Touring behind this year’s impressive Oceania record, the Smashing Pumpkins stopped at Cain’s Ballroom in Tulsa on Friday for a sold-out show at the intimate venue.
Billed as a “warm-up” gig for the full Oceania tour, the Cain’s show found the Pumpkins’ largely stripped of their staging. While most dates on this tour will see the band playing under a giant glowing orb with various things projected on it, this simply couldn’t fit in Cain’s.
Instead the band relied on a few strobe lights and their raw ability as a group, delivering a powerhouse set which began with them playing the Oceania LP, front to back.
Hearing the Pumpkins’ play the album straight through really highlighted both the strong and weak points of the record. Quasar started the show, mixing together elements of both Cherub Rock and Geek U.S.A. with the overdrive turned all the way up.
The Celestials found guitarist Jeff Schroeder playing a mellotron while Corgan and bassist Nicole Fiorentino harmonized on the track’s haunting vocal melody. The song was a fan favorite upon the album’s release and it definitely got one of the biggest responses from the first part of this concert.
One Diamond, One Heart ruined the flow of Oceania on record and it unfortunately does the same thing in the live show. Lyrically the track is strong, but the synth remained too high in the mix and drowned out Corgan’s voice. After a solid string of rockers it comes across as jarring and the live performance did nothing to help the track’s case.
Oceania, the three-part, occasionally creepy sounding title track, definitely works in a live setting. While over 9 minutes long, the song’s clearly divided sections serve to recapture the audience’s attention. The third section, driven by Fiorentino’s relentless bass work, was one of the highlights of the show.
After the title track finished, the band faithfully played through the album’s strong second side. Kicking off with the gorgeous Pale Horse, the Pumpkins’ seemed to really fall into place. Judging from Corgan’s smile and attitude during both Glissandra and Inkless, it’s pretty clear that he and the band are really into the new record. Luckily for them the audience was into it as well.
After wrapping up the run-through of the LP, the band started in on another set of covers and older Pumpkins’ tunes that Corgan and Schroeder jokingly referred to as “dusties.”
Corgan started in on a drawn out solo which slowly morphed into a cover of David Bowie’s Space Oddity. The track definitely suits the band and while they did a pretty standard take on it, Corgan’s voice and soloing pushed it firmly into Pumpkinland.
A super-extended version of X.Y.U. ignited the crowd while Corgan proved that he has no problem screaming like it’s still 1995. The song is one of the heaviest in the Pumpkins’ repertoire and it’s great to see them give it love on the setlist.
Disarm, Bullet With Butterfly Wings and Tonight Tonight made predictable appearances but the biggest surprise of the night was Mayonaise showing it’s beautiful face. The band pulled it out in Austin the night before this show, but these two appearances mark the first time the band has played the track since the end of 2008.
The band completely shifted gears after Mayonaise ended, finishing out the show with a tremendously powerful run through Zero, a rocking Ava Adore and a cover of Kiss’ Black Diamond. The latter found Mike Byrne showcasing some vocal chops while Corgan and Schroeder took the opportunity to lay out some fantastic dual guitar solos.
While this was a far more intimate show than most on the tour will be, if you’ve enjoyed Oceania at all this isn’t a show to miss. The band just keeps getting tighter as a live act and it was clear they enjoy playing together. The addition of some rarities and a few phenomenal covers made the set seem more special than normal and it wouldn’t be surprising to see them pull out some more surprises during their trek across the America.
Quasar, Panopticon, The Celestials, Violet Rays, My Love Is Winter, One Diamond One Heart, Pinwheels, Oceania, Pale Horse, The Chimera, Glissandra, Inkless, Wildflower, Space Oddity, X.Y.U., Disarm, Tonight Reprise > Tonight Tonight, Bullet With Butterfly Wings, Mayonaise, Zero, Ava Adore, Black Diamond