Live Review: The Smashing Pumpkins at Santa Barbara Bowl

There are some venues out there that are absolutely magical. When you get to see one of your favorite bands and one of “those” types of venues, don’t hesitate, go see them there. It will be one of those shows in your memory that will always live on and be played in your head. The Santa Barbara bowl is a mystical place. The way it’s nestled inside the hill and the fact that it feels so intimate even being 1/3 the size of the Hollywood Bowl is just icing on the cake. Not to mention the sound at the venue is impecable. I’ve had the pleasure to see a few of my favorite bands there like Nine Inch Nails, Jane’s Addiciton, Stone Temple Pilots, Depeche Mode and now The Smashing Pumpkins.

Over the past few years (pre-pandemic) I rediscovered my love for The Smashing Pumpkins. I remember how it happened too. I was listening to the radio late at night after a long day and night, I couldn’t think of anything to put on so I just went with whatever the radio had on. At that moment, as soon as I turned to the pre-set on my car stereo, the beat for “1979” started and that was that. The song ended just as I got home and that set in motion what would make me fall in love with this band again.

Seeing The Smashing Pumpkins during their 2018 “reunion tour” was magical all on its own from the set list, the visuals, and then some. This night was different then that show. Not only did they pick one of the most absolutely perfect set lists, they were on fire all night long. Songs from the beginning till now made everyone in attendance singing along and dancing. It was amazing to look over the crowd and see how many people were enamored with the brilliance of The Smashing Pumpkins.

Starting off the set was “The Color Of Love” from their most recent and underrated albums in CYR (seriously, it will grow on you and the songs live sound amazing). Then they hit the crowd with “Bullet With Butterfly Wings.” From that point, it was on, the next blast of songs included “Today,” “Ugly (which I’ve loved for years. Even had a few tears of joy drip from my eyes during that one),” “Drown” and “Quiet.” Now I don’t know about you but, what a way to kick off the show. Throughout the night even more great songs were played including “Eye,” “Ava Adore,” “Zero” “Cherub Rock,” Stand Inside Your Love” “1979” “Disarm” and one of the best performances of “Tonight, Tonight” I’ve ever seen with just Billy and James Iha playing. They even played their cover of The Talking Heads “Once In A Lifetime” and that was tremendous. Towards the end of the show two more surprise songs got me good though. “Telegenix” from CYR was played and that just happens to be my favorite song on that album and to close out the night (due to curfew) “X.Y.U.” One of the most fun moments during the show was when Billy put down his guitar to sing and his dance moves were a bit contagious as he had many in the crowd following his moves. Maybe one day we can get some Jimmy Shimmy like in the CYR video.

The Smashing Pumpkins are officially back. Sure they had their ups and downs over the years just like any band does (theirs was a bit more public) but, this renewed sense of the band has them on absolute fire. I highly recommend going through their catalog and the b-sides and discovering all the greatness that is The Smashing Pumpkins. It’s truly amazing that a band like this who has been around for over 30 years can still put out quality music, shows and still be inspired. When The Smashing Pumpkins come back to your town, don’t hesitate, GO SEE THEM LIVE!!!


Set List:

01) The Colour Of Love
02) Bullet With Butterfly Wings
03) Today
04) Ugly
05) Drown
06) Quiet
07) Cyr
08) Once In A Lifetime (Talking Heads Cover)
09) Solara
10) Eye
11) Ava Adore
12) Tonight, Tonight (Acoustic: Billy & James)
13) Stand Inside Your Love
14) Cherub Rock
15) Zero
16) Telegenix
17) FOL
18) 1979
19) Disarm
20) If There Is A God
21) X.Y.U.

By: Brian Lacy

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