It's been arduous to be a Smashing Pumpkins fan post-2005.
No one really believed we were getting another classic when frontman Billy Corgan reunited the band 13 years ago, but we did count on the hits, which for years took up less and less real estate at shows. With the Pumpkins' 30th anniversary this year, we finally had a tour that would speak to the golden years. The tour promised three original members (Corgan, Jimmy Chamberlin and James Iha), and a long set of songs exclusively from 1991 to 2000. But in reality, the tour was always going to be about Corgan.
At the Moda Center, Corgan's face appeared on stage screens again and again—on medieval tarot cards, in old footage, in pre-recorded screeds, and in the most embarrassing example, as the embodiment of a Catholic icon, which got wheeled around the venue like it was part of some sacred procession. A reunion tour, in theory, should be about the reconvergence of a unit. Instead, it just felt masturbatory.
The band started strong and ended strong, but spent most of their three-and-a-half- hour performance playing bloodless renditions of their hits. When they played tracks like "Hummer" or "Cherub Rock," the band made a case for themselves. The rest of the show was often slow, and packed with ballads, throttling the sense of momentum the band had been building since "Disarm."
The power of a reunion tour is that it acts as a reset button. Guns N' Roses came back to raves. The Pixies came back to recognition. The Pumpkins, on the other hand, came back to cash a check. COLIN MCLAUGHLIN.