Review I did recently.
Smashing Pumpkins @ The RDS, Dublin. February 9 2008
Amongst the spate of reunion that the music scene has seen in the last few years, the Smashing Pumpkins stand out as an act that has undergone a ‘reformation’ rather than a reunion, releasing new material following a seven year hiatus. While some acts will come back for money spinning tours banging out the hits their audience come to hear once again, Billy Corgan and company clearly believe that they have something new to offer, that they are still a creative force in comparison with other bands living off former glories.
However, based on tonight’s performance, more specifically the set-list, the Smashing Pumpkins need to learn how to tread their line more carefully, for while the band certainly have generated good will with their audience, very few fans would go to tonight’s gig hoping for a set list overly laden with tracks from last year’s badly received Zeitgeist.
There was a palpable feeling, based on the lukewarm reception of the newer material, that the audience were willing to indulge Billy his meanderings in return for renditions of the bands earlier hits. When these come, such as stand out moments like Tonight, Tonight, Bullet With Butterfly Wings and the show stealing solo acoustic 1979 they are all too brief moments of magic in a mediocre set, the rapturous applause that greets them mere occasional punctuations in an otherwise quiet crowd lulled into muted token appreciation as they hope the band will just get the new material out of the way and play what they came to see.
The problem with tonight’s show is not just the imbalance of the set in terms of new and old material but the pacing and tempo of the entire show. The crowd are never whipped into a frenzy, as when things get good and the energy is built up amongst the fans they are brought back down to earth by another forgettable offering.
The encore saw Corgan at his most self indulgent, with overblown and overlong solos that isolated the audience and those who lost patience headed for the doors early missed the Cherub Rock finale.
Much like Zeitgeist this two an a half hour set offered more quantity than quality, a bloated mess of a show that can count a stripped down acoustic number as the highlight of an otherwise overdone effort.
Corgan’s “Best Crowd In Europe” platitudes at the end of the night are clichéd enough yet still come across as an earnest thank you to the fans, but he and the latest incarnation of his band would be better off trimming their self-serving set and realising that shows like the one witnessed in Dublin tonight are damning indictments that as a creative force, the Smashing Pumpkin’s zeitgeist has come and gone.