The Smashing Pumpkins + City Riots – Big Top Luna Park (16.10.10)

As I entered Luna Park’s Big Top, I have to say I got a little bit excited. Growing up, The Smashing Pumpkins were one of my favourite bands. Even now, I would rate ….Infinite Sadness and Siamese Dream among my all-time favourite album list. Sure, Billy has been a bit inconsistent when it comes to his music over the last decade or so – but deep down, you can’t help but love the guy. And it’s that love he returned, with a set that clocked in at almost 2 and a half hours, running through a good mix of new and old.

But first up, Adelaide’s City Riots were given the honour of supporting the rock icon. I’d never had the opportunity to hear the hard working rock band in a large venue, and I have to say, they sounded better than ever. The set, which included the catchy single “She Never Wants to Dance” just got better as it went along – and by the time they brought it to a close, they left the packed out room wanting more. Definitely jump at the oppertunity to see these guys – although judging by tonight, the bigger the room, the better the set!

Arriving on stage several minutes early, Billy and friends, aka The Smashing Pumpkins, wasted no time, launching into new tracks “The Fellowship” and “Lonely is the Name” as the stage landscape was revealed to include two beautiful windmills – both aesthestically pleasing and a part of the impressive light show!

It was the third track “Today” which got the crowd pumping – much to Billy’s disapproval “You know, it’s not nice to clap louder for that song than the one before…” – although anyone who takes those sort of comments seriously doesn’t know Billy. There’s enough sarcasm in his voice to know that he’s not serious – well, maybe he means it to some degree, but at the very least he doesn’t harbour a grudge against us.

“Ava Adore” was the first highlight of the night for me, it came early on and absolutely killed it. This was The Smashing Pumpkins as I remembered them – pure rock and roll. But you know what? The new stuff actually sounds fantastic, too. Sure, it’s got nothing on the old, but that’s just a matter of personal preference (and childhood memories…), not a matter of quality. Indeed there were the highlights, but there honestly wasn’t a dull moment in the set.

As the set continued, Billy humorously digressed with a laugh and a smile, “Thank you for listening…. The Smashing Pumpkins will be out next.” Indeed, it may not be The Smashing Pumpkins we grew up with, but as we enjoyed stellar renditions of “Tarantula”, “Tonight, Tonight”, “Cherub Rock”, “Zero” and “Stand Inside Your Love”, as well as an incredible jam in the form of “United States” (which included a solo by 20 year old drummer Mike Byrne – an interesting choice to replace Jimmy Chamberlin, but damn was he a gun), it really doesn’t matter. As Billy proclaims in the 17 minute or so set closer “Gossamer” – “We Ain’t Going Anywhere”. And you know what Billy? We don’t really want you to.

Also worth mentioning, was the encore opener – “Get Free” with special guests Craig Nicols and Ryan Griffiths of The Vines – with Billy on supporting vocals and guitar. It was pretty unexpected, and definitely left the crowd with a “how cool was that?” look on their face.

Setlist:
The Fellowship 
Lonely is the Name 
Today 
Astral Planes 
Ava Adore 
A Song for a Son 
Drown 
As Rome Burns 
United States 
Bullet With Butterfly Wings 
Spangled 
Stumbleine 
Cherub Rock 
Zero 
Stand Inside Your Love 
Shame 
Freak 
Tonight, Tonight 
Tarantula 
Encore:

Get Free (with The Vines) 
Gossamer 

Larry Heath

Founding Editor and Publisher of the AU review. You can follow him on Twitter @larry_heath or on Instagram @larryheath.