “so you’ll know these songs next time we call”. Jeez, thanks Billy, but I think I’ll give it a miss.

On the way out, myself and a friend were just looking at each other and going, “why was that so bad? Was it us?” when we heard another bloke behind us loudly shouting “THAT WAS THE WORST GIG I’VE EVER BEEN TO!” to anyone in earshot.

So no, not just us. A real shame; a band I dearly loved, who’ve written some great music in the past, reduced to an extension of one man’s ego for his own gratification. Still, he’s got my £40 hasn’t he.

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  1. I also saw them on the Siamese Dream tour in Glasgow and agree that (The) Verve upstaged them, even though I never really became a fan of The Verve. I did think Smashing Pumpkins were great that night too but have never ventured to another of their gigs as I wasn’t keen on their prog leanings on later albums. Glad I never judging by this review.

  2. Aren’t you a nice person? The song was written for his mother. Who had died at that point. I doubt you can say that you dearly loved them after not listening to, supposedly, 4 out of 6 of their catalogue from the 90s. Also, less than 50% of unreleased songs were played. 6 by my count. Dearly loved, my arse. Do some research, you bell end.

  3. This is the most ill-informed written review I have ever lead. Learn to critique constructively and articulate your thoughts clearly before getting on your high horse.

    • how did you type “lead” there? I’m not one to pull people up on typos but L is nowhere near R on the keyboard. That’s just weird. :)

  4. I went to see the Pumpkins a few years back in that vacuous pit called MEN at the time the Pumpkins played a 2.5 hours set which was much again based around Bill’s self indulgence. Last exciting show I witnessed from Billy was the Zwan show in London which was a one off in the Uk. I think it demonstrates that Billy is a mere to work with the final linch pin from the old days was Jimmy now even he has jumped ship sometimes in life you should let sleeping dogs lie it looks like this tour has stiffed in tickets sales as a number of European dates had been cancelled even the touts on e-bay have been stiffed with this tour.

  5. Oh well, you can’t please all of the people I guess :)

    I *did* love them dearly, I’ve seen them twice before and was a big fan of the first two (proper studio) albums. Mellon Collie is an act of great self indulgence, and with stronger quality control could have been a great album.

    I even did do a bit of research (faced with a barrage of unfamiliar songs) and it appeared to me that the majority were unreleased. If that’s incorrect, then I’ll hold up my hands. It still doesn’t change the fact that the songs were DULL – something which, I note, even the detractors of the article are not quibbling with. I even checked on the “For Martha” song – some on the internet felt it was about his mother, some about his divorce. If it’s for his dead mum, then I sincerely hope writing it helped him through a difficult phase. Does that mean he has to release it and continually play it live to audiences? That’s a bit like turning up at every party you attend and finishing the night wailing about how someone close to you died. It might help you but it will make everyone else feel strange.

    I saw Chic last night at the Warehouse Project and it was fooking TREMENDOUS. Now THAT was a gig.

    • The song “For Martha” was 100% written about Billy’s mum. Most of the Adore album was. And its not a song that they “play at every gig”! they havent played the song in a long time until this tour and its a fan favourite so it made a lot of people happy. But i suppose you would have to be a “fan” to appreciate it. I was at this gig. And it was mind blowing. Loved every second of it and wanted it to go on longer. The new songs were phenominal.

  6. Is this just a hop-on review for Pumpkins-bashing? because it’s about 4 years too late if so.
    Plus, bashing MCIS purely on it’s name? All I have drawn from this review is that the reviewer is by no means ‘heavily into the Pumpkins in the early 90\’s’, especially if he thinks Siamese Dream-era Pumpkins was worse than Gish era. This review is just so ineffably ignorant.

    How this writer managed to land a Pumpkins review is beyond words; describing MCIS as prog just shows an inexcusable lack of knowledge. I’d expect the writer to at least research their background material… maybe even listen to some of the music. Also, the complaint about Pumpkins songs being over 6 minutes: get a grip. Most of the classic Pumpkin songs are bordering on that length, and playing a song live is kind of different to playing the studio version, the length of songs varies.

