Jane’s Addiction and Smashing Pumpkins live in New York City: ’90s legends stage a hit filled fiery rock show
“Ladies and gentlemen, welcome to the rock show,” Billy Corgan, enigmatic frontman of The Smashing Pumpkins, declares to a buzzing New York City crowd towards the start of their set. Madison Square Garden screams in response as he looks out at the mass of enthusiastic fans in Pumpkins tees, balancing drinks and swaying with excitement as they watch the legendary rock band take on one of the world’s biggest stages.
To be fair, the Manhattan audience has had quite the warm-up for the NYC stop of their ‘Spirits On Fire’ tour. Suited in a silver sparkling blazer and flanked by scantily clad dancers, Jane’s Addiction frontman Perry Farrell heats up the crowd with a swift but sensational set, one he describes as “short and sweet like afternoon sex”.
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The spicy statement seems fitting for a performance featuring sexy upside-down silhouettes on monkey bars and Farrell’s wife, Etty, spinning on a sex swing, but even with the heavy dose of adult content on stage, the guest-filled performance tips the scale towards rock and roll.
Josh Klinghoffer, formerly of Red Hot Chili Peppers and touring musician for Pearl Jam, ups the grunge rock ante by joining the Jane’s during their spiralling track ‘Three Days’. Daniel Ash of Bauhaus also takes part in the action, performing ‘Jane’s Says’ and ‘Slice Of Life’ to gracious listeners.
At 63 years old, Farrell, who midway through the rapid set shifts to black leather fingerless fringe gloves, still shimmers in his rock and roll prowess, keeping the attention of the crowd between hit tracks and gratifying banter, all while taking multiple sips from a glass.
“New York City, just like I remembered it only different,” he jokes before telling the story of the last time the band, which recently reconvened with founding bassist Eric Avery, played the Garden. “Last time I was here I got in a fight with a girl I was with in the hotel room before the show,” he says. “That’s why I was late. I do apologise.”
The band closes to the tune of ‘Been Caught Stealing’, with the whole of the stadium singing along to every word.
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The Smashing Pumpkins open their set with their latest offering ‘Empires’ before leaning into fan favourites, ‘Bullet With Butterfly Wings’, ‘Zero’, and ‘Cherub Rock’. Lasers, mammoth screens, and a massive tilting brightly lit star illuminate the performance, but the most subdued moment, an acoustic version of ‘Tonight, Tonight’ steals and stills the show.
The band also shares a sinister cover of ‘Once in a Lifetime’, something they’ve done multiple times during their current tour, but the track goes off like a missile in Talking Heads‘ hometown.
Pumpkins also delight the crowd by playing their pounding new track, ‘Beguiled’, the lead single to their upcoming album ‘ATUM’ which arrives next year. Although he’s draped in a black robe and dark face paint, Corgan’s demeanour on stage is anything but gloomy. The set is punctuated by multiple rounds of thanks and gratitude to onlookers. The band ends their set with another new track, ‘Harmageddon’ with fans singing along even though the song received its live debut less than a month ago.
The mid-week Madison Square Garden romp marks a triumphant night from two ‘90s bands whose ability to mix nostalgia-inducing tracks with fresh music, staying power, and driving sound has kept them and their fans going. The ‘Spirits On Fire’ tour stop in New York City proves there’s no such thing as a bygone era when it comes to a tried and true rock show.
Jane’s Addiction played:
‘Up the Beach’
‘Ain’t No Right’
‘Slice of Life’
‘Ted, Just Admit It…’
‘Been Caught Stealing’
Smashing Pumpkins played:
‘Bullet With Butterfly Wings’
‘We Only Come Out at Night’
‘Once in a Lifetime’
‘Stand Inside Your Love’
‘I of the Mourning’
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