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Review: Smashing Pumpkins Play Visceral Show In Northern California
The band's two-hour set lived up to Billy Corgan’s promise to ''take back motherf******* rock 'n' roll.''
by Laura Reiley
sanjose.citysearch.com
After Smashing Pumpkins’ disappointing 1998 release ''Adore,'' the band has a lot to prove with its Feb. 29 release ''MACHINA/the machines of God.'' But when the Pumpkins swept through Palo Alto, California’s tiny Edge nightclub recently--part of a series of unannounced club shows--the band had one goal in mind. And though the goal was clear right from the beginning, frontman Billy Corgan didn't get around to stating it until halfway through the show: ''We're here to take back motherf******* rock 'n' roll.''

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The Edge show proved that the band's new lineup is geared to keep Corgan's promise. Reinstated drummer Jimmy Chamberlin has honed his brawny, visceral rhythms. This more muscular percussive style is echoed by new bassist Melissa Auf Der Maur (formerly of Hole), who replaced D'Arcy Wretzky in November. For the show's openers--the new album's radio single ''The Everlasting Gaze,'' followed by the hard-thumping ''Heavy Metal Machine''--Chamberlin and Auf Der Maur provided a rapid-fire counterpoint to Corgan's and James Iha's guitar fury.

Ironically, two highpoints of the two-hour set came when the band revisited what Corgan referred to as ''our failed 'Adore' album.'' ''Ava Adore'' got the packed house hopping; later, the pretty and ruminative ''To Sheila'' played to the heart. With the refrain ''You make me real,'' it seemed a description of what the small venue imparted to the band. As the evening progressed and Corgan's bald pate slicked with sweat, the Pumpkins came out of their shell, getting sillier, chattier. They seemed to be having fun in a way not possible at a larger venue.

The band reached back into its catalog of songs, doing all the crowd pleasers from 1995's ''Mellon Collie and the Infinite Sadness'' (''Tonight, Tonight,'' ''Zero,'' ''Bullet with Butterfly Wings''), but dipped back even further with lively reinterpretations of ''Cherub Rock'' and ''I Am One,'' the band's debut single.

The Pumpkins came back for three encores, the first of which showcased a straight acoustic version of ''1979'' and a goofy cover of The Who's ''Join Together.'' In the second encore, an introduction to the new album's ''I of the Mourning'' marked the evening's low point, but Corgan's high spirits could not be dampened. After telling the story of Little Red Riding Hood, he led the band off on a free-form musical romp that proved that, as the new album attests, the Pumpkins are ''heavy metal machines.''

Published: Mon Feb  7, 2000 at  18:01:29 Pacific Time

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