    Also, not to complain any more (which I will anyway) disregarding an album, or even live show, solely on it’s prog tendencies is wholly ignorant. I’m at a loss as to why this writer is even reviewing music.

    • Well, I defend my right to dismiss Prog, ta all the same. Prog can suck my balls. That’s why we had to invent Punk Rock pal.

      Is MCIS that awful Mellon Collie album? I assume it is. I’ve got Gish, Siamese Dream and “MCIS” sat on my shelf at home, all bought with my own dosh, enjoyed the first two albums immensely (by the way, did I say I preferred Gish over Siamese Dream? I didn’t. But I do :)) but “MCIS”, whilst having some good songs on it, overall was not my cup of tea; and coming from a band I had been into for a few years and seen live and enjoyed myself, I was very disappointed.

      Look, don’t be too down about it, I went to see a band I once loved, didn’t enjoy myself, so wrote a review. You (maybe?) saw them and loved it – good for you! I don’t write reviews for a living, I just love music. When it engages me, anyway.

      PS sorry for being late on the hate pumpkins bandwagon – genuinely. I could have saved myself £40.

  7. Weird review. Seriously, one of the best shows I’ve been to. Well before this tour started up Corgan had said they’d be playing some of the (not yet released) new album and the set-list (and soundboards of US gigs) was readily available from a number of SP-related sites and hasn’t changed much throughout the tour.

    I guess how much you’d enjoy it depends on were you are coming from. If you haven’t seen them since ’94, haven’t heard probably more than 50% of the material and didn’t even know that the original band has been done for more than a decade, then maybe you’re not gonna like the gig? As the longest track they played (Silverfuck) is off the 2nd album (Siamese Dream), is a perennial live favourite and is ALWAYS extended in some way, well I don’t know what to say to you. They even have some longish songs on their debut, Gish and the prog influence has always been there.

    Myself, I thought the band were focused, happy and put on a great show. For Martha (off Adore) is generally regarded as one of their best songs and as the guy above said, was written about/for Corgan’s dead mother. 100% fact. Also he hasn’t played it live since 2000!

    As someone who saw them at the MEN in 2008, i agree with the guy abouve that it was a horrible, self-indulgent gig. You hated last, believe me, you’d have offed yourself then.

    • Well I am indeed glad I missed the one in 2008 :)

      I’m not quibbling with the actual performance – as noted in my review, it was top notch. The muscianship was stunning, and the sound was excellent. It was the material which I felt was poor. On the subject of long songs – my favourite song of all time is “Three Days” by Jane’s Addiction, which weighs in at 10 minutes. My point was that long songs which aren’t very good are not very enjoyable. Probably my favourite Pumpkins track is “Drown”, which is IMMENSELY long. But it’s a great track.

      If “For Martha” is considered one of their best (amongst their fanbase, anyway) then…..meh.

  8. Two songs from Gish.
    Four songs from Siamese Dream.
    Two songs from Pisces Iscariot.
    Four songs from Mellon Collie.
    One song from Adore.
    Two songs from Teargarden.
    Six brilliant new songs from Oceania.

    All of the songs are performed incredibly well. William has always been a guitar player first and a vocalist second, so it’s no wonder that there will be extended guitar breaks and solos. This is a very deep-cut, hardcore-fan setlist; I am aware, but that doesn’t make it bad. I saw them three times on this last tour in the US and have no idea what you’re complaining about.

    • It was a similar setlist at the LA show probably. Although we only had 4 Oceania songs. But as you point out, the vast majority of the songs have been released. Perhaps some people wouldn’t be familiar with the Pisces Iscariot songs, but they were released a long time ago. I think they may have played those in anticipation of the Pisces re-issue, that will come out next year (originally it was supposed to be release with Gish and Siamese Dream’s reissues).

      I absolutely loved the set that I saw in LA. My girlfriend loved it too. Although we agreed that perhaps they should have found a balance between the hit heavy setlists of the last tour and the sets they have been doing lately. As a long time SP fan, it was great to hear songs that have not been played since 1992-1995, including songs I have never heard before.

