Billy Corgan is a man of various phases. His support band for theevening, Gliss, are sporting Corgan’s tortured soul phase whichsurfaced during the dark mellon collie years. The LA three piece wholike totrade instrumental duties must think it’s their lucky day, there at thesamealtar as their master. It’s hammer and nails stuff which nobody’sbuying.Still that doesn’t mean politeness should go out the window which isthe onehonour tonight’s audience can bestow upon Gliss.
The question on everybody’s lips this evening is which Billy Corganwillshow up? Last we heard of him, he was a chirpier, smiley fellow withhishippie friends in Zwan. Then it ended abruptly with inter bandtensions and Corgan deciding to relinquish the helm rather than carryonsteering it. If only Robert Mugabe would grant Zimbabwe the samecourtesy.Inevitably chatter drifted to would he or wouldn’t he knock out somePumpkins numbers.
For all this futile speculation the proof was in the cold pudding ofthefoul year of valium, 1997. Corgan had declared rock dead, electronicathefuture, and produced the overlooked gem that was to begin the Pumpkins’eventual demise, Adore.
Less than 10 years later, be it to fulfill his own prophecy, Corganissuited (neo Berlin Goth chic) and booted. His stage setup sits alongthesame plain as Nine Inch Nails and Marilyn Manson shows,withapocalyptic looking keyboards and sample machines staffed by sessionmusicians who appear to be extras from Blade Runner.
The giant white multi-tiled screen spanning the stage casts vividvisualseffects which make the Corgan show more interesting than it really is.Thebeginning is a timid squall not aided by Corgan’s guitar being the onlyliveinstrument.
Corgan happily drops a few guitar masturbation fests to much aplomb,butthe new songs are too similar (and new) to provoke much of a response.Ofthe ones which did, A100′s throbbing industrial beat could have beenpickedoff any of the Pumpkins’ latter day work, as could have Mina Loy’sprotostomp. As much as it pains to admit it, the live show testifies thisisCorgan’s weakest collection of songs released (though he set the barprettydamn high).
The ones which didn’t make the grade ironically spark life towardstheend, which also seems to let out the old Billy, who engages theaudience amere hour into the set. A punky electro number is the most old schoolwe seeCorgan, and he even slipped in a new notes from Today.
All Things Change produced a show stopping moment where band andcrowdwere one with the words: “We can change the world.” OK it’s not Live8,butevery little helps. Aptly Corgan returned for the encore alone for thetender closer Strayz.
Cheered off like an old Olympic hero, the expression andconversationthroughout and after the show was pretty clear. The old athlete may nothavemany races left in him, and he certainly still has his novel and poetrytokeep him busy. This audience is just too polite to not embrace theirreturning champion.