Earlier this year, rumors began to swirl that Billy Corgan was “getting the band back together” to borrow a phrase from The Blues Brothers. Although the Smashing Pumpkins frontman had always continued to tour and record with different musical configurations under the same moniker, this loose talk concerned the four original members: Billy, drummer Jimmy Chamberlain, guitarist James Iha and bassist D’arcy Wretzky. A career-spanning inspired tour would also follow it.
Fans greeted the news with equal amounts of trepidation, excitement and a decidedly wait and see attitude, given Corgan’s repeated and very public disdain for all things nostalgic. Well, fast forward to now. After trading barbs with D’arcy in interviews and social media, the four soon became three which certainly helped to deflate some of the original intent. But lo and behold, the Shiny and Oh So Bright Tour landed at Chicago’s United Center this past Monday for the first of two performances with 75% of the band intact, aided by longtime Pumpkins-friendly guitarist Jeff Shroeder and bassist Jack Bates (son of New Order’s Peter Hook).
Considering all the lead-up confusion and a frontman who isn’t big on looking back, Corgan most decidedly did not seem like a guy who was phoning it in. Over the course of 31 songs and nearly three hours of music (focusing on the Pumpkins most popular music from 1993-2000), he physically threw himself into every solo and was in surprisingly good voice. Of course, he’s always had Chamberlain as his backup foil, but the addition of Iha certainly added undefinable chemistry that has been missing from previous versions of his touring bands. So what happens to the Smashing Pumpkins from here moving forward? Best to leave that one up to the Vegas oddsmakers.
-Concert photos and words by Curt Baran
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