Pumpkins offer emotional goodbye performance
By Corey Hartmann
Scene Music Critic
After 13 years of artistic expression, Billy Corgan and the Smashing Pumpkins said goodbye to the general public last Wednesday, Nov. 29, 2000 at a sold out show with an estimated attendance of 25,000 at the United Center in Chicago.
The Pumpkins played for nearly three hours with a set that included songs from every album they have ever released. This was the band's final public show — both for its current tour promoting its latest release, Machina: The Machines of God (the band's sixth full length release) and ever. That's right, ever.
Wednesday was the farewell concert to the fans. The show sold out nationally in under five minutes. The band did play one more concert on Dec. 2 at the Metro in front of about 1000 fans, however, the overwhelming majority of them were close friends and family. Tickets for these two shows were going for close to $1000 a seat on the street and on the Internet.
The Smashing Pumpkins, which originally included Billy Corgan on lead vocals and guitar, James Iha on lead guitar, Jimmy Chamberlain on drums, and D'Arcy on bass (D'arcy has since been replaced by Melissa Auf der Maur of the band Hole for the Machina and farewell tour) has been on a long journey up until this point. From changing band members to nearly breaking up several times, from rehabs to counselings, from drug overdoses to coping with close friend Kurt Cobain's suicide, the Smashing Pumpkins made it this far, and made it known that they were appreciative to all of its fans for this. And the fans were appreciative as well.
It was appropriate that the band decided to make Chicago the location for its final two shows. Most of the band members are from Chicago and the surrounding suburbs, and it was the site in which the band first played together at a big venue in 1988 — fitting that the band ended everything where it all began.
At the beginning of the show, Corgan came out in a long white coat and the rest of the band members wore light colored clothing. This sparked the feeling for the first few songs of the night. They started out with a few songs from Machina, including their latest single, "Stand Inside Your Love." The set concluded as all band members went backstage to change.
For the second set, with Corgan now dressed in a long black coat, the band went into a heavy, alternative, head-banging set that truly brought the concert alive. The light effects were unreal, and made sure that those sitting on the floor got their money's worth. This set included what is probably the band's biggest hit, "Bullet With Butterfly Wings."
Some other highlights of the show included Corgan performing an acoustic version of "Disarm" alone onstage. The song marked a very emotional time at the concert in which, for the first time, it truly donned on many of the fans in the audience that this was going to be the last time they ever saw the band live.
It was during the second set that the Pumpkins played such fan favorites as "Today" and "Mayonnaise." The band also covered "Rock On," originally by the Chicago based band Cheap Trick.
After the conclusion of the second set, the Pumpkins left the stage again, and left the fans at the United Center screaming for more. Everybody knew the band would play an encore, the real question was: how many they were going to play?
After everything was done, the Smashing Pumpkins played three encores, one of which included Corgan asking his father, William Corgan Sr., to join the band on "For Martha."
The emotional ending to the show came when Chamberlain left his drums, grabbed an acoustic guitar and all four band members stood onstage together. Corgan left the stage and came back wearing a Chris Chelios Blackhawks jersey, and asked "How about a winning hockey team again in this city?" Which was followed by "...and maybe the Cubs could win a game or two?"
Corgan then announced that the next song would be the last. And as "1979" rang off the walls of the United Center, the crowd cheered so loudly it became hard to hear the song.
And then they were gone. The lights turned on and the world said goodbye to the Pumpkins.
Corgan has always been known as a great songwriter, producer and musician. The essence of his presence can be felt when listening to any of his albums, but even the albums can not match the beauty and intenseity of hearing him and his band play live.
All Scene Stories for Tuesday, December 5, 2000