The Smashing Pumpkins took Toronto on a nostalgic rock journey during their Acoustic Electro Evening at Massey Hall. With double album Mellon Collie and the Infinite Sadness turning 20 years old last summer, front man Billy Corgan has reunited most of the band to not only celebrate their legacy but to embrace a new era for the Pumpkins.
With a musical catalog stretching over 25 years, the musical evolution of The Smashing Pumpkins has yet again to evolve. One of the foremost alternative bands of the 90’s, the Pumpkins have never really been shy when it comes to experimenting with different elements of sound. Two decades after their commercial peak, 20 million albums sold solely in the United States, the Grammy Award winning band has been selling out arena’s ever since.
So what could Billy Corgan possibly do next to mix things things up to avoid turning into a golden oldies jukebox artist? What this creative genius does best, of course. Invert the traditional formula by touring first! And what a better way to start a new chapter then to go back to the the very beginning where it all started.
First, subtract the heavy distorted guitars from the equation. Add original guitarist James Iha and original drummer Jimmy Chamberlain into the mix. Then take the inspiration from the sounds explored in the new acoustic setting to the studio to record a brand new album. Alas, In Plainsong tour showcases some of the Pumpkins most iconic songs in raw form.
Emerging from a nocturnal abyss, Billy Corgan took center stage in front of a blossom tree-lined backdrop hued in red. Accompanied by only his acoustic guitar, Corgan opened the show with the new song, “Cardinal Rule”, followed by “Stumbleine” and a stripped down “Tonight Tonight” that had Massey Hall singing along and cheering on the frontman.
Jeff Schroeder joined Corgan on stage for David Bowie cover, “Space Oddity” adding hypnotic flourishes of Spanish strumming that had the audience on their feet in applause. For the next song Liz Phair joined Corgan on stage to sing the backing vocals to “Thirty-Three.”
Corgan and company kept the audience guessing from electronic beats of “Eye” to fan favourite “Saturnine” with Chamberlain on drums. The highlight of the night was the next set that Corgan referred to as the the “Siamese Suite,” featuring “Mayonaise” and “Soma” from 1993’s Siamese Dream. One of the most memorable moments of the night included a full band performance of “1979,” which had the crowd on their feet once again, singing along to every word from start to finish.
The Pumpkins performed a Rolling Stones cover of “Angie” to finish off the evening with a one-song encore.
Upon completion of the tour, The Smashing Pumpkins are planning on taking this acoustic experience to the studio to record their next album. Exposing the artistry behind his songs, Corgan has stripped down the melodies layer by layer to unveil the beautiful complexities that lie behind his songwriting and distorted guitars. Just another way Billy Corgan delivers the purest form of identification of his creative genius.
Photos by Mike Fowler – https://www.flickr.com/photos/msfowlerarts/sets/