Opening act Morning Parade wowed the crowd Monday night at the Barclays Center with thunderous, danceable beats, warm vocal harmonies, and staccato guitar parts on songs like “A&E” and “Headlights”, the latter their breakout hit from their self-titled album released earlier this year. “That was our last single,” said lead singer Steve Sparrow, “and this is our next one,” before playing “Under The Stars”, a song that starts out as soft and gentle as an early morning sunrise, then a little past the one minute mark, morphs into a driving beat with a rock growl. Morning Parade is clearly a band on the rise, having already performed on The Tonight Show with Jay Leno here in the US, and having played Hyde Park for the London Olympics torch relay this summer. Their closing number, “Born Alone”, is the final track on their album, was a good way to say goodnight to the Brooklyn audience. “Can you show me true romance/can you show me how to dance?” Sparrow sang. Morning Parade certainly showed Brooklyn both of those things, and will soon likely show the rest of the world.
Smashing Pumpkins took the stage at 9:00pm and played for a full two and a half hours. “On this tour, we play Oceania (their latest album, released in June of this year) in full, and then if I’m in the mood, we’ll play some of those dusty classics,” said Pumpkins frontman/mastermind Billy Corgan. The Barclays Center crowd reacted with wild applause, hoping to cheer Billy up enough to play some of their favorite tracks from 1993’s Siamese Dream or 1995’s Mellon Collie and the Infinite Sadness. With other bands, the paying audience is sure to get the radio hits that the band is known for, but with Billy Corgan, it’s always a gamble. Luckily for all who were there (and for those who will see the recorded performance later – there were 3D cameras rolling the whole time for a likely upcoming DVD release), Corgan & Co. started the post-Oceania set with a cover of David Bowie’s “Space Oddity” and then began knocking out the Pumpkins most beloved radio hits.
They played a furious version of “X.Y.U.”,
a b-side from Mellon Collie, that had Billy screaming and beating his chest like a crazed gorilla, then cradling his Stratocaster in his arms like a lost boy holding a teddy bear, at which point he began reciting Mary Had a Little Lamb. Perhaps continuing on his exploration of the innocence of youth, they then played “Disarm”, the hit single that juxtaposes the lyrics “I used to be a little boy,” with “the killer in me is the killer in you.”
Hardcore fans who had purchased the 1996 box set “The Aeroplane Flies High”, or new fans who might have purchased the recently re-released expanded version of Mellon Collie on iTunes, would have appreciated that Billy started mega-hit “Tonight, Tonight” by playing the reprise version found on either of those collections before playing the “proper” version that everyone knows & loves. The Pumpkins had a giant spherical video screen behind them which played the 1902 film “Trip to the Moon” that served as the inspiration for the “Tonight, Tonight” music video that won MTV’s Video of the Year in 1996.
Towards the end of the set, Billy took a break to introduce the rest of the Pumpkins, which may be different than the Pumpkins you remember: Jeff “The Shredder” Schroeder on guitar, Nicole Fiorentino on bass, and 22-year-old Mike Byrne from Portland, OR on drums. “What do hipsters think of drum solos?” Billy asked. He then showed everyone his Tebow pose, later admitting “I’m killing my mystique.” Billy’s mood must have brightened after all, because he next treated Brooklyn to a “new, new, new” song called Dream Machine, a sprawling epic that toggled between soft & reflective and loud & abrasive, as only the Pumpkins can do. “For those of you on drugs, now is a good time to leave, because you’re not going to like this journey,” Billy warned beforehand.
The band came back for an encore, now over two hours in, playing “Eva Adore”, “Cherub Rock”, and closing out the night with “Zero.” Smashing Pumpkins’ tour was officially over, but with Billy’s prolific writing habit, they are likely to be back soon.