Singer Billy Corgan was his usual theatrical self. Photo: Ryan Fleisher/Special to the AJC
Many of the Pumpkins’ songs revolve around themes of isolation, depression and anger. The dynamics of the lyrics and the musical crescendo, sliding in and out of quiet reflection and impassioned rage, make “Siamese Dream” and “Melancholy and the Infinite Sadness” staples to anyone who came of age in the mid ‘90s.
And those were the songs the crowd wanted to hear.
Drummer Jimmy Chamberlin rejoined Corgan in 2015, so some fans may have heard the Pumpkins’ roar with half its foundation in place. But when James Iha walked on stage Sunday night, the crowd erupted. It had simply been too long and many in the audience likely never heard the band at its peak.
Corgan has covered “Space Oddity” at previous shows, including one in the Atlanta area in 2013, but after David Bowie’s death the song took on the tone of homage and goodbye — another theme the songwriter loves. From the top of a staircase, dressed in a silver cape with a hood, Corgan with his back to the audience faced the screen like an astronaut staring into the abyss of space itself. He sang perfectly, channeling Bowie for anyone who’d missed him.
The arrival of guitarist James Iha on stage thrilled fans. Photo: Ryan Fleisher/Special to the AJC
A man of few words at many of the shows, Corgan preferred on Sunday to address the crowd via pre-taped videos with multiple visions of himself speaking out of synch. The effect was a disconnected feeling, considering the man hadn’t bothered to say as much as hello, good evening or thanks (he did say “thank you” after playing “For Martha,” which was the fourteenth song of the set).
Butterflies flew across the backdrop as “Soma” raged and ballerinas danced in graveyards during “To Sheila.” The crowd rose to its feet every time a “Siamese Dream” song started.
If you’ve never seen The Smashing Pumpkins, go now and buy tickets. The band brings more than nostalgia to its lengthy set. These guys are longtime friends and musicians who’ve made up for more than just the money. They are juxtaposing past and present while still trying to make sense of just who they are as individuals. The journey continues with shows in Miami and Tampa, Fla., before heading north again for Baltimore, Philadelphia, Boston and New York among other cities.