Friday, February 27, 2015

There was a palpable mood of nostalgia as the zeitgeist of youth-culture in the 90s, The Smashing Pumpkins, performed their sideshow at Festival Hall, after having played at Soundwave festival.

Influenced by Goth bands, like Bauhaus and the Cure, and New Wave bands, such as New Order, The Smashing Pumpkins formed in 1988, achieving considerable popularity in the 90s, alongside bands like Nirvana and Pearl Jam, characterised by their melancholy, often sonically-dense music, containing strong elements of arena- and gothic-rock.

The crowd - predominantly in their late-20s, early-30s - roared as the stage-lights bounced off Billy Corgan’s shiny, perfectly domed head as he stepped onstage, opening with Cherub Rock, off their seminal album Siamese Dream.

Corgan remained more-or-less stationary, giving an understated, though effective performance, appropriate for the often dour lyrics. His stage-presence was loaded with a unique magnetism, and also modesty and self-possesion. Jeff Schroeder alternated expertly between the strong contrasting moods of the Pumpkins repertoire. His energetic guitar-solos echoed hard-rock bands of the 80’s. Accompanying were Brad Wilk, drummer of Rage Against The Machine, and Mark Stoermer, bassist for The Killers, who both provided exceptional performances; Wilk’s drumming was particularly hypnotising to watch. Much of the performance was a My Bloody Valentine-esque wall-of-sound of layered guitars drenched in echo which shook your body like a gust of distortion.

Classic Pumpkin’s tracks, like 1979, Ava Adore and Bullet With Butterfly Wings, induced a wistful nostalgia among many in the audience, these songs being the soundtrack of their youth.

The Pumpkins were supported by fellow Soundwave act, Gerald Way - the lead singer of My Chemical Romance. Way delivered anthemic pop-punk with overt shoe-gaze influence, playing material from his solo album, Hesitant Alien. His strong, charismatic persona more than making up for the absence of One OK Rock, the Japanese emo band, who were dropped from the bill.

The legacy of this culturally significant band still manages to draw new listeners and maintain a very dedicated fan-base.

Written by Julius Epworth

The Smashing Pumpkins | Gerald Way | Festival Hall | 23.2.15
Photographer - Perri Cassie