– Words by James Villa / Photos by James Villa –
The Majestic Theater / Dallas, TX (Monday, April 18th, 2016)
I was in my mid-twenties when The Smashing Pumpkins were in their prime, and I was fortunate enough to see them a few times in an intimate venue with all of the original members.
Skip ahead to now, a new week just getting underway in Dallas as Smashing Pumpkins made their return to the city. It had only been about nine months since their last visit, but that was just long enough for fans to be hungry for more; and with it being an acoustic/ electric set, I was really looking forward to the Monday night affair at The Majestic Theater.
Seconds after the lights dimmed out came Billy Corgan dressed in a dark grey two-piece suit. A lone light shone on him, which illuminated only half of his body. The stage was empty as he started to sing. Corgan played the first three songs — “Cardinal Rule”, “Stumbleine”, and “Tonight, Tonight” — alone, with little banter mixed in between.
Guitarist Jeff Schroeder made his way on stage and joined Corgan for “The World’s Fair”.
There were several highlights throughout the evening. One was his tribute cover of David Bowie’s “Space Oddity” which brought tears to a few eyes in the audience, including my own. This was followed by Liz Phair singing along on “Thirty-Three” off Mellon Collie and the Infinite Sadness.
The rest of the band made their way on stage as Corgan jokingly referred to the “Siamese Suite” portion of the show as the “vintage”. He quickly recanted by stating how much he hated the word “vintage”. “Mayonaise”, “Rocket”, “Today” and Corgan’s keyboard solo of “Disarm” highlighted the “Siamese Suite”.
Corgan’s vocal tone went from laidback at times, to aggressive and unsettling. This was apparent as the crowd went from captivated to sequestered within the span of two or three songs. “Saturnine” was the height of Corgan’s radical yet retrained behavior. It was that aggressive snarl and Corgan’s ever-changing demeanor that turned me into a loyal Smashing Pumpkins from their inception, and even after all this time and all the wear and tear he has put on his voice, those qualities haven’t been diminished.
As great as all of that was, one of the best moments featured Katie Cole on vocals. Earlier she had lent her voice on Hole’s cover “Malibu”, but the best was yet to come. I had heard rumors throughout the day that the band would be covering “Tush” by ZZ Top, and for once, my sources were correct. With its up-tempo presentation Katie was not only able to truly re-engage the audience, but she also solidified her role with The Smashing Pumpkins. Never before has Corgan enjoyed the luxury of having a strong yet non-threatening centerpiece that truly complimented his haunting and at times overpowering tone.
The band closed out the evening with a cover of “Angie” by The Rolling Stones. When the set ended, Corgan stayed on stage for a brief moment as if to just take in and embrace the moment.
I, for one, was completely satisfied with the set list of the evening. Usually one cover will suffice, however on this occasion five somehow wasn’t enough. The way Corgan and company pulled out five and yet were still able to keep to crowd interested says a lot.
If you’re having doubts about attending any of the remaining date on this tour, don’t fret. The two and a half hours of music is simply too irresistible to pass up
Corgan solo, acoustic
The World’s Fair (Billy Corgan song)
Corgan and Schroeder on acoustic guitars
Space Oddity (David Bowie cover)
Thirty-Three (with Liz Phair)
Jesus, I / Mary Star of the Sea (Zwan cover)
Mayonaise (full band now)
Disarm (Corgan solo on keyboard)
Sorrows (In Blue) (Billy Corgan song)
Identify (Natalie Imbruglia cover)
Stand Inside Your Love
Lily (My One and Only)
Malibu (Hole cover) (Katie Cole on Vocals)
Tush (ZZ Top cover) (Katie Cole on Vocals)
Angie (The Rolling Stones cover)