  9. Hi Jack,

    This review is a torrid piece of self-indulgent shit.

    It took you four paragraphs to actually address the concert – and you never really did.

    It seems like your whole issue with the show was that

  10. Hi Jack,

    This review is a torrid piece of self-indulgent shit.

    It took you four paragraphs to actually address the concert – and you never really did.

    It seems like your whole issue with the show was that (A) Billy Corgan used a Mellotron on ONE track and (B) that the Pumpkins have an inclination to “Prog” and you don’t like it.

    Then, in the interest of delivering a carefully researched piece to this website you try to work in some reference about the song For Martha. “according to various internet reports” and tie it back to hiding your own slander against the band, using metaphors of Corgan’s ex-wife and dead mother.

    And you pepper your review with random crowd members opinions… yet you seem to lack your own.

    You’ve tried to excuse yourself for writing this in your reply comments to people, who understandably, see through your bullshit review.

    Most websites or magazines would MAKE their reviews write the review – even if they didn’t like the concert – because they gave them a free ticket to the show.

    If you paid for your own ticket – why did you feel inspired or entitled to write this really shitty review?

    PS. If your issue was with the choice of songs – why not state that in your review… I mean, that’s what it’s actually for…

    Up Yours,

    Matt Petherbridge

    • It’s precisely because I spent £40 of my own hard earned money that I felt moved to write the review.

      Love how you think the review is self indulgent – given that’s what I was complaining about from Corgan! Seems me and Billy have a lot in common :)

  11. Unbelievably poorly written review. But at least you succeeded in outing yourself to the world as a gleefully uninformed poseur with no attention span and no real interest in music.

    You’re really going to start off by blasting the Mellon Collie record based on it’s name and some wholly incorrect notion that it’s “prog”? Were you aware it went something like 9 times platinum and is widely cited as one of the best albums of it’s decade?

    There are so many other things wrong with the review, but I don’t even know where to begin peeling the layers of that rotten onion.

    Congratulations on coming across as a buffoon. Cheers, dude.

    • Thanks! :)

      I see we’re getting into a discussion over whether Mellon Collie is a great album or not, rather than the gig itself. I don’t care how many copies it sold – Daniel O’Donnell has sold millions of albums but it doesn’t make him Bob Fucking Dylan does it.

      Loving the personal abuse by the way – keep it coming, this is hilarious :))

  12. Awful review, you couldn’t come off as anymore of a fake fucking fan if you tried. The new songs made up maybe half of the setlist and most of the songs you bitched about being too long weren’t that much longer than their album versions anyway. Some review this is. Pretending to be a real fan in order to try and make this phony review sound more legit. What a joke.

    • Glad you enjoyed it :)

      Your basic beef is that I’m claiming to be a fan. I’m actually claiming that I *used* to be a fan, which I genuinely was; bought the first three albums, saw them live twice in the early 90’s but went off them when they released Mellon Collie. Not a fan any more though :)

  13. Had you have done any research you would have known that (a) This is exactly the set they’ve been playing every night of the tour and (b) It’s not exactly news that it’s a case of Billy no/new mates.

    You’re right about the ticket price though and dead wrong about Mellon Collie.

  14. You clearly know nothing about the Pumpkins of late. Awful review!!!! 6 out of 21 songs were new, not quite 50% is it?!? Considering your last Pumpkins gig was in 94 I’d say you are a bit out of touch.

    • That’s possibly the most fair point in this whole comment section – I’m out of touch because I stopped listening to the Pumpkins in the mid-90’s. I’m bloody glad I did though! Rather be out of touch than bored shitless :)

  15. Every single point in this review is absolutely spot on. I was there with my wife and two friends, all of us massive fans of the Smashing Pumpkins in the 90s, and it was truly aweful. I bought these tickets when incredibly drunk and feeling nostaglic for the music of my youth and have never regretted spending the best part of £160 so much in my life.

