Even with ‘Basic Show’ Pumpkins have Much to Offer

Concert Review by Jeroen Savelkouls

Date: June 20th, 2013
Venue: Live Music Hall
Capacity: 1,200-1,800
City & Country: Cologne, Germany
Tour: Shamrocks and Shenanigans 2013 Tour
Personnel: Billy Corgan, Jeff Schroeder, Nicole Fiorentino and Mike Byrne
Duration: ca. 2h15m

Ticket Smashing Pumpkins Cologne Germany
No orb, no video projections, and limited lighting showed up for their first show of the European leg of the Shamrocks and Shenanigans tour. The Smashing Pumpkins largely ignored periphery visual distractions and focused on a tight gig and balanced set list; these ingredients were more than enough on Thursday evening to convince the crowd of approximately 2,000 in the extremely hot Live Music Hall (LMH) in Cologne (Germany) that this band is still relevant.

Coupons

It was not the first time singer and lead guitarist Billy Corgan played in this venue. The Live Music Hall was also his stage of choice for one of his solo shows in 2005. During the last visit of the Pumpkins to Cologne two years ago, however, the band preferred the much larger Palladium. Considering that 4,000 tickets back then didn’t sell, it seemed like a wise decision to scale down their ambition. This time around they found themselves playing in a full house which is beneficial to both the band and audience.

The doors opened at 7pm. At that time just enough people were there to occupy the first two rows, but right before supporting act NO started their show the hall quickly filled up. NO is six piece guitar band from Echo Park, Los Angeles, often compared to The National. They are touring in Europe since June 15 and will be playing during the next few weeks in Tilburg (the Netherlands), Gent (Belgium), and Paris (France). Their gig in Cologne is the only one which sees the band opening for the Pumpkins.

Opening Act NO

NO turned out to be a very energetic band and its musicians obviously enjoyed their time on stage very much. With their radio friendly pop/rock songs the ensemble around lead singer Bradley Hanan Carter swiftly won over the crowd. They played ten songs of their debut EP, Don’t Worry, You’ll Be Here Forever, to be released as their first proper album later this year. Afterwards, Carter handed out coupons with codes for downloading a couple of their songs for free. Commercially, maybe not the smartest thing to do (or perhaps their EP is sold out), but it did generate a lot of good will.

Blank Page

Shortly after 9pm, it was the Smashing Pumpkins’ turn. With the reissue of The Aeroplane Flies High box set to appear next month and announcements on Twitter and Facebook about ‘surprises’, many were curious which gems the band would dig up from their back catalogue. And could we expect new material, too? One song on the set list Corgan already gave away in a tweet a few days before the show was the second to last Adore (1998) track “Blank Page”.

Like many of their recent performances, the band started out with “Quasar” and “Panopticon”, the first two tracks of the 2012 album, Oceania. The songs were played tight and fast; approximately as they were released on the studio album. Corgan, dressed in a shirt with picture of wrestler, The Sheikh, seemed a bit disgruntled about the sound (and a guy throwing empty beer cans at the stage), but in the first few rows such nuances were difficult to distinguish. It was annoying to hear the singer’s voice often drowned out by the music. That made it hard to follow along with the lyrics; especially the newer songs that not everyone seemed to know that well.

The same went for the third song of the evening, “Starz”, which was played in a slightly different way than the version on Zeitgeist (2007). Subsequently, the vocals on “Rocket”, “Space Oddity”, “XYU”, “Disarm”, and “Tonight, Tonight” (including the ‘reprise’ version) turned out to be less of an issue since most of the crowd yelled along with Corgan. With the first notes of “Rocket” the crowd lost any hesitation it might have had and the band seemed a bit more relaxed. The David Bowie cover, “Space Oddity”, turned out almost as popular as some of the bands own classics; apparently, the musical love between the Pumpkins boss and the 66 year old British singer is shared by their fans.

Led Zeppelin

Next, a few songs off Oceania – “Pinwheels”, the title track, “Oceania”, and “Pale Horse” – were followed by fan-favorite “Bullet with Butterfly Wings”, “Ava Adore”, and “One Diamond One Heart”. At around two thirds of the set list, the band thought it time to deliver on a promise; for the first time since November 12th, 2000, they played “Blank Page”. With Corgan behind his Mellotron and the beautiful backing vocals of bass guitarist Nicole Fiorentino, the song developed from a fragile ballad to a rocker; this was definitely one the high points of the evening.

The first real surprise of the evening followed immediately after: “The Imploding Voice” off the 2000 album MACHINA/the Machines of God. Although maybe not the most well-known song among casual fans, this fast and loud version turned out to be a real crowd pleaser. The same went, of course, for “Zero” (with an new intro), “Stand Inside Your Love”, and to a lesser degree, for the last song of the main set, “United States” (without the Star Spangled Banner in the middle section). Concluding with two encores, the evening ended with the Led Zeppelin song, “The Immigrant Song”, “Today”, and “Porcelina of the Vast Oceans” off the Mellon Collie & the Infinite Sadness (1995) album.

Smashing Pumpkins (Billy Corgan)

Surprises?

