SMASHING PUMPKINS & JANE’S ADDICTION TOUR HITS NASHVILLE
The Smashing Pumpkins
Spirits on Fire Tour | Nashville
October 13, 2022 Review by Traci Turner
The Smashing Pumpkins’ Spirits on Fire Tour rolled into Nashville this week, bringing Corgan and crew, Jane’s Addiction, and Poppy to the South for an epic evening of all things rock.
The Pumpkins are promoting their upcoming release, “Atum: A Rock Opera in Three Acts,” which will drop on April 21st, 2023. The 33-track album – pronounced “autumn” – has been dubbed a sequel to 1995’s “Mellon Collie and the Infinite Sadness” and 2000’s “Machina/The Machine of God.” When they announced the album last month, they debuted a new song, “Beguiled.”
Since then, Corgan has been debuting tracks – a new track every week for 33 weeks – on his podcast, “Thirty-Three with William Patrick Corgan.” The 33 songs are divided into three acts of 11 songs which will be available in chunks: Act 1 will be available on November 15th; Act 2 on January 31st; and Act 3 on April 21st. On the final release day, a special edition box set with 10 additional previously unreleased songs will be available.
So, what will the band do on tour? Play a bunch of songs no one knows yet? Or stick to the classics? Well, in the epic two-hour show, they blended old and new and everything in between.
After Poppy kicked things off with her nu metal sound that drew out several fans, a steady drumbeat began while an image of two sitting women with fire coming out of their heads stayed on the screen. After 10 minutes, the drums stopped, and the image on the screen changed to “Jane’s Addiction.” And yes, the crowd went wild.
As was announced the week prior to the show, guitarist Dave Navarro had to pull out of the tour. “I am sorry to have to say that I will not be attending due to my continued battle with Long Covid that I have been dealing with since last December,” Navarro posted on his social media. “I had hoped for a full recovery by October, but I am still very fatigued and will not be able to join this leg. I am personally gutted as our original bass player has returned, Eric Avery. We wanted to bring you the original lineup, but that will have to wait until I am recovered. While the band is touring, I will be working on some new Jane’s material in the studio here in LA.”
Hey, new Jane’s material does make it easier to handle! Navarro also said, “The great Troy Van Leeuwen will be filling in for me. He has been in such bands as Queens of the Stone Age, Failure, A Perfect Circle, Eagles of Death Metal & The Damned, just to name a few.”
And so, Van Leeuwen walked onto the stage with Eric Avery (bass) and Stephen Perkins (drums) and they began the intro to “Up the Beach.” Just before the first verse, front-man Perry Farrell stepped out from behind Perkins, wearing a cream leather and sequin suit, and the energy in the arena jumped! With that smile and persona that only Farrell can pull off, he surveyed the crowd and encouraged the yells.
The next song, “Whores,” brought out the trio of burlesque-styled dancers that made appearances during half the songs with varying degrees of naughtiness (to themselves and each other). I bought the tickets for my teen son and I am sure he loved watching this unfold with his mother next to him. The ladies engaged in rope dancing and some video camera play acting for each other…
In between each song, Farrell would talk to the crowd about a variety of topics – from the passing of Loretta Lynn to the incredible musicians in Nashville to religion to Kanye West’s recent anti-Semitic tweets, which deeply hurt Farrell. At each song’s end, all the lights would cut off except one spotlight on Farrell as he spoke.
They went through “1%,” “Ain’t No Right,” “Three Days,” and “Jane Says,” but the venue was amped up times 10 when “Been Caught Stealing” began. You could feel the shift in energy!
After dedicating “Mountain Song” to Loretta Lynn, Jane’s did “Ted, Just Admit It…” and closed out with “Stop!” It was an excellent set from one of the quintessential rock bands.
With a fairly quick changeover, things were ready for the Pumpkins. The lights cut off and a large video screen illuminated with a white moth, featuring the SP logo. As Jeff Schroeder (guitars), Jack Bates (bass), and Katie Cole (backing vocals) stepped onto the stage, the fans started to cheer, but it escalated as James Iha (guitars) and Jimmy Chamberlin (drums) took their positions.
As front-man Billy Corgan became visible – wearing a long black robe garment and white face makeup – the excitement in the arena became much louder and the band went into their new song, “Empires.” The band debuted the song at their Chicago show last month, so it is not super-well known, but that did not stop fans from rocking along to it.
