"Pumpkins concert in Vancouver"
December 9, 1996
By: Cathy Maestri
Smasing finish saves dispirited set after a Pumpkins singer is struck by an object.
It didnt go according to paln but the Smahsing Pumpkins used its encore to wrench out a challenging set Monday night at the arrowhead pond. The show was the first of four rescheduled Souther california dates postponed after the July overdose death of tour keyboardest Jonathan Melvion and the resulting dismissal of drummer Jimmy Chamberlin.
There wasn't much in the way of drama, but the showserved as somewhat of a metaphor for the way thingshave been going for the Chicago band. Singer Billy Corgan was enjoying himself, a wide grin making him look like an oversized cherub. Then, what appeared to be a jacket came flying form the crowd, lashing Corgan across the face.
The injury was to the bands spirit.
Corgan and guitarest James Iha reasoned witht he crowd and the show continued, but the Pumpkins neverregained the fire which it began. Filters Matt walker has been filling in on drums and the Frogs' Dennis Flemion played keyboard, but the band's core is cleary Corgan, bassi D'Arcy and te lanky Iha. They seemed to struggle to even finish the night; the main set was an hour and i took anotherdotted wiht breaks to haltingly finish up. Whatever elevatedthe set from the ranks of the dispirited was the finale, nearl a half and hour of expirimental noise and hook seemingly borrowed from the likes of the Beatles and AC/DC. D'Arcy adjusted her amp witha glancing kick from a knee high boot while Corgan kept cheking his notes. Cyclincal noises that were initially grating eventually yeilded to a blip that sounded like a life support monitor. Corgan eventually flipped away the paper and the din somehow became soothing. When the song seemed to draw to an end Corgan and Walker tried to catch each other out, stopping and starting jaggedly. Depending upon your point of view, that sort of thing is either inspirational or utterly boring. But even those who ignored the pre show warning against body surfing were finally stilled and dumbstruck. The show was a far cry from the bands acoustic tour of small venues earlier this year, though both showcased the double album"Mellon collie and the Infinite Sadness" Dividing the treatments makes more sence after seeing the fullfledged rock arena production. There's so much more going on with the music and lyrics that its easier to examine the different levels seperatly. Instead of regurgitating the usual angst,Corgan captures the ebb and flow of emotion. His voice was a controlled yell on "Where boys fear to tread" and a scream on "Zero". On one song a line or even a word would be gently rounded and turn deadly sharp; later in the night a snarl would turn soft. Everything seemed to be played a notch or two faster. The band also plaed arouns with arrangements, breaking songs in new places or stripping down for a few bars to add an even more mottled texture. But even at an accelerates pace,"Tonight Tonight maintained its symphonic feel. Corgan had switched to acoustiv guitar for "Thirty Three" but never finished after beng hit. But when the next song"Disarm" started with "Disarm you with a smile..." Corgans face was drawn and tight. Garbage opened the show-no coinicidence, since drummer/sampler Butch Vig produced the pumpkins' break through album "Siamese Dream."
Scottish singer Shirly Mansonn provided both physical punch and vocal shops, her voice at once strong and feminen enough to stand up to the gritty sample-pop and sharp hooks. The band-which is getting ready to recordits next album-will go furtherin the same direction, judging from a new song slipped inot the set.
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