Stepping into Golden 1 Center on Tuesday night for the Smashing Pumpkin‘s “Shiny And Oh So Bright Tour,” their first in 20 years, came as a strange delight, considering the complexities that lied ahead. For a band that formed its own brand of alternative rock, defining a time period for many of its fans, the Grammy-Award winning group from Chicago came well-tuned for more than two hours of guitar shredding and lucid overdubs.
Kicking off the show with a stripped-back version of “Disarm” felt like a bittersweet welcome to the past. As frontman Billy Corgan stepped into the spotlight, cheers of all emotions came together for a proper Sacramento welcome. With giant screens projecting photos and home videos from Corgan’s childhood came a heavy blanket of melancholy tapping into the truths of child abuse juxtaposed with a young Corgan shining in the spotlight.
Just as their music videos would create their own lane in their heyday, the show was visually driven by projections that featured artwork from their famous album covers, mixed with original content likely designed for the tour, and highlights from past scenes of the band. Throughout the night, specs of the past would shine on the Smashing Pumpkins.
In sync with the live show, the choreographed visuals made for a whole experience that at times pushed the music toward the background. As live rock shows are accustomed to technical difficulties in the mixing of vocals and lead guitars, Tuesday’s engineers were keeping the overall sound at ease, only calling for a few timely video interludes as bookmarks.
While the band’s body of work is full of emotional coasts, there was a need for a few covers mixed in throughout the night, including a cover of David Bowie’s “Space Oddity” and Fleetwood Mac’s “Landslide.” It was their “Stairway to Heaven” cover that would make the greatest impact on this writer as a candle-lit alter proceeded amongst the crowd while a stellar Led Zeppelin cover was presented alongside a troublesome video of the Virgin Mary and an anonymous child.
For all the heavy material presented throughout the night, the Smashing Pumpkins did know how to show some fun, even if it came in the form of Sugar Ray’s Mark McGrath projected on a giant screen in vaudeville fashion to introduce the classic, “1979.”
In completing the nostalgic 90s vibe, McGrath’s unexpected presence, Corgan’s definitive vocals and the wave of guitar riffs that filled Golden 1 on Tuesday, the “Shiny And Oh So Bright Tour” was a true spark of awesome for the winners of 1997 and 1998’s Grammy for “Best Hard Rock Performance.”
For more information on the Smashing Pumpkins and their “Shiny And Oh So Bright Tour,” visit SmashingPumpkins.com
Photo Courtesy of Kim Allen.