Smashing Pumpkins Rock Hard at iHeartRadio Show in New York
The Smashing Pumpkins rolled into New York’s intimate iHeartRadio theatre on Tuesday night (June 19) for a concert celebrating that day’s release of their new ‘Oceania’ album looking relaxed, refreshed and ready to rock. And that’s exactly what they did right off the bat, opening with a cover of the KISS classic ‘Black Diamond,’ complete with Pumpkins drummer Mike Byrne handling Peter Criss’ vocal part.
From there, frontman Billy Corgan and the band took a step back into 1995, busting out hard-hitting versions of ’Mellon Collie and the Infinite Sadness’ singles ‘Zero’ and ‘Bullet With Butterfly Wings’ back-to-back, with the slightly listless crowd finally showing signs of life in time to communally sing “Wanna go for a ride?” for Corgan as he leaned away from the mic during the memorable ‘Zero’ line. It was as if some voodoo rock force willed everybody in the crowd to suddenly join the party.
“I heart you,” he announced before the next tune, and considering the selection — the ‘Siamese Dream’ classic ‘Today’ — the crowd seemed apt to believe him. Corgan, who must’ve been playing ‘Today’ for approximately the 10,000th time, showed no signs of boredom as he led the current Pumpkins lineup — drummer Byrne, bassist/singer Nicole Fiorentino and rhythm guitarist Jeff Schroeder — through the tune with paint-by-numbers precision and more than a little passion.
With a hint of the iconic back catalog out of the way, this is where the energy is expected to wane. But somewhat surprisingly, as the Pumpkins continued on with a passage featuring the first three songs off ‘Oceania’ — ‘Quasar,’ ‘Panopticon’ and ‘The Celestials’ – both band and audience rocked on. It certainly helps that those three tunes manage to hold their own within the band’s canon. The psychedelic ’Quasar’ almost sounds as if it could be an outtake from their 1991 debut, ‘Gish.’
After a somewhat hesitant and unnecessary stab at David Bowie‘s ‘Space Oddity,’ the Pumpkins left the stage for the requisite dramatic pause before returning for their encore, which kicked off with ‘Cherub Rock,’ the lead track and another classic from ‘Siamese Dream.’ That brought up the energy again, which carried over for ‘X.Y.U.,’ a sprawling, super trippy tune off ‘Melon Collie’ driven by a fierce guitar riff almost bordering on metal. With that over, Corgan and the band exited the stage, leaving the sonic maelstrom of a feedbacking guitar in their wake.