The Smashing Pumpkins at Climate Pledge Arena in Seattle, WA

Melancholy and infinite happiness turned Seattle’s Climate Pledge Arena into the ultimate 90s alternative dance night with Jane’s Addiction and The Smashing Pumpkins.

The Spirits on Fire Tour with alternative rock icons The Smashing Pumpkins, Jane’s Addiction, and opener Poppy arrived in the Pacific Northwest at Seattle’s Climate Pledge Arena. It’s been years since The Smashing Pumpkins and Jane’s Addiction performed in the area and fans of all ages were ready to get the 90s party started.

Kicking things off in their black boots was the art pop and YouTube sensation, Poppy, who wasted no time trying to warm up the crowd of about 11,000. Poppy jumped on stage and whipped her black hair like a mini windstorm. Poppy’s music was a mix of electronic, pop, punk, and ethereal metal. The artist made full use of the stage singing her most popular songs “Breeders” and “BLOODMONEY” and tried to command the attention of the stubbornly seated crowd. Towards the end of her 30-minute set, there was a sweet interaction between Poppy and a young super fan who danced and sang every lyric to the artist. 

During the stage changeover, the crowd started to chant “We Want Jane! We Want Jane!” just as the house lights went dark. Seattle fans may not be known for dancing, but they have broken records for yelling at Seahawks games. The 12s brought the noise (which sent many scrambling to find earplugs) as one by one, the members of Jane’s Addiction popped on stage. Led by their iconic, glam alt-rock vocalist and founder Perry Farrell, followed by original bassist Eric Avery, and drummer Stephen Perkins, it’s been over a decade since the L.A.-based band has performed together with its original lineup. However, guitarist Troy Van Leeuwen would have to fill in for Jane’s original guitarist, Dave Navarro, who is still recovering from long Covid.

The band opened with “Kettle Whistle,” the title track to the 1997 album. Farrell, who has a flair for working the stage, prowled back and forth with a flirtatious grin dressed in a matching black leather suit with silver adornments and long black fringed leather gloves. Farrell, the constant entertainer, took his time in between songs to speak to the crowd. For the set’s second song, he welcomed to the stage the three Jane’s Addiction dancers (one of which is Farrell’s wife, Etty Lau Farrell) for “Whores.” The stage lights switched to red and a large LED screen illuminated behind the three dancers on a catwalk. Each of them wore tall, white, feathered headpieces, and white lace bodysuits with long white tassels. They elegantly twisted and contorted their bodies over railings and each other, and hung upside down from the catwalk. It was a fascinating display of choreographed gymnastics combined with performance art and burlesque.

Drummer Stephen Perkins was perched up high from the stage, on a riser that just sat below the catwalk. Farrell climbed up the stairs to sing next to him while golden lights flashed like laser beams across his kit and the dancers posed on chairs in the background. There was a remarkable playfulness between all of them and not a person missed a note, a beat, or a step.

Farrell took a moment to speak to the crowd about the band’s history of reunions and collaborations, and particularly his love and respect for fellow artists, Red Hot Chili Peppers (RHCP). In 1997, RHCP’s bassist Flea toured with Jane’s Addiction for their reunion tour. This led to the introduction of RHCP’s guitarist, Josh Klinghoffer, to the stage to perform with the rest of the band for the evening. Fans danced in the aisles and happily sang along to the late 80s radio hit “Jane Says” followed by more favorites from the band’s debut album Nothing’s Shocking. Farrell paused the show to check on the well-being of a fan up front and then continued to speak again to the crowd. After commenting on how good everyone looked, he paused poignantly to talk about Andrew Wood of Mother Love Bone. A roar came from the crowd followed by silence as several fans lifted their cell phones. The stage lights dimmed and only a single spotlight shined on Farrell as he mentioned the beautiful mountain views he could see from his hotel window. The crowd roared again as everyone knew “Mountain Song” would be next. Jane’s set for the evening concluded with the band’s No.1 hit “Been Caught Stealing” from 1990’s Ritual de lo Habitual.

After a short intermission, it was time for Chicago-based The Smashing Pumpkins to rock the stage. Founded in 1988 by frontman and guitarist Billy Corgan the band’s current lineup is pretty close to their original with James Iha (guitars), Jimmy Chamberlin (drums), Jeff Schroeder (guitar), Jack Bates (bass), and Katie Cole (keys, backing vocals). The arena went black with only a few spotlights in blue and white moving back and forth. A five-pointed star appeared followed by a huge white moth-like butterfly with the initials S.P. on its body. Multi-colored beams of light shot from the glowing star-like laser beams across the arena for several minutes before the shadows started to emerge from backstage. Fans screamed as Corgan walked to the front of the stage and pointed to the crowd. Wearing a long black robe, black boots, and green and gold face paint, Corgan spoke into the microphone “Hello Seattle, we’re The Smashing Pumpkins, let’s rock!”

Starting off with some of their biggest hits “Empires,” “Bullet With Butterfly Wings,” and “Today.” Corgan didn’t move much onstage and sang mostly with his eyes closed and head down. He would later reveal to the audience he was fighting off an illness and probably shouldn’t be singing, but “he was going to anyway.” Corgan joked that he sounded like Leonard Cohen and when he briefly sang a chord from “Hallelujah,” you could hear the hoarseness in his voice.

There were several surprises in their set such as a cover of The Talking Head’s “Once in a Lifetime” and an eye-shocking laser show during Chamberlain’s drum solo before “Solara.” Not too many words were spoken to the crowd with the exception of a thank you or two from Corgan and Iha. Their set was simple and, for the most part, with the only stage changes being on the screen behind them. Some creepy dolls on crosses were rolled out for “Ava Adore” which made fans in the audience turn to each other with a confused look. The highlight of the evening came during the set’s only acoustic moment for “Tonight, Tonight” when cell phones were raised and waved throughout the air. Corgan encouraged the crowd, “This is your time to sing” and it seemed everyone did, as clearly, Corgan was about to lose his voice. The Pumpkins finished with “Cherub Rock” and “1979” from the band’s earlier albums, Siamese Dream and Mellon Collie And The Infinite Sadness. 

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