* This was the first time that The Smashing Pumpkins played “The Celestials” live!
The Smashing Pumpkins gave a killer performance on June 19th at the iHeartRadio Theater in New York City. The intimate performance was to celebrate the release of the band’s ninth studio album “Oceania”.
You can stream or download audio from this concert on the Live Music Archive.
Click for 67 pictures and video stills of the Smashing Pumpkins performing at IHeartRadio!
This is partial footage of the web stream with technical difficulties and all. The footage begins mid-way through “Today” and ends with some audio problems during “X.Y.U.” Here is alternate footage/audio shot by a fan from “The Celestials” and on.
“With a fresh perspective in my mind and a couple of Jamesons in my belly, I entered the iHeartRadio Theater just a few minutes before the band’s 8 P.M. sharp start time. As some corporate puppet droned on about checking-in and downloading their iPhone app, the crowd cheered as bassist Nicole Fiorentino, drummer Mike Byrne, guitarist Jeff Schroeder, and finally the iconic frontman himself took the stage to kick off a short but incredibly sweet set for the 200-person audience with a cover of KISS’s “Black Diamond.”
A seemingly left-field choice in my mind but one that was apparently a staple of their recent live shows, Corgan and the band’s rendition of “Black Diamond” set a hard-tinged classic rock tone that flew in the face of expectations for a new record release show. The Pumpkins seemingly cemented this theme by immediately launching into their own series of classics, leaving me cheering dumbfounded as the raw low-range guitar riff heralding “Zero” hit my ears. Having spent the day rocking out to Oceania over and over and listening to the forward-thinking musings of Corgan, I was definitely NOT expecting to hear the bastion single from their 1995 masterpiece “Mellon Collie & the Infinite Sadness” performed this well with a lineup that had long since left D’Arcy, James and Jimmy behind.
And then, fuck me, they kept at it. “Zero” bled into the seething rage of album-mate “Bullet With Butterfly Wings,” which in turn found the band digging even deeper into their classic catalog for the cathartic Siamese Dream anthem “Today.” I’d have handily lost any bet I’d made on that opening song lineup, but the Pumpkins’ choice to seemingly shower us with nostalgia became crystal clear when, after a brief pause, Corgan announced that they would finally play the first three songs off of their brand-new album.
As the interlocking guitar, bass, and drumwork of Oceania opener “Quasar” thundered across the venue, it was clear that this was the moment The Smashing Pumpkins had really taken the stage. The power the band poured into this opener defied any rote replaying of songs from the past. Mike thrashed at his drumkit while Billy and Jeff traded intricate licks and Nicole laid down a chugging bassline, swaying in a way reminiscent of predecessors D’Arcy and Melissa Auf der Maur but entirely her own. The running instrumentals of “Quasar” gave way to one of my favorite new songs, “Panopticon,” with guitars and bass serving as a synchronous chorus of harmonies over Mike’s primal drumming – all surging and layering under Billy’s classic vocals to pull off a rock song that stops just short of being an opera.
Track 3 of Oceania, “The Celestials” proved to be a special treat. It was the first time the band had ever played it live, and they masterfully moved from the “Disarm”-esque acoustic opening to burst into the gripping guitar lines that soared with Billy and Nicole’s vocal harmonizing over the refrain. It was at this point that the band stopped and then dipped back into rock history to close out the set with an outstanding rendition of David Bowie’s “Space Oddity.”
Superfan Jay Sharp’s face says a thousand words here, guys.
Of course we stood roaring and clapping for an encore, and the Pumpkins more than obliged, firing back with the opening drumroll that heralded Siamese Dream opener “Cherub Rock”. The connections between The Smashing Pumpkins of yesteryear and The Smashing Pumpkins of 2012 were crystal clear by this point. Here was a band that, through several iterations and even more trials, has retained and refined their past but hasn’t remained enslaved to it. That point was hammered home with their absolutely raw closer “X.Y.U.,” replete with alternately thundering and twitchy riffs and primeval screaming. With those final notes, the band left the stage and the house lights went up, ending an absolutely dense and mindblowing hour with one of the best bands around.
As we walked back over to the pub for more drinks, I paused as I was hit by a powerful realization: the only thing that disappointed me about my first time seeing The Smashing Pumpkins live was that they didn’t play MORE new songs. I’d imagine that is what Corgan wanted us to realize: that his crew has evolved in fits and spurts to finally achieve a lineup of truly like-minded individuals who have power and talent to burn.
Keep it coming, Billy. We’ll be watching.” – Damien