Grunge icons Smashing Pumpkins brought the Shiny and Oh So Bright tour to the American Airlines Arena in Miami, last July 24, 2018. A line-up made of original band members Billy Corgan (lead vocals, guitar) James Iha (guitar, vocals) and Jimmy Chamberlin (drums, percussion) recently reunited and they are taking the stages for the first time in nearly 20 years, occassion which coincides with the 30-year anniversary of the band’s formation. The band is further supported by Jeff Schroeder (guitar), Jack Bates (bass) and Katie Cole (keyboards, guitar, backing vocals). The opening act for the Pumpkins on this tour is Metric, an alternative rock band out of Canada and formed in the late 90’s, and they had a solid warm-up set, preparing the eager fans for what was to come.
When the lights came down, signaling the beginning of the band’s set, the crowd stood up in a deafening roar as Bill Corgan appeared on stage – wearing a familiar wardrobe of a black/gray skirt and black long-sleeve shirt with a crossed out 0 on the back – and snatched the first notes of the fan favorite, “Disarm” from his acoustic guitar, accompanied with visuals of photographs of his childhood showing on the enormous LED screens behind him. From the get-go, Corgan’s trademark guitar-playing drove the night into course, as he embodied the paragon of true grunge shredding, giving the audience the chance of savoring the band’s innate rock’ n’ roll foundation.
The night was nostalgic trip, taking everyone back to a time when things mattered in a different way as they do today, and further served as an ode to Smashing Pumpkins‘ first five LPs: 1991’s Gish, 1993’s Siamese Dream, 1995’s Mellon Collie and the Infinite Sadness, 1998’s Adore, and 2000’s Machina / The Machines of God. The humongous setlist of over 30 songs was sprinkled with several covers, some more surprising than others. The first one was “Space Oddity” of David Bowie fame very early in the set. As the night progressed and the band got more into their groove, they ventured into Fleetwood Mac‘s “Landslide”, previously released as a b-side on the single for Disarm, with a somewhat loose arrangement that came together half-way thought the tune and had the crowd singing along. Another highlight was the tremendous rendition of Led Zeppelin‘s “Stairway to Heaven”, a spot on interpretation with the wrenching guitar solo played note for note just like the original. This moment was accompanied by a processional around the floor of an idol carried by what appeared to be monks or druids. The song ended with the entire arena belting out the final lyrics, “and she’s buying a stairway…….to heaven” at the top of their lungs.
From that moment on, the whole venue was ecstatic, responding with thunderous ovations to fan favorites like “Cherub Rock”, “1979”, “Today” and “Bullet with Butterfly Wings”. The overall experience was deeply enhanced by a clever use of the extra large led panels simulating an endless myriad of individual stage sets. The images playing in the background helped set the mood for each song.
The Smashing Pumpkins awesomeness infused night finally came to a close with an encore of “Solara” – the band’s first song to be released after their reunion this year -, and a surprising version of Betty Noyes‘ “Baby Mine” with Billy Corgan downing a Nutcracker-like soldier costume and Jimmy Chamberlain leading the song on a ukulele. I can safely say that regardless of what you paid for your ticket, you got your money’s worth. It is not everyday you see a band willing to play for over 3 hours, and revisiting all their timeless songs with such painstaking care. All in all, this Smashing Pumpkins show, 18 years in the making, was not only shiny, it WAS extremely bright.
The Smashing Pumpkins Set-list
Disarm / Rocket / Siva / Rhinoceros / Space Oddity (David Bowie cover) / Drown / Zero / The Everlasting Gaze / Stand Inside Your Love /
Thirty-Three / Eye / Soma / Blew Away / For Martha / To Sheila / Mayonaise / Porcelina of the Vast Oceans / Landslide (Fleetwood Mac cover) / Tonight, Tonight / Stairway to Heaven (Led Zeppelin cover) / Cherub Rock / 1979 / Ava Adore / Try, Try, Try / The Beginning Is the End Is the Beginning / Hummer / Today / Bullet With Butterfly Wings / Muzzle / Solara / Baby Mine (Betty Noyes cover)