Wednesday, May 22, 2024

Concert Review: The Smashing Pumpkins at Broward Center

If you have difficulty keeping up with the latest shenanigans of Billy Corgan and company then you’re not the only one. The Smashing Pumpkins have certainly had more than their fair share of trials and tribulations amongst a plethora of internal problems over the span of the group’s history, which unbelievably covers almost three decades. They’ve survived a constant revolving gaggle of band members, with one sole permanent survivor—Corgan.

(Photos by Ron Elkman)

This weekend, The Broward Center in Fort Lauderdale was the seemingly inapt venue for the alternative rock band’s final show of its “In Plainsong” tour. But, supported by indie singer-songwriter Liz Phair, the setting was actually ideal for this concert.

Even with prior warning of the show being more of an acoustic/electro nature, I was still slightly unprepared for the four opening songs being played entirely solo by Corgan, who had wandered onto the stage a little earlier in a grey suit and hat, barely being noticed by fans.

The sound, however, was pretty spectacular, considering it was just one musician for the first segment. Corgan’s powerful acoustic guitar playing and unmistakable voice were enjoyable and thought-provoking across cuts like “Tonight, Tonight”and “Stumbleine,” but they did lack the familiar full-band luster. Those expecting to hear the aggressive, sprawling thrashing of a typical Pumpkins concert would have been disappointed during this portion.

An earnest cover of David Bowie’s “Space Oddity” saw the introduction of talented touring guitarist Jeff Schroeder, who added a somewhat classical element to the rendition and songs that followed. The atmosphere changed frequently along with the backdrop. With four artistic settings, the group managed to affect the ambience considerably, with subtle yet well-designed lighting effects.

After playing songs from “Adore” and “Mellon Collie and the Infinite Sadness,” Corgan announced that “Siamese Dream” songs were coming up, and proceeded to slam an audience member that was wailing out the name of his favorite hit, “Disarm.” “There’s always some stupid person, shouting out stupid things at every show,” he remarked.

The remaining members of the touring group, Katie Cole, Sierra Swan and, much to the delight of the crowd, original band member Jimmy Chamberlin, took their spots and treated the fans to a section of seven songs from the popular “Siamese Dream” album. “Spaceboy,” “Today” and “Soma” were particularly memorable, inducing the dreamy, nostalgic moments one would hope for. As it turns out, Corgan finished this segment with an interesting solo organ performance of “Disarm” which reminded me that I should have been in church earlier that Sunday and every Sunday prior.

Thankfully the band plugged in the power (at least for Schroeder’s guitar) and for the remainder of the show performed as one might expect. At one point, Liz Phair joined the stage, as well as Corgan’s niece, Ava, to add to the harmonic values. Rousing covers of Bob Dylan’s “Knockin’ on Heaven’s Door,” and the Rolling Stones’ “Angie” were particularly well done.

When “1979” was played with vigor, the whole theater rose to its feet (for the first time that night, I might add). This was a far cry from the last “Smashing Pumpkins” concert I saw, which was standing-room only: You had to be seriously concerned with the odd flailing foot to the head.

On the whole, this show was an oddly artistic and interesting experience—a subdued beginning with a crescendo of an ending. The predictably unpredictable Corgan leaves me wondering what he will be up to next.

SET LIST

Cardinal Rule

Stumbleine

Tonight, Tonight

The World’s Fair

Space Oddity (David Bowie cover)

Thirty-Three

Jesus, I/Mary Star of the Sea (Zwan cover)

Mayonaise

Soma

Rocket

Spaceboy

Today

Whir

Disarm

Sorrows (In Blue)

Eye

Saturnine

Identify (Natalie Imbruglia cover)

1979

Stand Inside Your Love

Pinwheels

Lily (My One and Only)

Knockin’ on Heaven’s Door (Bob Dylan cover)

Malibu (Hole cover)

The Spaniards

Angie (the Rolling Stones cover)

John Thomason
John Thomason
As the A&E editor of bocamag.com, I offer reviews, previews, interviews, news reports and musings on all things arty and entertainment-y in Palm Beach, Broward and Miami-Dade counties.

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