The Smashing Pumpkins
Amalie Arena; Tampa, FL • July 25, 2018
by Jen Cray
It’s 5:30 pm and I’m still in Orlando. Still at work. Still 2 hours from the Amalie Arena, according to Google Maps, and the dreaded red lines just keep stretching. I woke up with a vicious cold, too. Really, all signs point to me NOT going to this concert tonight, but… it’s The Smashing Pumpkins.
Scratch that, it’s The Smashing Pumpkins with 3/4 of the original band members playing a fan’s dream list of songs that hit both the MTV era and the deep cuts that showcase the band’s wonderfully weird side. So, I’m gonna put this enormous glass of wine in me to numb the pain of both the sickness and the day (Don’t worry, I’m not the one driving) and I’m gonna pray to the highway Gods that I-4 won’t be a total rock blocker.
When Billy Corgan steps out, solo, with an acoustic guitar and opens the show with “Disarm” while a photo slideshow of his baby pictures play behind him, all is worth it. What follows is over 3 hours of nostalgia and artistry. The career-spanning setlist taps into the earliest days of Gish and the monumental Siamese Dream, and leisurely dishes out moments from the eponymous Mellon Collie & the Infinite Sadness. There are long, strange trips of Corgan’s mad genius that stray close to losing the audience — you know, those bathroom break moments when the band hasn’t played a knowable “hit” for about 5 songs (somewhere around the two hour mark), but those lulls serve merely as breaths in between moments of exaltation.
And the choice of songs to cover! Oh my! Who would have the balls to cover David Bowie (“Space Oddity”), Led Zeppelin (“Stairway to Heaven,” no less!), and Fleetwood Mac (“Landslide”) let alone to tackle all three in the midst of an already marathon set? I’ll tell ya who, the same band that would slip in a recorded video of freakin’ Mark McGrath serving as a Vaudeville announcer! Sugar Ray woke up one morning and it wasn’t a halo hanging from the corner of his four post bed, but instead, it was a top hat and some clown makeup. It was so weird, it was brilliant.
Actually, that about sums up the whole Shiny and Oh So Bright Tour. The Smashing Pumpkins return to glory, pairing Corgan once more with original bandmates drummer Jimmy Chamberlin and guitarist James Iha (and guitarist Jeff Schroeder and the bassist who is “Not-D’arcy” ), who weird but brilliant. And that’s pretty damn perfect.
View the full gallery of Jen Cray’s photos: The Smashing Pumpkins.