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Smashing Pumpkins with Metric – PPG Paints Arena – 8/4/2018

By Dave Kasiorek

Lights. Camera. Smashing Pumpkins. The show put on by the Smashing Pumpkins at PPG Paints Arena on August 4th was one of theatrics, precision, and finesse. 30 years into their musical careers they did not dissapoint. While the set list was dominated by most of their early work there was also some cool cover songs and other fan favorites.
The show kicked off with a starry illusion like intro video that played on a thin screen, center stage. After a few minutes of some wicked graphics that played on the screen a sudden darkness enveloped the stage until a bright white light shined through an opening. There stood Billy Corgan as the crowd roared and he mysteriously walked out in the spotlight alone with his acoustic guitar. The set opened with “Disarm” as Corgan displayed how one man can take over a crowd with studio like clarity in his voice. Flashes of a young Corgan through his life as a child and then becoming a performer played on screen. Soon after, the stage went dark again and the rest of the band, inlcuding founding members James Iha and Jimmy Chamberlin, who with Corgan have not toured together since 2000 rolled out their gear on stage and began to jam. Rocking out to some of their more heavy material from the first few records on songs like “Siva”. Then came the costumes! During the groups first cover of the night (David Bowie’s, Space Oddity) Corgan wore a tunic like dress that reflects light as he walked along a bridge that sat behind the band as they played. Corgan waved his arms around as he majestically blended with images of space on screen behind him. Were on to break number one. On screen comes a character who resembles a carnival shouter who tells you whats going on throughout the night of the show.
Part two of the set knocked you straight in the face with heavier songs by the group, “Zero” and “Everlasting Gaze”. Following the rockers it was time to slow things down to a more serious and darker tone. With songs like “Eye” (from the movie Lost Highway) as the crowd hummed in unison as Corgan turned the microphone to the thousands of chanting fans. Ending part two of the set was “Soma” a slow and darkening tune that erupts with hard riffs near the end to send off our carnival friend on screen for a second time.
Sticking with the slow vibe at the start of Part three to a great show thus far, out comes Corgan with a piano at center stage with a shifting screen that moves far to the left. Playing songs like “For Martha” and “To Sheila”. The background lighting was really impressive here and almost gave a space like vibe as ballerinas danced on the screen to the left. The next wave of covers flourished through the speakers that echoed through the arena. Smashing Pumpkins version of “Landslide” (Fleetwood Mac) was a crowd favorite as they sang along in harmony. Corgan back on piano, played the opening riff to “Stairway To Heaven” (Led Zeppelin) hearkening an eruptive crowd response. As they played through the well known classic a prop of a casket being carried by priests with a bright ghostly statue well lit on top walked through the isles of the arena. As the casket disappeared into the darkness behind the stage the band roared into “Cherub Rock” to close out part three of the show.
“1979” sent fans into a frenzy to start part four. As the band continued to display great finesse and Corgan continued to display his power as a frontman30 years later, the audience was full throttle and ready for more! What better than to start the pounding of the drums in “Bullet With Butterfly Wings” and a crowd that sings word for word sending great vibes to the band as they play on. We end part four of a rather long set with the dark grooves of “ Muzzle” and await the encore.
New song “Solara” chugs away as we kick off the encore to a fantastic and well rehearsed concert that gave fans what they came for. Great music and a great show – and a long set. Ending the night was a stripped down acoustic cover of Bette Midler’s “Baby Mine” as Corgan wore what looked like a futuristic pope like garb.
Throughout the show there was one thing that was evident. The Smashing Pumpkins have come to play just as hard, just as great, and with just as much power as they did (if not more) than they did 30 years ago. It was one heck of a show to see and had a well balanced set list of harder rockers to slow moving tunes which made it a show fit for all ages and musical minds. If you get the chance to see this tour, go! You will not be disappointed.