Smashing Pumpkins Live @ The O2 Arena

February 16, 2008
By David Sinclair, The Times

The last of the grunge goliaths, Smashing Pumpkins finished off the somewhat troubled British leg of their comeback tour with a titanic display of force and finesse.

Earlier in the week an undersold show at Nottingham Arena was abruptly curtailed when the band left the stage without explanation after completing just two-thirds of their set. In London however, where The O2 Arena was full to its 20,000 capacity, the group performed for a solid two-and-a-half hours, at such sustained extremes of volume and intensity that the effect was by turns euphoric and draining.

Having broken up the original Pumpkins in 2000, the singer, guitarist and songwriter Billy Corgan has, since 2006, been leading an artfully
reconstituted version of the group. Only the drummer, Jimmy Chamberlin, remains from previous incarnations, but the new members - the guitarist
Jeff Schroeder and the bass player Ginger Reyes - looked and sounded like doppelgängers of the members they have replaced (the new keyboard player, like her predecessors, was irrelevant to the great majority of the songs performed).

They came on like a troupe of circus performers, the tiny Reyes strapping on her bass over a red tutu, while the 6ft 3in Corgan, bald head glowing like a full moon, towered beside her like a vampiric stilt-walker in a layered, gold, ankle-length skirt.

The show began with Porcelina of the Vast Oceans, a song even more majestic and expansive than its title suggests. The musicians sailed through gently drifting guitar arpeggios and into mountainous seas of power chords and crashing waves of percussion. Ramping up the assault with a barrage of white strobe l ighting, they travelled deep into the metal zone with Superchrist,
a high-velocity showcase for Chamberlin, who seems to have turned into the new Keith Moon, before romping into the insanely catchy riff and chorus of (Come On) Let's Go! from their current album Zeitgeist.

There were moments of comparative tenderness, notably when Corgan sang their biggest hit, 1979, accompanied only by his own acoustic guitar. But for most of this very long show, they were so hardcore that it hurt. Ending with United States, Corgan bellowed his demand for a revolution amid a cacophony of howling feedback and battered toms.

Still smashing, in all senses.

London Set List
Bring The Light
Tonight, Tonight
Try, Try Try
C'Mon Let's Go!
The Rose March
Stand Inside Your Love
Ava Adore
Bullet With Butterfly Wings
That's The Way (My Love Is)
My Blue Heaven
The Everlasting Gaze
Car Crash Star
United States
Lips Of Sugar
Cherub Rock

Review stolen from The Times, photo by Steve Bateman exclusive to R*E*P*E*A*T

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