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Corgan and his crew know just what to do, even on the mistakes
June 30, 1996, 11:00 pm

Source: The Grand Rapids Press

Corgan and his crew know just what to do, even on the mistakes
Clark Pfeiffer. The Grand Rapids Press. Grand Rapids, Mich.: Jul 1, 1996. pg. b.4

AUBURN HILLS - It was the second night of the tour and the band hadn't worked all the kinks out of its show.

But fans are willing to forgive The Smashing Pumpkins for lots of things. They have to be.

The Pumkins are infamous for their marked arrogance and pompous attitudes, not to mention dysfunctional working relationships.

Many fans recall leaving Lollapalooza 1994 wondering why they had spent their allowance to watch someone sneer while his bandmates strummed along utterly disinterested.

But Saturday night at The Palace, the Pumkins acted as if they had learned their lesson, or at least showed up for a few classes.

In fact, I literally bumped into a hairless Billy Corgan and a makeup-free D'Arcy on center field at Tiger Stadium during the KISS show Friday night.

The Pumpkins seem to have learned a couple of things from bands like KISS: marketing and fan appreciation.

Some could argue that despite all his rage, the bald Corgan looks like a shaved rat in a cage. However, Corgan's new superstar uniform - silver leather pants and the ever-present "ZERO" T-shirt - is as ingenious as KISS' face paint and platforms.

For $25, fans bought their own ZERO shirts, although it's less than clear if anyone, including Corgan, knows exactly what the slogan is supposed to mean.

Fans found more treats away from the concessions stand.

After a spotty but enjoyable opening by Garbage, the Pumpkins hammered out a 90-minute set that included all the favorites, from the ferocious "Bullet With Butterfly Wings" to the pretty "Disarm."

Musically, the Pumpkins put on a show far superior to any recent tour. They got things going with a collection of thundering tunes from the double disc release, "Mellon Collie and Infinite Sadness."

It was something the band hadn't been doing in the past - pumping up the crowd by tapping into the music's hard-hitting, full-throttle potential.

Even when things slowed down, the band revived older favorites with new jolts of energy.

While the recorded "Today" is slow and sweet, the live version was fast and feisty.

The crowd pleasing continued when Corgan called for the house lights so he could see the 14,000 faces looking back at him. He then extended a thank-you to all in attendance.

But not everything that glittered was gold. While "Bullet With Butterfly Wings" rocked, it only did so on the band's second try. Shortly after singing the line "The world is a vampire," the band stopped abruptly. Someone had screwed up.

Before starting again, Corgan and guitarist James Iha reminded the crowd that veterans KISS had goofed up the night before. "They made their mistake. We made ours. God bless America," Iha said.

The apology wasn't all that necessary. Fans in the seats above banged their heads and those on the floor below banged into each other as Corgan and company did their hit right.

The other fumbles came between songs and encores. While the Pumpkins came out for two encores, they left the crowd waiting for about five minutes before each.

But the audience forgave the anything-but-smooth transitions. The Pumpkins offered songs like "1979" and "Farewell, Goodbye."

The Pumpkins still have a lot to work on in the on-stage personality department. D'Arcy still stood stoic with her bass and drummer Jimmy Chamberlin hid behind his huge set.

Nonetheless, the band set free the layers of energy and beauty locked up behind the egos and infighting.
PRESS NEWS SERVICE PHOTOBilly Corgan sings during a show Tuesday in Saginaw. The Smashing Pumpkins also played The Palace on Saturday.

Credit: Clark Pfeiffer.