Review : Smashing Pumpkins @ Sheffield O2 Academy

It was a special night. Not only because I was catching up with a friend I haven’t seen in 18 months, but because it would become the third time I’d see The Smashing Pumpkins, first time out of Mexico.

An early time at the doors meant we had first row (a bit to the left, though). Nevermind, first row is always cool and the security people kindly gave earbuds and glasses of water for us in the eyesight of the massive speakers.

Ringo Deathstarr opened the night. Their fuzzy shoegaze was chunky and slightly poppy. Although they looked a little somber, you could see them smiling quite a few times and they always thanked the public. ‘Some kind of sad’ is the catchy one, making you think of sunnier, warm days long gone by. Fuzzy and sweet set.

Previous experiences with The Smashing Pumpkins had been strange. The Palacio de los Deportes show in 98 was mostly Adore (a lovely album) and the 08 Coca Cola Zero Fest had fantastic stuff with ‘Hummer’, ‘Tarantula’ and ‘SuperChrist’. The sound, however, hadn’t been that good. First row and a very solid sound meant that the experience could be better this time around.

Without making people wait too long, the band entered the stage, to a lot of applause. Two tracks from the upcoming Oceania (‘Quasar’, ‘Panopticon’) set up the spirits. Out of the two, ‘Quasar’ takes the cake, it’s such a great opener, but ‘Panopticon’ is well intertwined with it.

The crowd bore faces old and young. As a spot of “thank you” to old fans and a “hey, we also recorded this, check it!” to the young ones, several classic songs were played. Not many radio hits, mind you (barring 3, none of them were radio/video singles), but songs that fans de hueso colorado (hardcore fans, eh) love to bits. ‘Thru the eyes of ruby’, ‘Geek USA’ (great drumming by Mike Byrne), ‘Silverfuck’ (loved the layered guitar attack by the end) and ‘Muzzle’ (the one I love from MCIS) were all well received.

Well mixed between those well-worn and beloved songs were a couple of new ones from Teargarden by Kaleidyscope. I never rated ‘Lightning strikes’ that much, but watching it live (loved the light show too) was a whole different beast. It was strange, I also never gave the time of day to ‘Window paine’ but watching it live, it’s a keeper.

The magic moment came with the song ‘Oceania’. My friend had just listened to it earlier during the day (gracias, archive.org) and so did I. “Mesmerising” and “trippy” were our adjectives. ‘Pinwheels’ is cute and catchy, ‘Pale Horse’ is slightly sombre, a good opposing point of view to the good nature of ‘Pinwheels’.

It has to be mentioned that Mike Byrne‘s drumming is real, real good. That dude does know how to bang a drum with style. Equally stylish is Nicole Fiorentino‘s bass playing, which in some songs was just an amazing fretboard mastery (I’m looking at you, ‘Siva’ and ‘Geek USA’). Jeff Schroeder is pretty good and his use of sustain in a couple of songs (‘Soma’, yeah!) added an extra voice to both old and new songs. A very loud voice.

And of course, we gotta talk about Billy Corgan. An underrated guitar player (can’t remember seeing him in any of those “greatest guitar player” lists. Heck, haven’t seen Dean Deleo either. Where’s the love for them?). His solos never fall into self-indulgence and they gel together with the rest of the band. Best of all? He smiled. A lot. Not smirking, but true, happy smiles were drawn on the fella. His “aw, shucks” look at the end when he was saying thanks to the fans at the end was pretty funny.

Oh, and the encore consisted of ‘Bullet with butterfly wings’ and ‘Zero’. Perfect-o.

It was a show of memories. Good memories of the past being played again (‘Soma’! ‘Thru the eyes of ruby’!), good memories made up by reacquainting what you’ve ignored and has been there all along (I’m so sorry, ‘Window paine’. I love you) and the best of all: new good memories being made (don’t be a stranger, ‘Oceania’).

Fantastic show.

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Words: Sam.

Ringo Deathstarr Facebook. Twitter. Last.fm.

Smashing Pumpkins WebsiteFacebookTwitterSpotify.

Random: My friend got a guitarpick. I’m genuinely jealous of her. 

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