Review by Max Stewart, Photos by Terence Rushin/State Farm Arena
When The Smashing Pumpkins and Jane’s Addiction announced a duel tour earlier in the year, it was a no-brainer. In fact, to see both of these bands in the heart of Halloween season just felt oh so right. Sure, there is the obvious ‘Pumpkin’ parallel, but in a deeper sense, both of these bands seem to tap into a darker and mystical realm with their catalogs. They are both massively successful commercially, but their songs have an edge that feels more minor-key oriented and introspective than many of their peers in the 90s and beyond.
Jane’s Addiction opened the show for the tour at Atlanta’s State Farm Arena, unfortunately without original guitarist Dave Navarro who is recovering from long COVID. That was definitely a huge disappointment and we wish him the best, but it was cool to see them bring back original bassist Eric Avery for the run of shows. In a set that included a nice variation of songs from Nothing’s Shocking, Ritual de lo habitual, and their 1987 self-title album, the band brought the ferocity and rock n roll flare with some exotic dancers who frolicked around the stage throughout their set.
The opener “Up the Beach” had that spooky undertone, with the slow-moving tempo covered in reverb-heavy guitar licks by replacement guitarist / longtime Queens of the Stone Age member, Troy Van Leeuwen. Singer Perry Farrell was his typical dynamic and whimsical frontman self, mentioning the last time he was in Atlanta was for the Super Bowl (when he played with his good friend Taylor Hawkins and the Foo Fighters at a pre-party show). “I wish you could be inside my mind right now… it’s a party…” Farrell said before launching into “Been Caught Stealing.” This band surely does bring the rauchose energy and party to their live show, which made them a staple in L.A. in the late eighties before making it big globally. They didn’t perform like they were openers at all, they had headliner charisma and chops.
There are very few rock moments as satisfying as seeing “Mountain Song” and the mind-boggling cymbal tenacity by Stephen Perkins, who is an absolute monster on the drums and a centerpiece to the band’s sound. We wish they had more time after they wrapped with “Stop!”, and so did Farrell as he actually mentioned something about doing three nights next time in town. We look forward to hopefully seeing them alongside Navarro next time around.
When Smashing Pumpkins took the stage, the audience was nice and primed for some spine-chilling rock. Opening with the new tune “Empires” before the thrashing “Bullet With Butterfly Wings,” the band’s look and production was perfect for the arena environment. They then played “Today” off of their 1993 classic, Siamese Dream. In the ultimate fun fact reveal for the Georgia crowd, the band actually recorded that record in suburban Atlanta at the former Triclops Sound Studios in Marietta, GA. As a local, it was endearing listening to Billy Corgan and James Iha reminisce on that recording before going into a duel acoustic version of “Tonight, Tonight.”
The band really stretched it out as well with some nice improvisational jams alongside cerebral visuals and lights. There was a stunning version of “Silverfuck”, with some impressive soloing by Corgan and guitarist Jeff Schroeder. Drummer Jimmy Chamberlain is another master of the kit, and his drum parts on “Cherub Rock” truly makes it one of the best rock intros and alternative songs of the 90s. Witnessing that tune live was a peak of the set, with the Atlanta crowd roaring.
Given the history between some of the members, we are just so thankful to see Iha, Corgan, and Chamberlain playing Smashing Pumpkins songs to arena audiences in 2022. We look forward to many more years of music from both of these bands.