The Smashing Pumpkins are greeted with open arms as they bring the Shiny and Oh So Bright Tour to their hometown crowd.
The first of two nights in Chicago for The Smashing Pumpkins was sold-out as the fans gathered eagerly to see three-quarters of the original lineup together on stage for the first time since 2000. It was worth the wait as they were given a three-hour set filled with songs spanning their catalog, including from the albums Mellon Collie and the Infinite Sadness, Siamese Dreams, Gish, and Adore.
Whilst it is being referred to as a “reunion” tour of sorts, this isn’t the full original lineup, with D’arcy Wretzky being the missing member. Not only was she not on stage, she was also noticeably missing from the original music video clips being projected onto the large screen at the back of the stage throughout the show. Mind you, the fans seemed more than happy to see Billy Corgan, James Iha and Jimmy Chamberlain sharing the stage once again. It was great to see the chemistry is certainly very much still there between the three bandmates. Throughout the show, James Iha’s guitar solos were greeted with an arena full of cheers, and Jimmy Chamberlain more than made his presence known from behind his drumkit which was nicely positioned towards the front of the stage, ensuring the fans could get a good view of him. James was given the spotlight as he took to lead vocals for a beautiful “Blew Away,” although as has been mentioned at previous shows on this tour, it seems unfortunate that many of the audience chose this moment for their bathroom break. It also did not go unnoticed that fans were heading to the door before the encore, as the show kept going until almost midnight.
Despite this, the sparks were flying in this electric performance. It was a magical thing to see Billy and James trading licks throughout the show. Not only did they perform hit after hit from their own extensive back catalog, but they also busted out some impressive covers including Fleetwood Mac’s “Landslide” and David Bowie’s “Space Oddity.” Both received a rapturous reception from the hometown crowd, however, it has to be said that the Virgin Mary shrine which made its way through the crowd on the floor during their rendition of Led Zeppelin’s “Stairway To Heaven” did distract slightly from the performance.
At 51 years old, it is great to hear Corgan’s voice sound as great as it always has. Throughout the show, he has the audience in the palm of his hand; one finger point in the direction of the crowd and you would hear a returning cheer erupt from that direction. This was a high production show which was as visually pleasing as it was audibly. The screens at the back of the stage took you on a walk down memory lane with the old footage, along with childhood videos and photos of Corgan himself.
It might have been expected that something different would happen during this show for the home crowd, but instead, they performed the same setlist as they did at previous shows on this tour. That did not take away from the obvious emotional link the band have with the city, often mocking each other about which parts of the city they lived in, and discussing which deep-dish pizza is the best. “Tonight, Tonight” is always going to be a fan favorite to be performed in this city, as the audience sing along loudly about “the city by the lake.”
It was an impressive 31-song set filled with hits, that many bands these days might struggle to do. The fans may have waited so long for this to happen they likely thought it never would come to fruition. But it did and looking at the smiles on people’s faces throughout the night and as they filtered out into the late night, the wait was worth it.
Photos By: Jake Barlow