Smashing Pumpkins frontman Billy Corgan performed at Herbst Theater in San Francisco this past Wednesday, November 1st. The first of two nights performing his new solo album ‘Ogilala’ in its entirety, Corgan followed this new material with a set of classic Smashing Pumpkin songs (including ‘Tonight, Tonight‘ and ‘Stand Inside Your Love’), as well as covers of other artists’ works (Pink Floyd’s ‘Wish You Were Here’).
Armed with just a piano, guitar, harmonica, and his voice, Corgan spent little time on pleasantries or banter and performed nearly two hours of music for an enthusiastic audience. The soulful, Americana-flavored tracks on his new album and the stripped-down versions of Smashing Pumpkins tracks were accompanied by subtle backdrop images reminiscent of wood carvings from classic children’s books, and a couple of slowly ebbing colored lights punctuated changes in the songs.
Fans seemed to appreciate the material from his new album, but many displayed greater enthusiasm for the Smashing Pumpkins material. During lulls in the music, audience members shouted out requests for particular songs, which eventually led to Corgan remarking, “I’m going to play this song now if I have your permission.”
An overzealous fan in front of me shouted “NICE!” during a random pre-song strum of Corgan’s guitar, which led to some laughter, and a wannabe Spike Jonze accidentally dropped their phone off the balcony onto the head of a lady below, while trying to film the concert, then sheepishly came down to retrieve it. Truly a night filled with magical moments.