The biggest surprise of this show turned out to be that there were no real surprises. Since 2011 the set lists developed slowly into their present form, without any radical changes; apart from a few songs and two covers – of which one is been on rotation for quite some time now.There was not much new to see or hear in the Live Music Hall. Considering the absence of sophisticated visual elements like they had on their recent US tour, ‘Cologne’ was very much a basic show; but if basic is always this good, I’d settle for it any day.

Set List

Quasar http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=KcoXmrctikw
Panopticon http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=QF2W1UEAQ48
Starz http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=LRurwPXFm4Y
Rocket http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=U9CsTyIHPGE
Space Oddity (David Bowie cover)
X.Y.U. http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=dXrdzWrk5YM
Disarm http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=HYWboai3PBA
Tonite Reprise http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=D-lBBdH6hLU
Tonight, Tonight http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=X2Zq8MRE5WA
Pinwheels http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=yFiqFpHUK2M
Oceania http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=GMIwfMZ4-Ao
Pale Horse
Bullet With Butterfly Wings
Ava Adore http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=M1d30bPK_8w
One Diamond, One Heart
Blank Page
The Imploding Voice http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=FC6ysi2jEdA
Zero http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=4oNlyPOOBRo
Stand Inside Your Love
United States

—encore1—
The Immigrant Song (Led Zeppelin cover)
Today

—encore2—
Porcelina of the Vast Oceans

Pumpkins of the Past – Lisa Harriton

Article by Shaharaine P. Abdullah

Next former Smashing Pumpkins band member in this series is Lisa Harriton
(birthdate: November 18, 1980)

Lisa Rae Harriton is an English musician who is best known for her brief stint as the touring keyboardist and back-up vocalist for The Smashing Pumpkins in 2007.

Lisa01

Pre-Pumpkins

Lisa was born and raised in a musical family – her mother Terry Harriton is a Los Angeles studio singer, while her father Michael Harriton is a composer and musician; her older brother Steven is a guitarist. At the age of 8, Lisa was already working as a studio singer at Disney, Integrity Media and Word Records. She was schooled at the Royal Schools of Music in London, where she received a distinction after graduating with a degree in classical piano.

Lisa02

In May 2004, Lisa completed her degree in Jazz Piano at the University of Southern California, where she was trained privately under the tutelage of Alan Pasqua, one of the premier jazz pianists in the world today. Her education influenced her music, which is described as soulful pop infused with jazz and world influences. Over the years, Lisa has performed in Japan, China, Peru and Los Angeles jazz clubs and worked with other musicians like Ingrid Jensen, Joe LaBarbara, Darek Oles, Larry Koonse and Ernie Watts. On June 24 2005, Lisa married fellow jazz pianist Alex Navarro, but the couple divorced in 2007.

Lisa03

Pumpkins Period

After the new line-up for The Smashing Pumpkins was announced in 2007, Lisa was debuted as the new touring keyboardist for the band (along with Ginger Reyes on bass and Jeff Schroeder on guitars) during their May 22, 2007 show at Le Grand Rex club in Paris. She also appeared in music videos for ‘Tarantula’ and ‘That’s the Way (My Love Is)’, as well as on The Smashing Pumpkins’ documentary concert film ‘If All Goes Wrong’.

Lisa04
(Billy Corgan and Lisa Harriton)

 When I play with the Pumpkins, I think really texturally with splashes of color.  I think as a composer and an orchestrator, not just as a keyboard player. It’s a really cool mix with Billy, because he definitely thinks that way in the big picture. He’s really inspiring… I think Billy respected that I had a different background than anyone else in the band.  He is very supportive and never makes me feel stupid.” Once she began playing with the group, things gelled quickly and the band had a lot of fun together. “I love to play free,” she says. “We sometimes just jam. It is a great environment for taking chances. Billy is appreciative if you jump off the cliff and commit to your choice.” – Lisa Harriton on performing with The Smashing Pumpkins.

Post-Pumpkins

On March 9, 2010, Billy Corgan announced that he had started auditions for a new keyboardist and new bassist for The Smashing Pumpkins (after Ginger Reyes announced her departure to focus on her family), signaling Corgan’s intentions to take a different direction with the band’s sound. For her part, Lisa stated that, after touring with the Pumpkins from 2007 to 2008, she was eager to start working on her new solo album and residency at Tutuma Club de Jazz in New York.

Adam Lambert

(Lisa Harriton with Adam Lambert)

Since working with the Pumpkins, Lisa has toured/performed with Dave Stewart (Eurythmics) Adam Lambert, Ke$ha and Natalia Kills, opening for the Black Eyed Peas, Katy Perry and Bruno Mars.  She can also be seen in Adam Lambert’s music videos ‘Whataya Want from Me?’ and ‘For Your Entertainment’. Lisa has also been working with Matt Sorum (from Guns N’ Roses) as keyboardist/background vocalist in his new band, Diamond Baby and can be seen in their debut video ‘Last Rockstar’, which features a star-studded ensemble that includes Jane Lynch, Juliette Lewis, Motörhead frontman Lemmy Kilmister and Verne Troyer. She was set to release her debut solo record in summer of 2012 under Broadstroke Records.

References:

http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Lisa_Harriton
http://www.last.fm/music/Lisa+Harriton
http://hipstersunited.wordpress.com/category/band/lisa-harriton/
http://www.mi.edu/about-mi/faculty-profiles/lisa-harriton
http://www.nationmaster.com/encyclopedia/Lisa-Harriton

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