"The Spaghetti Incident?"

Set lists and a little bit of Rock

Saturday, 22 March 2008

Sweetman not so sweet on Pumpkins

Simon Sweetman's
review of the Smashing Pumpkins Gig at Wellington's Queens Wharf / TSB Bank Arena Thursday 20 March

Twelve years ago, I watched Corgan's ego get the better of him in this same arena. He closed a fairly decent live set with just under half an hour of monotonous musical exploration. It was as if he was trying to take a deeper meaning from Lou Reed's Metal Machine Music.

This time Corgan dishes out some hits. Tonight, Tonight from 1995's faltering double album Mellon Collie and the Infinite Sadness was the first call to arms. Mayonnaise and Hummer, both from the one great complete Pumpkins album, Siamese Dream, sound close to sublime. Today is tossed out like the greatest hit that it is – Corgan leaving Chamberlin to play the groove and the audience to belt out the first verse.

At their best, the Smashing Pumpkins retain the anthemic quality that grunge was so desperate to possess – but when Corgan indulges the softer side (an acoustic version of Adore's fairly lame pop ditty Perfect) and rocks off with guitar solos that are not as good as he thinks, it is apparent that he is living in his own bubble.

A revamped version of Ava Adore showed class and energy – but the set fluctuated between joyful nostalgia and pointless faux-metal noodling from weaker Pumpkins albums – including the average-at-best Zeitgeist.

Smashing Pumpkins with Queens of the Stone Age. TSB Arena, Thursday.

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