"Columbia, SC newspaper "
Carolina Coliseum show review
Thanks to Christy Sadreameli
By Yon Lambert
"Pumpkins not as smashing as in '94"
Smashing Pumpkins frontman Billy Corgan - never one to shy from a rock cliche - uncorked a full batch for his band's show at the Carolina Coliseum Monday night.
True to form, the Pumpkins took sonic abstractions to brutal, near-poisonous fuzzed-out highs and viscerally confessional lows. But, overall, the show failed to match the Pumpkins' last trip here in 1994.
And although the band treated a crowd of more than 7,000 to a 2 1/2-hour show Monday night, the reticent crowd reflected the band's demeanor. This has been, after all, a most disturbing year for the Chicago-based band.
In May, one fan was crushed to death at a Pumpkins show in Ireland. In July, touring keyboardist Jonathan Melvoin died of a heroin overdose and longtime drummer Jimmy Chamberlain, fighting a drug habit of his own, was fired.
Those members' temporary replacements (drummer Matt Walker of the industial-pop band Filter and keyboardist Dennis Flemion of the Frogs) filled in capably enough Monday night. But Walker honestly had little hope of matching Chamberlain's once-storied drum work.
And, for his part, Corgan left little doubt that it is still he who defines this band's personality.
Decked out in his now trademark gear of chrome leather pants and black T-shirt with the word "Zero" emblazoned on the front, the 6-foot-4 bald-headed band leader cast an imposing shadow. Gone, too, was the once coy interplay among the reamaining Pumpkins - Guitarist James Iha and bassist D'arcy.
This time - instead of forcing its music to the fore - the Pumpkins used an array of lights, samples and strange stage demonstrations to serve as its primary filler. Two huge video screens butressing the stage provided a running, cartoonish display of images from gigantic blinking eyes to scenes from "Planet of the Apes."
But while they weren't leading an alt-rock circus and parodying '60s hits like "In-A-Gadda-Da-Vida," the Pumpkins still unleashed many of their most bruising blasts (including "X.Y.U." and "Zero") and dipped into some mellow lows ("By Starlight"). They also touched on some old favorites, including "Drown" and Cherub Rock."
Still, although the Pumpkins are undoubtedly the most revered alt-rock band of the moment, the openers - Garbage - proved that there is certainly room for improvement.
During the band's 10-song, 45-minute opening set, Shirley Manson and crew churned out a riveting batch of songs from their self-titled debut.
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