    The part of this review that really resonates is that of simply watching the band. We were stood about halfway between the stage and the bar and I have never been to a gig before where there was so much talking from the people around me. The vast majority of the crowd were actually bored.

    I’ve got no problem with a band playing new stuff at a live concert to get it out there to the die hard fans; but a lot of the set list was what I can only describe as album filler. Some of the songs just dragged on and on and on….. Plus the sound was awful! I lost count of the number of times there was terrible screaching from feedback on Billy’s mike.

    So very disappointing.

  16. So you were there in the 90’s. Big deal, i don’t care.
    I can’t take this review seriously when you’re failing on the current information. What did you expect anyway?

  17. Great review and exactly how I felt about the gig although I cannot comment on the encore as I had walked out by then with many others.

    I have been watching live music on a regular basis for the past 22 years and that is the first time I have walked out of a gig early, both myself and my wife were bored and we were not the only ones, like you have commented on, all around me people were messing on mobile phones or talking by the middle of the gig.

    I went to the toilet and bar half way through the gig because of boredom and both were really busy with people were making comments like when is he going to play Tonight Tonight, 1979, Disarm and Today? As I already knew the set list, I knew that many people were not going to be happy. I understand that the fan-boys are going to defend Billy to the end but if they are honest, the set-list for this tour in America and Europe has stayed virtually the same every night so basically the band could have been playing any city in the world as each gig was exactly the same, there was no communication to the fans or individuality at this gig, except Billy using his guitar as a c*ck extension.

    Some of the new songs sounded pretty good but in my opinion the set-list was poor, Billy should have thrown in a few more well known songs to balance the new/rarer songs and what could have been a great gig was average at the very best. As I walked out of the Apollo, two people were shouting at the stewards saying they had paid £40 and did not recognise one song!

    I\’ve seen the Pumpkins before, the last times as headliners at Leeds Festival in 2007 when they were really good, last Friday they were not a patch on this performance and I certainly wouldn\’t be paying to watch this band again.

    • This applies to adebond also:

      Nostalgia, the singles, therein is your problem. Billy has said time and again that he didn’t reform the band to play a Greatest Hits set or wallow in their 90s heyday.

      I was at Leeds too and it was a good show. They played 16 songs, 6 singles (Tonight, Tonight, Zero, 1979,Today, Stand Inside Your Love, Disarm), 4 off the new album, 2 commercially unreleased, 2 album classics (Hummer, To Shiela) and 2 extended virtually unrecognizable versions of songs that are hit and miss with the fans (Glass and the Ghost Children, Heavy Metal Machine). It was a festival, so they basically had to play some well-known songs, but at least half the set-list was still stuff that wouldn’t be known by the casual fan.

      Check how often SP have played the “hits” you wanted to hear; it is a lot. In fact in ’08 they played 7 singles at the MEN (plus both singles from Zeitgeist).

      It’s about unrealistic expectations. This is why people stand around talking through a set, fucking around with their c*ck or v*g extensions (er, phones) and complaining to anyone about how awful the show was. I’m so happy I wan’t near either of you as my enjoyment of the show would have been wrecked.

      As for the “album filler” (adebond) I don’t know what to say to you. They played 21 songs. 4 were singles, 8 new tracks and 9 that are generally figured to be classic cuts (Starla, Geek USA, Muzzle, Window Paine, Soma, Frail and Bedazzled, Siverfuck, Ruby, For Martha). Even fans that are most hostile to the new incarnation of the band or hate the new music haven’t criticized the setlist.

      Here’s a checklist for future reference to avoid disappointment:

      1. have some idea what the band has been doing in recent years.
      2. if you’re going just for the big songs any casual fan knows, make sure they are actually playing them.

      • What good would the research do me? As stated up and down this page, I just felt the songs I was unfamiliar with were dull. I have no qualms at all about going to see bands playing new songs. Otherwise it’s like going to see a Comedian who tells you all the jokes you’ve seen on his DVD. Would “research” have told me that his new songs were shite?

