On June 19th, The Smashing Pumpkins released their ninth studio album, Oceania, after streaming it online for a week. The band, of which Billy Corgan is the only original member, also stopped by the iHeartRadio Theater in NYC to perform a 10 song, 55 minute set to 200 lucky contest winners and VIPs.
The Smashing Pumpkins consist of Corgan on vocals and lead guitar (as always), Jeff Schroeder on rhythm guitar, Mike Byrne on drums, and Nicole Fiorentino on bass. Each member is more than proficient on stage, and from the first notes played, it was clear the audience was in for a treat. Opening with a cover is something that lesser bands wouldn’t dare even think of, but The Smashing Pumpkins pulled it off perfectly with a heavy cover of Kiss’ ‘Black Diamond’. Byrne took over the lead vocals on this one with Corgan and the others providing backing vocals. The band then launched into three classic tracks – ‘Zero’, ‘Bullet With Butterfly Wings’, and ‘Today’.
Everything sounded as tight as ever, though nearly every song was sped up just a tad from their original recordings. At this point Corgan announced that the band would be playing the first several tracks from Oceania in a row. This came as no real surprise to anyone, given that he’s said that the album is a concept record and that he would like to play it in full at all the bands shows. Corgan seemed in a jovial mood the entire night, and when someone up front requested a specific song from the new album, he quipped “You guys aren’t ready for that yet” and smiled. At another point during the set, he exclaimed his love for New York, but noted that he didn’t love New Yorkers before admitting that he was teasing. The band closed out their set with a heavy and psychedelic cover of David Bowie’s ‘Space Oddity’ and walked off stage.
When the band returned for their encore (rare at these types of shows) they delivered a heavy performance ‘Cherub Rock’. Despite this being the last song on their setlist for the night, Corgan decided to give the fans there (some who had been lined up since the morning hours) another song – a seething, venom filled ‘X.Y.U.’ which stretched to almost 10 minutes long live. With that, Corgan thanked the crowd and the band followed him offstage. This was truly an incredibly experience to witness one of the all-time greats of alternative rock play such an intimate show, and when the band returns for a full tour, it will surely be in a venue at least ten times as large as this one.
Smashing Pumpkins setlist
1. Black Diamond (Kiss cover)
3. Bullet With Butterfly Wings
8. Space Oddity (David Bowie cover)
9. Cherub Rock