Story & Photos by Andy Lyons, Editor-in-Chief
The lights dimmed on the Sprint Center Thursday night and some of the most iconic album art from the ‘90s flashed across the screen to the tune of solemn organ track, and fans were transported to the good old days. The crowd erupted to the girls from “Siamese Dream,” and again for “Mellon Collie and the Infinite Sadness.”
As Billy Corgan took the stage alone for an emotionally charged rendition of “Disarm,” the realization was made. The Smashing Pumpkins were in Kansas City. Nearly 20 years in the making, the “Shiny and Oh So Bright Tour” featured original lineup of frontman Corgan, guitarist James Iha and drummer Jimmy Chamberlin. They’re joined by guitarist Jeff Schroeder, keyboardist Katie Cole, and bassist Jack Bates.
The Pumpkins made their way through more than 30 songs over the course of three hours, the show included pre-recorded interludes featuring Sugar Ray’s Mark McGrath dressed as a vaudevillian performer to joke and make introduction. The setlist focused heavily on the band’s first five records, and Corgan had plenty of help singing from the throngs of fans on tracks such as “Thirty-Three,” and “Tonight, Tonight.”
The show included several covers the group has become known for, including David Bowie’s “Space Oddity,” Fleetwood Mac’s “Landslide,” and Led Zepplin’s “Stairway to Heaven.” The crowd roared and pulled their weight on the vocals – Corgan made a habit of pointing to the crowd to turn over singing duty during the show.
Throughout the set, the tempo flowed consistently as the group played an amazing mix of their hits with an ebb and flow that didn’t feel forced, with plenty of ups and downs so fans had a chance to sit and enjoy for slower tracks such as “For Martha,” and were ready to explode for the heavier music a la “Cherub Rock.”
Huge video screens were moved across stage behind the group that consistently evolved from static set pieces to video screens, displaying different videos from across the years to specific imagery for each track. Notably missing, from the tour and the screens, was original bassist D’arcy Wretzky who had traded headlines with Corgan in the buildup to the tour about her absence from the group and future projects.
Touted as a reunion tour, Corgan, Iha, and Chamberlin made up stage center, with the three gathering around Chamberlin’s kit throughout the set and giving fans that sense everything is right with the world – the trio has recently recorded the first original lineup Smashing Pumpkins music with legendary producer Rick Rubin.
Hearing the original lineup made for a meaningful night for everyone at Sprint Center, especially those who cherish those five albums cherry picked for the tour. The show tapped into the nostalgia engulfing pop culture, although it never felt forced or inauthentic. The return of Smashing Pumpkins gives fans a taste of the past, as well as something to look forward to with the forthcoming album.
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