The Smashing Pumpkins reunited earlier this year, sans bassist D’arcy Wretzky, for an arena tour in support of their forthcoming studio album Shiny and Oh So Bright Vol. 1. That album finally dropped a couple weeks ago and the band commenced a short, seven-night stint of smaller club dates at The Sylvee in Madison, Wis. Wednesday night.
Opening with lead single from the new album, “Solara,” front man Billy Corgan emerged at stage center, dressed in a full-length silk robe, with guitarist James Iha and Jimmy Chamberlin to his left, while guitarist Jeff Schroeder and touring bassist Jack Bates were positioned to his right. They next launched into 1990's staples “Zero” and “Today,” drawing a vocal sing-along from the capacity crowd. Corgan showcased his musicianship during the psychedelic “Dross” and later during the epic, spacey jam “Porcelina of the Vast Oceans.” Vocally, Corgan sounded the same as he did on Siamese Dream.
The night featured the debut live performance of two additional songs from Shiny and Oh So Bright, atmospheric ballad “Knights of Malta” and uplifting rocker “Travels.” Visuals were limited to a single video screen backdrop that filled the length of the stage, often portraying a simple, often iconic image for effect, such as the cherub with crescent moon during “Tonight, Tonight.” Other highlights included a musical tribute to 1980’s mainstays Depeche Mode and The Cure when they performed covers “Never Let Me Down Again” and “Friday I’m In Love,” the latter featuring Iha on vocals.