Pumpkins Take Over Winnipeg!!!!

Arena Crowd Believes in Pumpkins

The Smashing Pumpkins

-The Winnipeg Arena
-September 24 1996
-Sold Out
**** out of 5

"The world is a vampire!" head Smashing Pumpkin Billy Corgan snarled last night with all the pomp and theatrics befitting an alt-rock hero.

Maybe so. But you could also say the world is Corgan's oyster these days. Or, if not the world, atleast Winnipeg Arena.

Rebounding triumphantly from the summer drug tragedy that cost the Chicago band two musicians - touring keyboardist Jonathan Melvoin overdosed and died, while drummer Jimmy Chamberlin was fired - the Pumpkins have served notice in agressive, bombastic style that life goes on.

Making their first-ever visit to Winnipeg, singer-songwriter-guitarist Corgan, bassist D'arcy and guitarist James Iha thrilled a youthful and excitable sold-out crowd.

Replacement drummer Matt Walker from the band Filter fit in seamlessly, if not anonymously, as did the Frogs' keyboard player Dennis Flemion.

Loud, loud, loud being the order of the day, the Pumpkins blasted away at favorites from their diamond-ceritified double CD, Mellon Collie and the Infinite Sadness.

Opening with Where Boys Fear to Tread, guitars crunched and the piercing sound lf feedback rang thru the building.

Dressed in his trademark "Zero" T-shirt and silver vinyl pants, Corgan pumped up his farmilliar nasal whine to the screech level. Songs like Bullet With Butterfly Wings, stirred the already enthusiastic crowd into a frenzy.

A few years ago, the Pumpkins carried the catch-all '90s banner "alternative". But on this tour, the Pumpkins have graduated to the ranks of full-scale arena rockers.

The sound may have been verging on thrash metal and punk, but the elaborate pyramid of lights and the video screens with pulsing images and film clips in the backround say commercial success, frequent radio play and mainstream popularity.

What was missing here, though, was some of the mood swings typified on the Mellon Collie album. That album is a mix of hard rock, mid-tempo numbers and delicate, moody ballads. Unfortunately, there wasn't much variety or delicacy to be found last night, though.

Even the ballad "to Forgive" which began gently enough, evolved into a full-scale wail. At one point, Corgan even coached the crowd into an ear-splitting scream session.

In the end, it almost didn't matter what the Pumpkins played. After all, the predominately teenaged audience screamed, applauded, yelled, bobbed and waved lighters before the band even played a note.

One thing is for sure; when Corgan plaintively sang "Believe, believe in me tonight" during the refrain of the hook-laiden radioi hit Tonight, Tonight, you know they all did.

Email: stuntgirl25@yahoo.com