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Concert Reviews:
Smashing Pumpkins perform, provoke at The Palace
 

By GARY GRAFF
for Journal Register Newspapers

» See more SOUND CHECK

AUBURN HILLS -- Billy Corgan and Smashing Pumpkins have always liked to live a little dangerously, and its concert Tuesday night, Oct. 23, at The Palace was no exception.

Not only did the group test its fans' mettle by opening the show with its entire new album, "Oceania," front to back, but Corgan also ventured into risky terrain by talking a little sports smack with the Detroit faithful. The lanky, shaved-headed frontman explained that he spent Monday night at "a little place you might have heard of, Soldier Field" in Chicago -- i.e. the Lions' Monday Night Football loss to the Bears -- grinning at the boos that followed. He also pricked a hockey nerve by letting the Palace crowd know that guitarist Jeff Schroeder, who has from Los Angeles, is a Kings fan.

But Corgan redeemed himself by mentioning the Tigers' World Series appearance at the beginning of the show and later predicting they'll win. "Focus on the positive -- the Tigers -- I get it," Corgan said with another smile, adding that his "warped logic" means that because he's a Cub fans he hates the Tigers' division rivals the White Sox and therefore roots for Detroit.

Ultimately, however, Corgan and company redeemed themselves with music -- two hours and 20 minutes that was characteristically ambitious and occasionally challenging, pointedly eschewing an easy collection of hits in order to focus on the new music and also touching on the avant side of the Pumpkins' catalog.

"Oceania" certainly made for a long, 70-minute opening block of the show, though the alarmingly small crowd -- a Fox Theatre-size turnout of die-hards spread around the Palace floor and lower grandstand -- was enthusiastic throughout. And, with images projected onto a large white ball hanging above the band, the Pumpkins certainly performed the piece well, particularly melodic tracks such as "My Love is Winter," "One Diamond, One Heart" and "Pale Horse" and an epic take of the title tack.

The group didn't exactly ease into what Corgan called the "dusties" that followed, either. A rendition of David Bowie's "Space Oddity" was messy, and the careening "X.Y.U.," one of five selections from 1995's "Mellon Collie and the Infinite Sadness" is assuredly for true Pumpkins aficionados. But the show finally hit a stride with a parade of favorites such as "Disarm," "tonight, Tonight," a fierce "Bullet With Butterfly Wings," "Zero" and "Cherub Rock," while Corgan dedicated the sweet "A Song For a Son" to his father and the pet dog he recently had to put down.

The encores, meanwhile, included a nod to Detroit Rock City with a cover of Kiss' "Black Diamond" before the Pumpkins closed out with muscular romps through "Ava Adore" and "Muzzle." Sports loyalties may have divided Corgan and the fans, briefly, but Pumpkins passion ultimately prevailed.



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