Japan Osaka Castle Hall

Death hangs thickly in the air tonight...

Death hangs thickly in the air tonight. On stage, [a]Smashing Pumpkins[/a] are descending down the path of the Dark Lord into the metal underworld. The thump of ‘The Everlasting Gaze’ cuts out and a single orange light illuminates Billy Corgan‘s cue ball noggin where it sits rigidly six feet above the ground. Eyes fixed on eternity, he barks something about skulls under wheels and cries, “you know I’m not dead!” The impressionable kids give him the two-fingered horned-beast salute.

Everybody’s tinnitus rings a little louder.

Six months or so away from their orchestrated collapse, SP aren’t ready to present a greatest hits sayonara set. With amps turned up to 11, the Goth ones off ‘MACHINA’ grow incisors. As the onslaught continues with ‘Heavy Metal Machine’, Corgan drones bleakly about the broken dreams of rock ‘n’ roll. You have to ask if he’s not just burying them under all those power chords. Then when the comparatively lean ‘Cherub Rock’ is presented, it seems absurd that SP have forgotten that you can play your guitar loud without resorting to head banging pastiche.

The Pumpkins can be genuinely menacing though as they prove with a truly nasty version of ‘Bullet With Butterfly Wings’. Even as it morphs into a, “you may ask yourself…” monologue taken from Talking Heads’ ‘Once In A Lifetime’, the edge inextricably remains hard.

There are moments of peace, too. As the four Pumpkins prepare to strum ‘1979’, it’s all happy families and comedy [I]nom de plume[/I] introductions. A beam of sunshine warms everyone to smiles and daisies sprout all around. They’re soon stomped back into the earth, however, with rock ‘n’ roll that sinks into the most raucous, parent-scaring noize this side of Hades.

Tonight’s attempt to invoke the black spirit of metal is self-indulgent and at times, plain unpleasant. Die quickly then and let us speak of the many good times. Forget resurrection. Start thinking about reincarnation.