  18. Wish I’d read this before attending the Glasgow gig – I didn’t even pay for my ticket and I resent the money I didn’t spend on it. Was bored sideways, we had more and more space around us as the gig went on as other people gave up waiting for a song they knew and went to the bar, the loo’s or home. At one point the middle of the crowd were chanting ‘play Zero bitch’ which was not so charming tbh but I feel they had a wee bit of a point, you do expect even when a band are pimping new material that a few of the older classics are thrown in to keep the crowd warmed up. In fairness there were three young lads who did appear to be enjoying the gig to the left of us but they appeared to be in the vast minority.

  19. Mellon Collie was their best selling album. If you weren’t familiar with “a barrage of songs”, it’s out of ignorance, not out of setlist planning.

    Also, it sounds like you wanted to see a punk band. Why don’t you justdo that next time instead of seeing an alt band and then whining about it? Do a little rasearch next time.

    • Well at least you could research how to spell “research” :) (sorry, I know I shouldn’t, but couldn’t resist that one)

      I thought I had gone to see an Alt band – that’s the trouble! Turned out to be a prog band. I *love* alt rock – favourite band Jane’s Addiction matey – and I used to love the Pumpkins, really I did. My beef – just to clarify for the 14th time – was not that they played material which was unfamiliar to me, I’ve seen hundreds of gigs where songs were played which I didn’t know and I still enjoyed myself BECAUSE THEY WERE GOOD SONGS. In my opinion – and, hey, it’s just that folks, an opinion! – the new songs they played (or existing songs which I had not heard before yadda yadda) were DULL. DULL DULL DULL. You can see from the reaction on here that it really wasn’t just me. I’m sure there were lots of people at the gig who enjoyed themselves; there were a lot who didn’t too. If someone wants to write a review going on about how great the gig was, fine – write it and email it to Louder Than War and they may consider publishing it.

  20. To all the “real” fans complaining about slight factual inaccuracies, who cares? Believe me, if you were there, and i notice none of the trolls appeared to be, the percentage of new to old made no difference except the crucial one, the newer it was, the shitter it was. The great thing about art is it requires no knowledge, only reaction. Martha is shit, regardless of how heartfelt he feels it to be. He should dedicate Rhinoceros to her instead, its a much beter song.( in all fairness, John Lennons songs about his mum are awful too, and Corgans no Lennon)I have to say, some of the teenagers, sorry, “fans” comments are hilarious, im slightly concerned Alan Partridge may have been involved. Now, you kids can claim to be “fans” til your balls drop, but it seems those who attended to be the most boring, self indulgent, monotonous, tedious noodling bollocks that one would want to listen to from a band that one actually likes. I like guitar solos too, the mans a stupendous musician, he just can’t write a decent song anymore, and hasnt been able to since halfway through Siamese Dream. This reviewer remembers them when they were truly brilliant, and hes not the only one. Sadly, some folks have not and now never will, Today was the greatest day we’ve ever known but it won’t be again. Not until he invites D’arcy back, anyway.

    • I’m only commenting at all due to this being the only review of the show I could find and I was really surprised to see the band getting hammered.

      I guess an element of people who would consider attending a Pumpkins gig really only like the harder-rocking first two albums (incidentally, they played 8 songs off of these, or Pisces Iscariot – the b-sides album from the same period – probably the greatest % of the set-list since ’94). With a band like SP, that has put out a shitload of material and gone through many stylistic changes, it is next to impossible to put on a show that the majority of fans will like. Hence the bitchfest. Weirdly, I’ve been to shows with people who were much bigger fans of bands (NIN, Marilyn Manson) than myself and actually enjoyed the show, not whined on the net or whatever about not knowing most of the songs, because I already knew that going in.

      Believe it or not some people bitched about SP shows back in the day too!

      No-one would argue that SP were at their best and most creative prior to the fall-out leading to Jimmy’s departure in ’96. Many fans didn’t like the big change of direction with the Adore and Machina albums (they played exactly 1 track off these btw). Few liked the “comeback” CD in 2007. Material released on the net since then has been hit and miss. Although I like the live sound of the 6 songs they played from the as-yet-unreleased new album Oceania, that could well stink too.

