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Smashing Pumpkins
A Concert Review

October 5, 1996

The Rosemont Horizon

Rosemont, IL

A Review by
The Dude on the Right
So, there I am making my way to my seat at the Rosemont Horizon for the Smashing Pumpkins show and I notice that I'm getting old. Sure, there were some parents there sporting Infinite Sadness tour t-shirts, but it was a dad with his family and I couldn't tell if he bought the shirt to be "cool" for his kids or if he was really a fan. Me, I was there for a few reasons. First, it's my job to let you all know what to expect from a show whether I'm a fan or not; second, other than some of the parents, I think I was one of the few fans there who doesn't have a copy of "Mellon Collie and the Infinite Sadness," but I did listen to my copy of "Siamese Dream" as show prep and remembered the Pumpkins are kinda cool and I do kinda like them; and three, I heard conflicting reports about a Smashing Pumpkins show and was determined to find the truth - if only for this nights performance. See, I've heard that the Pumpkins are the best band in the world and they put on one hell of a show. I've also heard that their live show is kinda a downer compared to their recorded stuff because Billy Corgan's voice is lousy live. Hmmm. I needed to find out the truth.

So, I'm sitting there and the lights go out - it's time to get up - this wasn't going to be no sit down show! I see some movement on the stage, the crowd is starting to go nuts, and then I hear this cool piano sound, a slightly mellow opening, almost making me seem a little sad. The lights kinda start to flash like a thunderstorm, and then, pardon the boring reviewer comment but it's all I could come up with, the stage erupted into musical mayhem that showed this wasn't going to be a show to sit back and rest. I'm told the musical opening was that of the instrumental opening from Mellon Collie, but don't quote me on this (feel free to correct me). And then the show continued.

As I listened, I realized that there are really two separate lives for this band. Yes, it was true that Smashing Pumpkins sound different live than the recorded stuff you buy in the store. You all know what that sounds like - it's the stuff you've seen on MTV and heard on the radio. But live, now that is where the show begins. As for Billy's vocal talents, your CD kinda shows a somewhat refined voice - trying, and usually but not always succeeding in sending out a message. See them live and it's an entirely different ballgame. On stage there was an intensity that I don't think can be captured on a CD - here there was only one chance to get it right. Billy's kinda crazy, kinda devilish, but this night he and the band knew they were home, back in Chicago where it all began, and it was almost like the entire band was trying to say "hey, mom, remember when I said I wanted to be in a rock and roll band and you said 'shut up and do your homework' - well, I made it, we made it." That story may not be true, but the real truth is yes, they made it.

It's funny, I never pictured this band with a personality for a live show. I guess that's hard to explain, but I guess I just figured them to stand behind their microphone stands and scream some lyrics into their mikes. I was wrong on this count for sure because they have a definite personality, one that tries to reach everyone in the crowd, and that is what I think makes a band a talent. D'arcy on bass smiled, Mr. Iha, the guitar dude, played for the people, and Billy worked the crowd with the best of them by flashing his devilish grin, waving to them, and with comments that let the fans keep this band for their own - comments like "The show is slightly unprofessional, but we're home so it doesn't really matter" during "1979" with the "solid-gold dancers" and other comments how even some people from Chicago don't know they are one of the city's most successful home-town bands. And you know, he even made lyrics in songs take on new meanings, such as during the screaming/singing of "Believe" during "Tonight, Tonight." Through the troubles this band has had lately, the word took on a different perspective, but one thing was for sure - this crowd never stopped believing.

For the entire show things were sometimes serious, sometimes goofy (alright, I know Dennis "Frog" Flemion from The Frogs took over on keyboards, but things got really weird when Frog bandmate Jimmy came out in full green costume with wings and was all over the crowd - literally) but always intense.

Now, a couple of encores and the band came out for one of the longest band jams I have seen in a while. I was a little confused, but Billy set me straight commenting how he loves the end of the show, not because it's the end, but it's where the band can put the commercialized stuff behind them and just play. Cool. The band was intense, Billy went from sometimes being profound to sometimes being silly, but thanked everyone for staying past the MTV hits.

In looking for a band that would put on a good show, I found one. Varying from orchestral instrumentals to an intensity level enough to burst a blood vessel, I will say that for this show, the Smashing Pumpkins took me on a ride. And as the extended band-jam was coming to a close Billy said - "We are, have been, and always will be the Smashing Pumpkins." That they are.

TWO HUGE THUMBS UP! That's it.

That's it for this one, I'm The Dude on the Right. L8R!!

 

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