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Colder than Chicago
January 3, 1996, 11:00 pm

Source: The Gazette

Frost was on the Pumpkins Hot Chicago-based band kicks off mini-club tour in the Great White North; [FINAL Edition]
BETSY POWELL. The Gazette. Montreal, Que.: Jan 4, 1996. pg. D.9

TORONTO --``It's colder than Chicago,'' yelled Smashing Pumpkins guitarist James Iha halfway through the band's kickoff club gig Tuesday night.

It was. Just ask the crowd of 1,000, many still thawing out after an hour's wait outside.

But Canada is the hottest place on the planet for the Windy City-based Pumpkins, who were eager to please their fans but encountered a few obstacles as they plowed through almost 30 songs.

`We're a little rusty'

``We're sorry we're running late. We hope we'll be worth waiting for,'' bassist D'Arcy told the crowd being treated to a sneak preview of a much larger tour next summer.

``We're a little rusty,'' lead singer Billy Corgan conceded apologetically during the marathon of primarily new material.

The Pumpkins, who headlined the Lollapalooza tour in 1994, could easily fill an arena but have opted for smaller venues like Toronto's Phoenix Theatre to perfect their sound and work out the kinks.

And there were kinks Tuesday, most of them experienced by D'Arcy (she goes by her first name only), who grew increasingly frustrated as she tried to tune her bass.

After an uneven version of Disarm, a hit from their 1993 hit album Siamese Dream, the platinum-haired singer lost it, approached Corgan yelling and stabbed him with her finger.

Corgan returned to his mike, grinned, threw up his hands and lunged into a scathing XYU, a song punctuated by his plaintive wail. ``Sorry we were so loose and untight,'' he said later.

But such things were to be expected given the range of material the Pumpkins served up, the majority of songs taken from the sprawling, 28-song double album Mellon Collie and the Infinite Sadness released just over two months ago.

Initially considered risky in this era of single-release CDs, Mellon Collie has already gone double platinum in Canada, selling 200,000 units in two months. It's only the fourth double album to debut in the No. 1 retail chart position.

With his freshly shaved head, Corgan, a towering six-four, looks like the kind of guy you'd think twice about getting into an elevator with alone.

But as soon as a wide smile streaked across his globe-sized face, Corgan seemed almost boyish, though he's 28.

And he seemed to find reasons to smile Tuesday, despite the first-night glitches, playfully ribbing Iha about his guitar-playing and chatting up the audience.

Toyed With The Crowd

At times the band toyed with the crowd, such as disguising the opening of current hit single Bullet With Butterfly Wings with what sounded like notes from a country tune.

But then the crowd knew what awaited as Corgan sang the opening ``The world is a vampire'' before exploding into the chorus ``despite all my rage am still just a rat in a cage,'' a song he apparently penned as an ode to youthful rage.

Iha, known to strut the fashion catwalks with his curtain of black-and-white streaked locks and model good looks, then teasingly implored the crowd to wave their hands, spoofing the heavy-metal lords of yesteryear.

The ready-to-mosh crowd was less than thrilled about the 10-song acoustic set that opened the show.

Despite that, and the bugs, fans were impressed.

``Awesome. Unbelievable. It's the concert of the year,'' said Richard Scherer, 29, who then resumed playing air guitar.

No Montreal shows have been announced.

*** Infomart-Online ***

Credit: CP

Credit: Betsey Powell