Eric Arnum reports from New York: On Jan. 11, three days
after the blizzard of '96,a thicket of Smashing Pumpkins fans waited patiently
in the slush to be let in for the first of three sold-out shows. Inside, there
were two huge sunflowers built on either side of the stage -- or maybe they
were daisies? Three chairs and a starter's drum kit worthy of They Might Be
At 8:20, James Iha walked out, followed by D'Arcy, Billy Corgan,
and Jimmy Chamberlain. D'Arcy had on a tight-fitting long dress. Corgan and Iha
had on their pajamas! A ski hat covered Corgan's still-shaved head.
picked up acoustic guitars and sat down for a jam. D'Arcy on the left, Corgan
in the middle, Iha on the right. The plan called for two sets, no opening band,
with a 20-minute intermission. This was to be the mellow set, with them
sitting, and us standing.
They opened with "Tonight, Tonight" and continued
emphasizing songs from the new album, Mellon Collie and the Infinite
Sadness, including "Zero," "Bullet With Butterfly Wings," "Porcelina of the
Vast Oceans," "Take Me Down," "Where Boys Fear to Tread," "Bodies,"
"Thirty-Three," "In the Arms of Sleep," "1979," "We Only Come Out At Night,"
"Beautiful," "Lily (My One and Only)," and "Farewell and Goodnight."
course there were a few tunes thrown in from Siamese Dream, such as
"Today" in the first set and "Cherub Rock" in the second. During the
intermission, stagehands dismantled the toy drums and unfurled the camouflage
from the big kit Chamberlain would play for the rest of the show. The
sunflowers stayed, but the chairs disappeared.
The house lights never
really went on, and the crowd never really moved during intermission. Then a
tape of the piano intro to Mellon Collie began to play, and the band
walked out -- fully dressed this time. Corgan had on a red sweatshirt with ZERO
written across it in silver. And as if that called the tune, they launched
right into "Zero."
The second set rocked. While the first was a slow 40
minutes, the hour-long second set flew by. Corgan's vocals were as good as
they've ever been -- certainly better than they were in '94 at their last NYC
appearance for Lollapalooza. Iha and Corgan must have played a dozen guitars
each through the night, the last of which -- a hot pink number -- Corgan smashed
into his amp and threw in the air. They came back twice for encores, thanked us
for our patience with the ticket hassles, and with all the new material they
had played, told us not to die in the snow, and said goodnight.