"Smashing Pumpkins Entertainment Centre"
By By Teresa Bolster
(Thanks to BCorgan4SP@aol.com for typing this out for us)
Billy Corgan has painted a portrait of himself, for the media's ingestion, as the ultimate prince of melancholy. "I'm in love with my sadness," he sings on "Zero" from Mellon Collie and the Infinte Sadness. Remarkably, the darkest of images and Smashing Pumpkins' darkest of sounds has provenmore than palatable enough for popular comsumption. If commercial status of the Pumpkins was ever in doubt, their extremely well-attended shows on the Grand Prix weekend emphatically silence any hesitations.
Billy Corgan was in full pop star mode, adopting all the right poses and exuding confidence. The more intense, more sombre and inescapably louder the Pumpkins delivered, the more deliriously the crowd lapped it up. The audience on Friday were no slouches in the volume department--at times, the roar of approval at the opening bars of favourite songs was more ear splitting than anything Billy, James, D'Arcy, and Jimmy could muster. The security staff earned their pay packets, frantically trying to control the moshers on the floor as well as over-excited fans jumping from the balconies to the mosh pit.
Dressed in the same outfit featured on the Mellon Collie inner sleeve (silver pants and "Zero" t-shirt), Billy Corgan delighted the already infatuated crowd by thanking us for making the Pumpkins' third album proper more successful in Australia than in the whole of Europe. It was good to be back in Melbourne once again. "Last time we opened for Bjork. We were really happy about that," he said, dripping sarcasm. James Iha acknowledged the influence of Australian bands on the young guitarists, name-checking AC/DC. the Easybeats, Men At Work, and incredibly, the obscure duo, Flash and the Pan.
Playing with an intensity they refused to wane for over two hours, the Smashing Pumpkins proved that they are definitely 'a band'. Corgan claims that virtually all of Siamese Dream was played by himself, but has given the due credit to his friend for the creation of "Mellon Collie." Their live show suggested that this is true. Iha was particularly enjoyable to watch, alternating between five guitars, including a flying V. None of his songs were played though, with Corgan taking the lead on all the vocals, almost screaming himself hoarse at one stage. Bassist D'Arcy remained cool throughout, barely raising a sweat or a smile.
With a new(ish) 28-track album released since their last visit, it was fairly predictable that the Pumpkins would concentrate on Mellon Collie and the Infinite Sadness. "Tonight, Tonight", "Zero", "Fuck You (An Ode to no one)", and "Here is no Why" were dramatically and intensely performed with the Pumpkins then dipping into Siamese Dream.
Before the show began, a film featuring Steve McQueen and a lengthy car-chase sequence was projected onto a massive screen, presumably with the aim of hyping the audience. It worked--three encores were demanded before the Pumpkins were permitted to retire. "Bullet with Butterfly Wings" was unforgettable, with "Disarm" running a close second in the highlight stakes. The Smashing Pumpkins proved on their last visit here that they were an excellent live band, at both the Big Day Out and the more intimate Prince of Wales show. The most fascinating aspect is watching the four quite small and ordinary looking people producing such an overwhelming sound from the intensely beautiful "Disarm" to the abrasive brutality of "X.Y.U." They are definitely one of America's finset live bands, just miserable with it.
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