The first thing I noticed when I walked into the brand new venue was how small it was. The theatre, recently built to compete with older medium sized venues in Adelaide, had a curtain drawn halfway, confining the floor space even more. The last time I watched the Smashing Pumpkins they filled an arena, now, as I lingered by the bar, I felt embarrassed at the slow trickle of people coming in. Perhaps punters were hurrying to make it after work, it was after all a Wednesday night. Hoping hard that the small, yet visibly dedicated crowd would thicken, I was gratefully distracted when the openers hit the stage.
Adelaide’s own City Riots were proud home town heroes- handpicked, so I’m told by Billy Corgan himself to support the Pumpkin’s entire Australian tour, and rightfully so. These boys work hard and rock harder. Fresh off the plane from doing showcases in LA, they’ve toured and made music between The US and down under for years solid. With bucket loads of talent and perfect rock-star looks to boot, they’re teetering on the edge of the massiveness they deserve, both home and abroad.
The indie four-piece filled every second of their short allocated time slot, the audience predictably reacting with the most enthusiasm to their best known song She Never Wants To Dance.
When the lights came back up for the change over, I was relieved to find myself in a comfortably more crowded room. Announcing themselves to stage with little more than a casual wave, The Smashing Pumpkins didn’t hesitate for a second before kicking their set off, waiting till after their third track Today before addressing the crowd. “I started this band in 1987” Corgan stated, establishing that the drummer and most of the front row were barely even born by then. Putting the band’s vast and varied career into perspective, he continued, questioning where the older fans were, the ones that had filled the arenas just a few short years ago. “They’re living in the past” Corgan answered his own question, explaining passionately that he wasn’t obliged to play all of his old songs, he didn’t feel the need to put every hit into every set. The sentiment was received with mixed reaction, some fans heavy with disappointment, others vocal in support of their hero playing what he pleased.
Surrounded by what can only be described as discoball-windmills, the Pumpkins breezed flawlessly through the entire show, highlighted by an amazing rendition of Standing Inside Your Love and punctuated with extravagantly long musical intermissions and a face melting drum solo. The jewel in the crown of the evening came during the encore, Corgan’s vocals haunting during their famous cover of Fleetwood Mac’s Landslide.
Even though one of my personal favourites 1979 was excluded, a victim of the back-catalogue cull, I was far from letdown. The small room had been transformed through Corgan’s wizardry into an intimate setting that showcased how personal and emotional the Smashing Pumpkin’s music can be. I should have expected no less, you can’t make it in the music business for this long without a little magic up your sleeves.