      People need to get it out of their heads that people who disagree with them are trolling or fanboys. It comes off as lazy and stupid.

  21. Well Done, JA, (Ja? Big reggae fan? im guessing not) Almost made a valid point but had to get a kiddie dig in at the end? When you’ve finished your exams and become an adult then you earned the right to decide whether im lazy or stupid, the last being ironic as you didnt seem to understand the point raised. How does a person hear any music initially? from a point of absolute ignorance? yes. So, if id never heard anything ever by SP (and yes, it would be dumb to spend money to see a band youve never heard of)then the newer and new should be as good as anything else. Which it was’nt.

    As were talking positions of ignorance JA, you go see this tour, review it objectively, then send it to LTW, im pretty sure they’ll publish it.

  22. I was one of those who left early – there’s only so much stone-faced fretwanking one can endure. I don’t doubt Billy Corgan’s technical brilliance or overall musicianship, nor the other band members’ – it just all felt rather joyless, toothless and loveless. Not to mention overpriced.

  23. The Pumpkins have a bit of previous with this… I saw them headline the Reading festival back in the 90s and they played over half of the set with songs from the then unreleased Mellon Collie album…
    It wasn’t a particularly bad gig, just a bit disapointing to stand there watching the headlining band playing song after song that nobody knew…

  24. My point was if you are going to charge punters £40 a time to come and watch then you need to give them what they want rather than what Billy wants and if a band is going to play 6 new songs off an album that has not yet been released then the rest of the set needs to be a greateast hits set list to keep the paying public happy, yes there will be hardcore fans who really enjoyed the setlist as it included songs that have not played live very often but it was not the time to do this with them playing a setlist of nearly a third of new material. My other point still stands that the set list has not been changed over the 20 + dates they have played and they could have been playing this set anywhere in the world. There was no indivudual feel to the gig which is why people are saying that it was just a case of Billy show boating.

    You wouldn’t go and watch say Pearl Jam and come away with not hearing Even Flow, Alive or Jeremy or go and see NIN without the playing Head Like a Hole, Closer and Hurt even if they had a new album coming out and wanted to promote?

    Sadly Smashing Pumpkins are going to lose even more fans after this tour which is sad as they have been a great band but the fact is they could only half sell out the Manchester Apollo and lots of punters walked away disppointed, next year it will be the Manchester Academy.

  25. I don’t think the initial review is particularly well written, and in places relies on exaggeration, factual inaccuracy and somewhat dubious claims. That is not to say however, that this was a great show. This was the 3rd time I have seen the Smashing Pumpkins, and a little worryingly, this was the second best show.

    As a big fan of their work throughout, I’m guessing the aim of Friday was to broadly tie in the older more psychedelic songs in their back catalogue with similar on the next album. Unsurprisingly, this results in fewer singles featuring in the set than would otherwise be the case. Ironically, a common criticism of the last tour was that there were too many singles featuring in the set.

    The problem with the set (and this tour, setlist as it is in stone) is the lack of delineation for the paying punter. I’m not someone who expects to hear singles like a concert is a jukebox, but many people are. At the end of the set Billy talked about a future tour for the new album. I think if that is the case, this would have been better used as a set all of Gish and Siamese Dream and advertised as such, kind of like Primal Scream have been doing for Screamadelica. Maybe Billy hopes that by trying to meet two different aims (the re-issue, the new album) he can escape the second tour.

    The issue of audience interaction is one that commonly comes up with SP. It was basically nil on Friday other than a few waves and pointings at select audience members. While I’m very uncomfortable with those artists who are constantly in those painful smalltalk monologues that make your toes curl, a total lack of acknowledgement is equally uncomfortable too. Coupled with the identikit setlist, when normally SP are very good at varying their sets, it is understandable that some felt alienated.

    I suspect that Billy doesn’t really like touring (the history of SP tours is pretty grim), and unlike many others in the business he won’t do the insincere sincerity onstage, instead preferring to be the captain going down with the ship. I’m sure there are many who would wish he was equally honest when negotiating the existence of any tour in the first place.

