I’m sure it’s no secret to anyone that I love the Smashing Pumpkins. What’s even less likely to surprise you is that Thomas is a huge Pumpkins fan, going back to the ’90s. (I’ve joked with him that I’m jealous of the difference in our ages – six years – sometimes, because he got all the best music to grow up with.) So when they announced the Oceania tour — which I learned is pronounced Oh-see-ahn-eee-ah, thanks Billy — I knew that we had to get tickets.
The album isn’t my favourite, but it’s a decent piece of work to add to their impressive repertoire. I wasn’t sure what to expect from my first Pumpkins show, especially since the band arguably doesn’t exist anymore (with Corgan being the only original member left).
The show started around 8:15pm, with the tickets saying that the show was at 8 — not a bad start. They didn’t have an opening act for this leg of the tour though, which I thought was odd. Anberlin is slated to start opening for them from October 10 onward. We here in Calgary just got the full on Corgan show.
After a couple of songs just sliding from one to the other, I was starting to get concerned that this would just be a stand-up show where they play the music, then GTFO. I love going to live shows because I love the banter that the artists can have with the crowd. Not only is it visually stimulating to go to a concert, but I like feeling that connection to the artist/band as well.
A couple more songs and a thank you or two from Billy, and I was starting to get frustrated. I realized they were just playing Oceania straight through, and I was pissed that I paid for a ticket to see that.
Halfway through the album, Billy stopped to address the crowd and explain the situation. “We’re playing through the new album from start to finish, and then we’ll be going through the classics,” he said. “We’re so lucky to be able to do this, and we know it’s because we have the best fans. Thank you, so much.”
This was a main theme throughout the show. Corgan was so stinkin’ appreciative of every butt in every seat in that arena (which was kept to the first bowl level; no one was sitting in the 200 sections). After wrapping Oceania — which I now have more of an appreciation for after hearing it played live — the Pumpkins transitioned into the classics section of the show by covering an old David Bowie song:
As the review from the Calgary Herald put it, “he couldn’t have picked a better, more fitting song to segue into the “classic” Pumpkins set — full circle — than Bowie’s Space Oddity, it being about the journey, the trip.”
Once we got into the “classic” part of the show, there was a lot more banter, which as I said, is my favourite part of concerts. Of course, not everyone likes hearing the artist talk instead of sing, and then this happened:
Honestly, this made the concert for me. Holy crap. Good on Billy for calling that guy out! You came for a show, an experience. You don’t get to dictate the terms! I know that I was not impressed at the beginning of the show, but would I yell at the artists on stage to play something different? Definitely, definitely not.
After playing songs like XYU, Cherub Rock, Thirty-Three, 1979, and Adore (YES!), they played an additional two (yes, TWO) encores. Zero and Today were of course in each.
Overall, the band played without stopping for 2.5 hours (and apparently they had to leave earlier than they planned, too!) and the show was such an amazing experience. Thomas and I both agreed it was a fantastic way to see one of our favourite bands, and just solidified the significant role they’ll always play in my musical tastes.
After the show was pretty fantastical as well. I tweeted during the show, and then afterward to thank Billy Corgan for the experience. Then this happened:
Yep, Billy Corgan not only replied to my tweet thanking him and the band for a great show, he retweeted my message about Oceania. You’d better believe I was out of my mind with excitement while sitting at my desk at work! And this is what I was talking about before — the level of appreciation this man has for his fans isn’t seen anymore.
Overall, if you ever get the chance to see the Pumpkins live, you’ll be kicking yourself if you miss it.