Tour Tales

Smashing Pumpkins Oceania Tour: New Tastes & Old Classics In Boston

Smashing Pumpkins Oceania Tour: New Tastes & Old Classics In Boston

Last Saturday, Boston University’s Agganis Arena was filled with the sounds of the Smashing Pumpkins on their somewhat exclusive Oceania Tour. Billy Corgan, the voice behind some of the most moving music of ‘90s grunge, was joined on stage by current band members Jeff Schroeder (rhythm guitar), Mike Byrne (drums), and Nicole Fiorentino (bass). One look around, and it was clear that a common love for the music that fed everyone’s angst during their formative years was what brought this colorful medley of fans together.

Last Saturday, Boston University’s Agganis Arena was filled with the sounds of the Smashing Pumpkins on their somewhat exclusive Oceania Tour. Billy Corgan, the voice behind some of the most moving music of ‘90s grunge, was joined on stage by current band members Jeff Schroeder (rhythm guitar), Mike Byrne (drums), and Nicole Fiorentino (bass). One look around, and it was clear that a common love for the music that fed everyone’s angst during their formative years was what brought this colorful medley of fans together.

The band didn’t just play most of the songs off their seventh studio release, Oceania, they played the album in its entirety – from start to finish! How often do you get to hear a band do that? After rocking out to the first track, “Quasar,” I was pleased to hear the harmonious-grungy hybrid I loved so much in classic Pumpkins with “Panopticon,” and “The Celestials” definitely had more of a pop-rock vibe. While the next few songs were undoubtedly impressive, that portion of the show reminded me that I was listening to a new album by a semi-foreign band. The second half of Oceania, however, really seemed to pick up with some killer numbers. “Pale Horse” was a beautiful song with a full, moving sound. Nicole Fiorentino’s vocals really shone through in concert with Corgan and gave me chills. Next, there were smiles ear-to-ear while watching Corgan wail on the guitar at the end of “The Chimera,” and plenty of swooning during Oceania’s closing ballad, “Wildflower.”


The band itself was rock-solid, and all players seemed to enjoy their work together. The visuals were also pretty neat: a white LED globe hanging center stage that projected a new video concept for each song, accompanied by a full spectrum of lights. Upon making my way to the very front row to snap some photos, I noticed Billy’s T-shirt was a few sizes too small, but overall, he was just like I would have imagined him. Even watching him lay down new songs that lacked the nostalgia factor, I felt the same warmth in his guitar playing that I recalled in the songs my heart knew so well.


Luckily, we weren’t left the entire show sans some hits. After wrapping up Oceania, the band broke into a sweet cover of David Bowie’s “Space Oddity.” However, it left me even hungrier for some classic Pumpkins tunes. I mean, if they had time to cover Bowie, they had time to play the hits, right? As if intentionally playing with us, the band answered back with the unexpected and heavier song off Mellon Collie and the Infinite Sadness, “X.Y.U.” and gave the crowd a genuine taste of that old school grunge we loved so much in the Pumpkins as Corgan screamed out, “And into the eyes of the Jackyl/ I say ka-boom!” And, that hardcore guitar work pierced our eardrums. Then, hits began to flow with “The Killer in Me,” “Tonight,” and “Bullet with Butterfly Wings.” But, “Tonight” was particularly poignant, with a creative reprise prefacing the song itself and visuals from the band’s famous George Méliès-inspired music video dancing on the giant globe over head.  


Next, Corgan took a break to chat it up the audience and “catch his breath.” How this was actually accomplished, I’ll never know. He rambled about a lot of things: from Halloween costumes, to the fact he’s a Chicago Cubs fan (this was met with a unified booing from the audience of Red Sox enthusiasts), to how Nicole Fiorentino is a bona fide “Western Masshole,” although she told him she was from Siberia during band auditions to get the gig. He then introduced “A Song for a Son” as “not a hit, but maybe a bathroom-break song for some, or a cocaine song – whatever you want it to be, you can find in this song.” It was a beautiful rendition, written for “Bill Senior.”


After gracing the audience with an all-time favorite, “Today,” the band left the stage, and then returned for quite a satisfying encore of hits: “Ava Adore,” “Cherub Rock” and “Disarm.” I was most pleasantly surprised to hear “Ava Adore,” which is probably my favorite Pumpkins song – that chorus with its gothic imagery!


An afterthought: In a perfect world, Saturday night would have transported me to the mid-‘90s to see the band complete with James Iha, Jimmy Chamberlin and D’arcy Wretzky, as they played all the gems from their original catalogue. But I will take hearing Billy Corgan play his new album and the top hits with his new band any day. The band sounded amazing, and I feel my life is a bit fuller having seen Corgan up so close, shredding on guitar. Now that I’m back home, I have all the time in the world to break out my old albums and relish the rarities.


 Photos by Melodysiac © 2012

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victor

October 30th, 2012

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