With their second song, “Bullet With Butterfly Wings,” not only was I reminded how much I love the song, but I was truly amazed at their visual show. That may sound silly to say a band has an amazing visual show, but I don’t recall ever being so sucked into a performance like this. The lights went out to the sides further than I typically see with other bands. With a subtle amount of smoke on the sides as well, it made the stage appear to be the only thing in front of us and it truly felt like an immersive experience. Had I not been behind a seven-foot-tall guy, I would have completely forgotten I was in an arena. The visuals were different for every song – lights, video, giant robot looking creatures, a huge star above their heads; no two songs were the same. As for “Bullet With Butterfly Wings,” when it ended, my son and I looked at each other and said, “Wow!”
Two more sing-along favorites, “Today” and “We Only Come Out at Night,” were followed by “Cyr” which had Corgan guitar free and creeping around the stage, still sounding like he did “back in the day.”
A cover of “Once in a Lifetime” from Talking Heads included a large video of Corgan looking creepy due to a stop-motion type film, wailing guitar solos, and Corgan screaming out the lyrics, giving the whole song an entirely new feel.
“Solara” was treated to an amazing drum solo from Jimmy Chamberlin that had me saying, “He’s not playing that. No, he can’t be!” But yes, he was. Damn fine job. Corgan began to play his guitar alongside Chamberlin, making it a psychedelic jam session.
Corgan dropped his guitar to handle vocals – and more creeping around – during “Eye” which had a Matrix-feel green backdrop with the lyrics appearing in green text. Corgan stayed off guitar for “Ava Adore” and encouraged fans to sing the chorus, which they happily did. Chamberlin offered up another fantastic drum solo as Corgan did some dancing and three crosses with (fake) men appeared on the back of the stage.
With the crucifixion still at the back, the screen lit up as a starry sky and Corgan and Iha remained as the only two on stage.
Corgan: James. It’s a Monday night.
Iha: What else are you going to do on a Monday night?
Corgan: Ain’t no honky tonkin.’ There’s a lot of broken hearts.
Iha: I’m from the Midwest. I don’t know. I don’t know what goes on.
Corgan: I know you’re… (places hand on heart) (laughs) I’m not even going to go there.
Iha: Sorry. We had a whole bit worked out.
Corgan: (laughs) Are you having a good time with us? (crowd cheers) I’m redundant in saying this is one of the great music towns in the world, always a pleasure to play here for you good people. Thank you so much. I know it’s a Monday night and I know we ain’t no honky tonk band.
Iha: We could be watching football. Kansas City versus the Oakland Raiders. What’s the score? Anybody checking their phones?
Corgan: James, do you want to watch football or play this song?
After a bit more football chat from Iha, he told Corgan to go ahead with the song. Corgan chuckled, pointed to the audience and said, “We’d like to dedicate this song to you. You might know this one. This song goes out to each and every one of you. A little song we like to call ‘Tonight, Tonight.’”
Corgan and Iha settled into an acoustic version of “Tonight, Tonight” and the arena lit up with the light of thousands of cell phones and voices of those thousands sang along. For about the 15th time, a woman in the front screamed “Spaceboy!” but Iha said, “We’re not playing that song. We haven’t rehearsed it.”
“Stand Inside Your Love” and “I of the Mourning” were followed by another crowd favorite, “Cherub Rock.” Corgan introduced the band and did some guitar noodling before they did two more faves, “Zero” (featuring a very cool retro 3D style visual) and “1979.” They moved to their new song, “Beguiled” which was the only song of the night to feature a traditional music video on the screen behind them.
After two oldies – “Silverfuck” and “Disarm” – and two newbies – “Neophyte” and “Harmageddon” – the show was over. As has been their pattern, no encores. Corgan was gracious, bowed, waved, and gave thanks to the crowd before exiting the stage.
Corgan sounded excellent and the entire band did a fantastic job. Definitely a show you need to see in person because the videos I watched trying to refresh my brain writing this just do not do it justice. Go get yourself immersed! SoCal, you can catch it November 16th at Honda Center in Anaheim and November 19 at Hollywood Bowl.
Remember to check out Corgan’s podcast now to start hearing songs from “Atum: A Rock Opera in Three Acts” before the full release on April 21st.