Surprise Concert at Metro Gives Band Chance For Some Fine-Tuning

Chicago Sun-Times - August 29, 1996

(Thanks to FraPeters@aol.com)

As a warm-up before resuming their world tour in Las Vegas, the Smashing Pumpkins played a "Surprise" concert Friday afternoon at Metro.

It was the band's first show since the firing of Jimmy Chamberlin in connection with the July 12 heroin overdoes of keyboard player Jonathan Melvoin.

And it was the debut of drummer Matt "Cosmo"Walker and keyboardist Dennis Flemion, who were warmly greeted by the crowd of about 1,000.

"It was a real treat because you were about two feet from them in this amazing little venue," said Lance Callaghan, who attended the sold-out concert. "the show wasn't anymore amazing than their Metro show three years ago. But to see them at a place like the Metro when they're really so much out of that scope now was amazing. You really appreciated it knowing everything they went through."

The Friday gig was announced on the radio at 7 p.m. last Thursday and tickets, $12, went on sale through Ticketmaster outlets.

The Pumpkins are adamant about keeping tickets away from scalpers, so they enforced a strict ticketing policy and buyers received intricate instructions about how to claim their tickets.

"I was told there was a two ticket maximum, that I would have to show my I.D., a credit card, have my confirmation number and be in line (at Metro) by 11 a.m. Friday morning and that I couldn't leave my place in line and on and on," Callaghan said. "I got there at 11 a.m. and there were already about 800 people in line."

There was no guest list, and media and VIPs weren't invited.

The Pumpkins didn't debut any new material at the two-hour show, which started at 1 p.m., but fans were treated to alternate versions of their material, according to concertgoers. Proceeds from the show went to benefit the Christmas Is for Kids charity.

The Smashing Pumpkins haven't confirmed Chicago area concert dates yet, but the group is expected to perform Oct. 4-6 at the Rosemont Horizon. the band is to play in Milwaukee Oct. 1.

Chamberlin, who has pleaded not guilty to drug possession charges, is reportedly in rehab and is to appear in court in New York on sept. 26.

In the upcoming Sept. 3 issue of Rolling Stone, band leader Billy Corgan said he sometimes wishes the original lineup could be back together again. "But...I feel I've turned a corner on it. I still believe (Chamberlin's) got God's gift. But it would take a lot of tea in China to go back to that."

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