Wed Nov 5 2008
United Palace Theatre; Thu 6, Fri 7
Over the two decades that he’s fronted Smashing Pumpkins, Billy Corgan has proved himself a remarkably dependable source of self-caricaturizing quotes. The singer-guitarist adds a doozy to the collection in If All Goes Wrong, a new documentary depicting the veteran alt-rock band’s return to active duty last year: “It’s really weird to me that people really don’t wanna hear the work around the great work,” he says, explaining his allergy to playing Smashing Pumpkins hits and nothing but.
Consider yourself warned, then, that at these two shows—part of a North American trek commemorating the Pumpkins’ (or at least Corgan’s and drummer Jimmy Chamberlin’s) 20th anniversary together—the reconstituted group will venture beyond the likes of “Today” and “Tonight, Tonight.” Far beyond, in fact: Corgan has promised that the two nights’ set lists won’t overlap at all, which means that once the golden oldies are out of the way, he’s got a big box of marginalia just waiting to be opened.
Fortunately, that marginalia can still be pretty fascinating: “G.L.O.W.,” a new Smashing Pumpkins single recorded for Guitar Hero: World Tour, wraps Corgan’s trademark wounded-bird melancholy in surprisingly robust heavy-metal riffs, while last year’s semicomeback disc, Zeitgeist, proved that hemorrhaging half his band hasn’t sapped his ability to pen a fist-pumping chorus. Special two-night tickets are available for the superdevoted, but if you’re planning to check out only one of these gigs, choose carefully—the Pumpkins are calling Thursday’s show “Black Sunshine” and Friday’s “White Crosses.” Whatever that means.