Alternative rock mainstays The Smashing Pumpkins launched their “Shiny And Oh So Bright Tour” with an artful, polished spin through their lengthy discography on Thursday evening (July 12) at Gila River Arena in Glendale, Arizona.
In the band's first tour in nearly 20 years to feature founding members Billy Corgan, Jimmy Chamberlin, and James Iha, the ocassion marked the beginning of a 36-city arena run through North America this summer, produced by Live Nation. The evening served as an ode to Smashing Pumpkins' first five LPs: 1991’s Gish, 1993’s Siamese Dream, 1995’s Mellon Collie and the Infinite Sadness, 1998’s Adore, and 2000’s Machina / The Machines of God.
Clad in a familiar wardrobe of a black/gray skirt and black long-sleeve shirt with a crossed out 0 on the back, Corgan began the evening with a Siamese Dream fan favorite, “Disarm.” The lyrics were a welcomed nod to the momentous occasion as he sang, “I used to be a little boy, so old in my shoes.” From the offset, Corgan’s masterful guitar playing was at the forefront, as he displayed the epitome of true grunge shredding, relishing in the band’s real rock’n’roll roots, but also at moments moving across the stage with just the mic.
At the end of a screeching guitar solo on “Siva,” Corgan opened up his arms in a godlike pose as the crowd roared, symbolic of the figure’s cult-like following and rampant religious references.
As the group began a dreamy guitar interlude, Corgan — sporting a black cloaked hoodie — walked on top of a raised staircase platform, with gorgeous neon kaleidoscopic visuals blooming in the background. His silhouette held strong as he launched into the first of many covers throughout the diverse set — David Bowie’s “Space Oddity” — belting “Ground Control to Major Tom,” to shrieks from the crowd.
Corgan wove custom visuals into the set transitions, offering fans an installation-inspired multi-dimensional performance art piece. During one video clip, the artist appeared in black-and-white as he offered a poetic musing to welcome his misfit, outlier-leaning fanbase in the crowd: “Friends, lovers, beasts or fowl, welcome to the show — we are the fractured, the schisms, the sleepy clown, the dreams you stopped dreaming oh so long ago,” he said, before making an apocalyptic nod to the present day. “That’s why we’re here, no past, no future, no sun. Tis the end, tis the end, tis the end.”
After the ominous clip, the band surged into 1995’s classic “Zero,” a repeated trope throughout the evening’s visuals, and the third single off the band’s pioneering Mellon Collie LP. “Wanna go for a ride,” Corgan spit, as red and white stripes lit up the screens in a tone shift for the set, from hazy and nostalgic to angry, sinister.
Before launching into “Thirty-Three,” famed guitarist Iha took to the mic to welcome the crowd. “Hey thanks a lot for coming out. Phoenix, Glendale, why so hot?” He cracked. “It’s hot as hell but I like it. This next song is hot as hell.”
Giving Iha a bit of screen time for longtime fans, the program offered up a curious circus-inspired introduction from Sugar Ray’s Mark McGrath, before Iha led a run through of track “Blew Away,” the first he contributed vocals to in the group.
Despite the momentary shift, Corgan dominated as the focal point throughout the evening, accented by an array of outfit changes, from a white top hat for a heart-rending piano version of ballad “To Sheila,” to a gold, metallic-styled futuristic floor length robe on blistering “Ava Adore.” Corgan’s vocals met and surpassed his glory days on standouts including classic covers of The Dixie Chicks’ “Landslide,” Led Zeppelin’s “Stairway to Heaven” and a whopping bevy of hits including “1979,” “Today” and “Bullet With Butterfly Wings.”
To close, Corgan & Co offered up their most recent single, “Solara,” produced by Rick Rubin and released earlier this year, as well as a tender rendition of “Dumbo Song (Baby Mine)” off the 1941 Disney animated classic.
Here's the set list:
“The Everlasting Gaze”
“Stand Inside Your Love”
“Porcelina of the Vast Oceans”
“Stairway to Heaven”
“Try, Try, Try”
“The Beginning is the End is the Beginning”
“Bullet With Butterfly Wings”
“Dumbo Song (Baby Mine)”