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Smashing Pumpkins at Toyota Center Houston


The Smashing Pumpkins would have been a band that was played through the years on Rock 101 KLOL.

In fact, many Houstonians probably heard the alternative act for the first time on Exposure with David Sadof Sunday nights on the AOR station.

The Pumpkins returned to Houston July 17, 2018, this time at the Toyota Center, for its somewhat reunited lineup for the “And Oh So Bright Tour.” Bassist D’arcy Wretzky did not sign back up for this trek.

And no doubt, that Tuesday, longtime fans said, “Today is the greatest day I’ve ever known.”

Based on the length of the show, it was the summer solstice. The Pumpkins set clocked in around three hours much to the chagrin of the Houston Press.

Front man and fearless band leader, Billy Corgan, started the show off on the stage alone with an acoustic guitar strapped on to sing Disarm. That type of song is not a band’s usual opener as it is not a big rocker.

It worked though.

After the acoustic tune, curtains and screens were raised, as the crews rolled out the drums and keyboards. Next, the band all calmly walked out with original members, drummer Jimmy Chamberlin and returning guitarist James Iha receiving the most applause.

The crowd was a mix of longtime and younger Pumpkins fans. In fact, I saw two people on the older side of things apparently lose their minds over the performance. Security had to step in for each case.

I could see how they might lose their minds because the stage production was amazing and so was the performance.

Corgan clearly programmed a trippy, yet early 20th century/old Hollywood vibe throughout the show. That included pre-recorded videos of Sugar Ray singer Mark McGrath dressed and speaking in a vaudevillian/huckster manner for parts of the show.

At the front half of the show, the video screens mostly showed re-edited Smashing Pumpkins videos from the MTV era, but as it progressed, there was more and more cinematic scenes shot just for this SP tour.

A woman sat next to me very quickly during the show and asked me how I liked it. She told me she directed it with Billy. I wasn’t sure if she meant the stage production or the videos. Either way, they were both good.

Corgan channeled his inner-rock star with costume changes and different stage placements. The rest of the band was fairly low key. Prodigal son guitarist Iha awkwardly did most of the limited microphone banter in between songs.

What I was surprised about most were the covers as you will see in the set list below. They were great, but I never thought I would see the Pumpkins perform Stairway to Heaven. The new song, Solara, at the end was awesome.

Metric were the openers. I have enjoyed their songs on SiriusXM’s Alt Nation, but their live performance really made me a fan.

Setlist as recorded by

Space Oddity
(David Bowie cover)
The Everlasting Gaze
Stand Inside Your Love
Mark McGrath Vaudeville Interlude #1
Blew Away
For Martha
To Sheila
Porcelina of the Vast Oceans
(Fleetwood Mac cover)
Tonight, Tonight
Stairway to Heaven
(Led Zeppelin cover)
Cherub Rock
Mark McGrath Vaudeville Interlude #2
Ava Adore
Try, Try, Try
The Beginning Is the End Is the Beginning
Bullet With Butterfly Wings

Baby Mine
(Betty Noyes cover)