    Despite the fact that I enjoyed it in the sense that I got to see live songs that I love, I think this tour is ill conceived. Re-issues don’t really need a promotional tour (or at the least a tour of this length- Sheffield Academy? Newcastle Academy?!), particularly if another tour is in the offing, and also when the lynchpin of the band just seems so unhappy with the process.

    I know enough to know that there is something of the lottery about seeing SP live, but as a fan of their work it’s a risk I’m prepared to take. I have to admit though, there is something about Billy live that smacks of the husband deliberately dropping the crockery so he never gets asked to do the dishes again…

  26. Jack Street (and ‘She bangs the drums’), you are spot on. I went to the gig at Brixton last night – I have seen maybe 30 bands there over the past two decades, and hundreds of others in the UK and abroad, from huge stadium bands to tiny little unknowns…this was the worst gig I have ever been to. Corgan looked bored; the audience looked bored (nobody was moving, not even at the front – I mean, that is a BAD sign!); there was no interaction except for the encore (which was just weird and uncomfortable) – such a shame. Wish I had saved my cash and preserved my memories of what used to be a truly groundbreaking, breathtaking band. RIP, SP.

  27. At least you got some decent sound. The second gig at Brixton was abysmal! I don’t have a problem with a band previewing new material as long as you can bloody well hear the tunes. The mix was just unlistenable bass rumble with screaming wah-wah on the top. You couldn’t tell what the fuck they were playing for the most part? The last time I saw the was in ’93 and I felt quite cheated then as they played the whole of Siamese Dream track for track in sequence (it had been out for a matter of days so no-one knew it). As a couple of people have mentioned, The Verve blew them away on that tour, but going back to the point, the Pumpkins have always been a studio based band more so than a live act but you’d have thought after nearly 20 years there would have been some improvement.

  28. I was also very dissapointed with the gig. The atmosphere was atrocious and for a Friday night show it was really surprising for a Manchester gig to be so lifeless. I didnt see any passion in the way the songs were played and the encore was rattled off in such a shoddy fashion I was dumbstruck.

    The tickets were way over priced and £350 for a signed print at the merch stall. Come on?! Sums the night up in my opinion.

    I was so looking forward to this gig and bought tickets the morning they were released expecting a sell out show. Unfortunately I left feeling a loss of respect for the band.

  29. I went to see them at the O2 in Birmingham and i have to say it left me feeling pretty sad and disapointed. The point isn’t what they played or how long the songs went on for, or not knowing unfamiliar or new songs. The band have wrote and recorded around 150+ songs in their existence, so a 2 hour show is gonna be hard pushed to please everyone! The point is that i was watching the last remaining member of The Smashing Pumpkins and he just didn’t seem to want to be there. He looked bored and unhappy and that left me feeling the same. I guarantee that if he had been upbeat and engaging with the audience from the onset there wouldn’t be half the amount of negative reviews on here. I went to see him in London a few years ago when he brought out his solo album and he was funny and warm with the crowd all the way through and it was a great night. You would never have believed it was the same guy. It is odd how his solo gig seemed less self indulgent then this Smashing Pumpkins gig, but there you go. Unlike alot of reviews on here i feel that Meloncolie was there best album. It was where they peaked. It was still a band album, not simply a Billy Corgan experiment, and so how can a band be self indulgent? but is was the point in which they peaked. Watching him on stage i felt i was witness to a man who’s ran out of steam and cant come to terms with it and so has become bitter. That is a sad thing considering what great music he and the others have created.

  30. It was an amazing gig. Great varied setlist, amusing banter, and intense performance. 5/5 from me. Maybe we were at different gigs.

  31. I love reviews like this. Acknowledging that it’s not 1993 and then wondering why the gig didn’t seem like one from 1993. Also fitting that you heard someone claim it was the worst gig they’ve been to when you were disappointed. Only seems to happen when the reviewer is disappointed. Glad I was with the people singing along and moshing throughout, great gig.

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