One of the most influential bands of the early ’90s alternative-rock explosion reformed in 2007 when the Smashing Pumpkins played residencies at the Orange Peel in Asheville, North Carolina, and the Fillmore in San Francisco, before further national touring. For those who weren’t lucky enough to attend any of those intimate shows, this two-disc release provides a compelling document of both the music and the creative challenges of launching such an endeavor.
Most of the songs on the concert disc are new and unfamiliar, but they still have that vintage Pumpkins sound. It’s not really a “full concert” since most of those Fillmore shows were more than three hours long, but it does provide two hours of music in stunning, crystal-clear sound that exemplifies the band’s sonic complexity. Tunes such as “Heavy Metal Machine” and the controversial half-hour-plus-minute “Gossamer” are psychedelic-alt-prog tours de force.
The documentary provides an open-book, heartfelt look at Corgan’s creative struggles, and it demonstrates him to be one of the most sincere and visionary musicians of his generation. No less than the Who’s Pete Townshend adds context on the matter. Corgan and drummer Jimmy Chamberlin are the only two of the four original members in the new lineup, but the band was always Corgan’s baby. New bassist Ginger Reyes not only rocks superbly, she frankly blows D’arcy Wretzky away, while guitarist Jeff Schroeder is an able fill-in for James Iha, and Lisa Harrington adds extra texture on keyboards. Rare is the rockumentary that provides such an intimate look at an artist, making this a must for any Pumpkins fan.