Smashing Pumpkins concert in Melbourne 2010 – Festival Hall

The Smashing Pumpkins were absolutely awesome – and that’s a word I usually reserve for mountain ranges and natural disasters. But I should start at the beginning.

The crowd seemed to be a mixture of 30 somethings (me) and a sizeable amount of teenage boys (Yes, many with Efron hairdos – but I digress). The support band, City Riots, had the usual unenviable task of playing to a crowd who might have been very happy to see them at the local pub but were unapologetically keen to see them leave the stage if it meant the appearance of the Smashing Pumpkins. So their comment they were playing their last song met with the typical rousing reception. Of course, it wasn’t personal. In defence of at least one audience member (me) I did google them afterwards and they seem like lovely guys. But at the risk of sounding old, I thought they’d be better off not so loud – but with a clearer sound – the music sounded sort of good, but it was pretty hard to tell.

So the Pumpkins appeared (woo-hoo!!!). The crowd was a bit reserved for the first few songs, but when the intro to Today came on we all (predictably) went reasonably nuts. By the time they started thumping out Ava Adore, everyone was up and singing along. (with the exception of the seated section opposite us – but I think that end of festival hall is possibly under some sort of curse).

Jeff got to do the original Ava Adore solo – I can only assume that Billy might have had enough of it, after all these years. Billy did the Cherub Rock one – which never grows old. Regardless, I think most of us were in old-school guitar heaven (and thus I can’t offer any insightful musical criticism – I was pretty much blissed out). The band sounded good together. Solid and like they were actually having fun. Loved the epic guitar-effects-love-in at the end of the show. Love Billy’s guitar sound full stop. Love the way he gets down and solos like a nine-year-old kid playing air guitar.

He has a nice way with the audience too (when he’s not purposefully pissing them off). At one stage he laid claim to having the best shaved head in the venue, at which a somewhat portly man got up on his friend’s shoulders and issued a bald challenge (I’m pretty sure he lost, but we admired his attitude). Billy immediately recognised him as a member of the Australian rugby team. And posed for him to take a photo. Which was nice.

It was lovely to hear a warm welcome for sweet songs like Spangled and Song for a Son – after all the online bitching about the new Pumpkins music. (It’s FREE. Either say ‘thank you’ or just lock yourself in a room with Siamese Dream and bliss out. It’s even possible to do both). Great sing-alongs of the evening included Bullet With Butterfly Wings (see link), Zero, Today, Cherub Rock and (somewhat more surprisingly) Landslide. A rousing Stairway to Heaven sing-along (apparently instigated by Jeff) was cut short by Billy’s cavalier attitude to the lyrics.

Tonight Tonight was also amazing – but many of us were distracted and disturbed by the reappearance of that ‘Oz Rugby member’ – this time entirely nude (with a pretty magnificent belly) and swinging a t-shirt over his head. I can only assume he was responding to Billy’s earlier ‘dick length’ challenge (which I neglected to mention), but we were all none the wiser, as his relevant body part was obscured by the long-suffering friend who had him up on his shoulders. Billy battled on (laughingly) and we all managed to put it behind us.

Billy proclaimed himself Bogan Billy (to a mixed response) described the Perth audience as ‘confused’ and Adelaide as a concert where the band outnumbered the crowd. We lapped it up – but I’m sure had we gone to the Sydney show Saturday night we might have heard all about Melbourne’s shortcomings – and been more sympathetic to the lone Adelaide fan giving Billy the finger at Festival Hall.

Billy thanked himself for several things – personally I’d like to thank him for playing Star Spangled Banner with his teeth, and for coming to Australia. And I’d like to apologise to my husband for keeping him awake with constant: ‘And you know what else was awesome …’ I think it was probably the first thing I said in the morning too. He didn’t seem to mind actually. And now has just about their whole discography in the car.

Well, that review was a bit light on the musical criticism, but I thought ‘awesome’ covered it.

Set List (please correct)
The Fellowship
Lonely is the Name
Today
Astral Planes
Ava Adore
A Song for a Son
Eye
Bullet With Butterfly Wings
United States
Spangled
Stumbleine
Cherub Rock
Zero
Stand Inside Your Love
Shame
Freak
Tonight, Tonight
Tarantula
Landslide
Gossamer

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