Smashing Pumpkins: Primavera Sound, Barcelona, Thursday May 31

Smashing Pumpkins: Primavera Sound, Barcelona, Thursday May 31

Sci-fi rock rides the greatest hits galactica

Anyone worried the six-year hiatus and loss of several members might have changed the Pumpkins, fear ye not. For, as Corgan is beamed down onstage – a whitewashed Ming The Merciless with a comic-book-character entourage, including Jimmy Chamberlin bashing a drumkit bearing an image of the Statue Of Liberty drowning – it’s clear they’re as pompously glorious as ever.

Prog-epic opener ‘United States’ sees Corgan call for “revoluuuushion”, as they reveal both a Stars and Stripes-aping backdrop and their dark hearts; Pumpkins-brand melancholy once again reigns with an iron fist of guitar fuzz that would leave even Gallows cowering in the corner.

Standing defiant, baldy Billy barely says a word throughout. Instead, he hands the communication reins to sultry new bassist Ginger Reyes, who tells the crowd in Spanish on Billy’s behalf that, “The matador in me is the bull in you”, before launching into rampaging new single ‘Tarantula’. But where bilingualism fails him, monumentalism succeeds. This is a celebration of Smashing Pumpkins revived, and each song is received with the kind of joyous enamour you would expect from devotees seeing fallen heroes resurrected.

New songs such as ‘Doomsday Clock’ hit the crowd with a blitzkrieg wallop, but it’s for the forays into the past that the most rapture is reserved. An early airing of ‘Today’ unites the crowd in a mass broken-English singalong, while the likes of ‘Zero’, ‘1979’ and ‘Bullet With Butterfly Wings’ pepper proceedings with glimmering reverence for the Pumpkins’ anthemic back catalogue.

The climax sees a bizarrely determined Corgan absorbing the crowd’s applause alone, striding around and waving like the Queen: still rock’s most bombastic eccentric. He said he did this because he wanted his old band back. He got pretty much what he wanted. So did we. Roll on Reading, it’s going to be smashing.

Alex Hoban