Billy Corgan´s sick and funny blues

After splitting up in 2000, Smashing Pumpkins came back during 2007. It was about time to see one of the band´s that marked my teenage years, together with Nirvana or Guns & Roses. 

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One guy from the organization tells me inside the Ice Hall in Helsinki that it is not possible to go down, to the area in front of the stage, since the tickets are sold out. Not true as I can see with my own eyes seconds later while sitting, since only around 2/3 of the venue´s capacity is filled with people waiting to see Smashing Pumpkins in its come back Tour.  It seems that the attraction for seeing half of the original formation (only Billy Corgan and the drummer Jimmy Chamberlin remain, since Melissa Auf der Mar and James Iha do not participate) is not enough for many old fans. It is a long time ago of the band´s peak on popularity terms, when appearing even in a Simpson´s episode… but the fire still burns. The group released recently a new album: Zeitgeist.

Undoubtedly, the Tour has Corgan as main star. The charismatic bald leader of the band jumped on stage wearing a shining silver long skirt, moving his tall body ungainly, and putting the Finnish public step by step into his pocket. At the beginning, the interaction with the audience was practically non-existent, with the band focused on playing, and Corgan must have felt surprised of the traditional coldness of the public, that behave quieter than in other countries, since he dedicated a couple of ironic sentences like “I don´t want anybody dying of excitement today here”.

But step by step, the concert started to warm up. A great help to that was listening to old great classics like Tonight, Tonight or Bullet with Butterfly Wings. The audience was eager to scream shouts of love for Corgan, and he answered effusively back, overall to the female voices…   Billy was not enjoying his best healthy day, since he recognized to be sick, coughing often between songs, and that lead to an improvised blues whose main line was “I am sick” and ended up with “I am foul”, for splashing the audience finally with the raw truth: “I am fool, but I have more money than you!”. After that, as a great special gift to compensate us, Corgan still alone on stage, played a superb acoustic version of 1979 that was probably the highlight of the night.

The band sounded well and compact in general. It was delicious to see the new bass player, Ginger Reyes, tiny and skinny, rocking with a bass that was almost of bigger size than her. A special mention for the lighting part of the show, well done and sophisticated enough to create the perfect climate in every song. Smashing Pumpkins sounded strong, sometimes even as hard as a heavy metal band, and Corgan and cia left a very good final taste in the mouths of the audience with more than 2 hours of good rock, a balanced mix of old and new material and great anthems like Drown, The Rose March, Bring the Light, the explosive Superchrist or the tender Lily (My One and Only).