The Smashing Pumpkins covered David Bowie’s “Fame” in Chicago on Wednesday night at Thalia Hall. The show was the band’s first with new live bassist Mark Stoermer (The Killers) and drummer Brad Wilk (Rage Against The Machine). The Pumpkins are no strangers to David Bowie covers, they covered “Space Oddity” on the Oceania tour. Check out video of the “Fame” cover from Chicago below.
If you missed our recap of Wednesday’s Smashing Pumpkins show, check out AlternativeNation.net correspondent Bryan Arbut’s review below.
Thalia Hall had, in all likelihood, its most rousing performance in its storied history as The Smashing Pumpkins (Corgan-Schroeder-Wilk-Stoermer) 2014 vintage live show made its debut.
After an extended sound check resulted in a near 75 minute delay to the posted start time, the wait proved worth it, as the band came off polished, even after just a few rehearsals.
One and All began the set, sounding as well put together as its album version. Starting with the opener and never letting up, Jeff Schroeder’s guitar fills were precise and rang clear over Corgan’s power chords.
Speaking of chords, Corgan, rock’s nasaly curmudgeon’s vox appeared to have been transported in time to the early 90’s. He’s never sounded better, and rarely opted out of the high notes with octave adjustments.
The set continued with Being Beige, where it became clear that this lineup would feature no backing vocals. This was not a detractor from the set, rather it felt like an extension of Corgan’s ownership of the songs and the Pumpkins brand, all his own.
Rather than plowing through Monuments, the band took the Chicago crowd back with Hummer, performed note for note in line with the album. This was the first time that Wilk and Stoermer really shined, and it was impressive to see them both perform new and classic material as well as their predecessors. Wilk smiled often, and it was clear he felt at home behind the kit.
The set then shifted back to Monuments, and Tiberius proved to be the dominant force out of all the MTAE songs debuted live tonight.
The set then stepped back into a pretty conventional, slightly unremarkable, yet vocally powerful rendition of Tonight, Tonite, before flipping back to MTAE for Drum & Fife, which was the only song debut that noticeably could’ve benefitted from backing vox.
From here, the flip flop back to past albums continued in order, as Machina was called upon in perhaps the most surprising song choice of the night, Glass & The Ghost Children. This was a joy for the die-hards, but left the majority of the crowd wondering what was happening as the psychedelic jam took on an alternate direction entirely in the show.
The crowd was reeled back in with another precise rendition of Stand Inside Your Love.
Back to (Presumably) MTAE, with another yet unknown rocker that was instantly gripping, and felt like a classic despite it never being heard previously outside of the band. More to come on this song, as it will be a contender for one of the heaviest and most revered from MTAE.
This song was followed up by Drown, which was one of the top crowd pleasers, and again featured spot on vocals, accompanied by solos and fills that sounded perfect. Wilk’s drumming on Drown was remarkable.
It was at this point in the set that it became time to “play the hits” as Disarm, Zero, and BWBW were blasted through. After these three, the set reached a point where jt became hard to believe the band had barely taken a breath between songs, and I began to wonder when they’d give the set it’s defining moment and go off script.
That they did, ripping through a memorably heavy and scream filled take on Bowie’s Fame. Truly, this cover stole the show up to this point in the set, only to be followed up with something that, rock gods willing, someone captured in HD audio/video.
What followed Fame seemed to begin as a Silverfuck tease, with the beginning drum fill and riff, but meandered all over the map, becoming a true alternate standalone version of the song, and it was amazing.
Finishing the set with a single encore was Burnt Orange Black, which did indeed close the show well.
If Corgan is content with modeling the Pumpkins’ live show after a NIN like approach to supporting musicians, with BC and The Shredder at its core, this lineup is a great place to start. A classic show.
One and All (We Are)
Drum + Fife
Glass and the Ghost Children
Stand Inside Your Love
Bullet with Butterfly Wings
Fame (David Bowie cover)