Latest Stories

Come hell or high water, the Smashing Pumpkins rocks Manila—hard


EPIC moment in rock history: The Smashing Pumpkins braves through Philippine monsoon rains to stage a successful show. PHOTO BY MAGIC LIWANAG

We were right to be apprehensive at the start. Looking at the sea of cautiously expectant faces, one could tell that thoughts of the ongoing calamity weighed heavily on everyone’s minds.

Frontman Billy Corgan’s thoughtful tweets on behalf of the band and the merciful change in date from August 7 to 8 offered some comfort, but we couldn’t help expecting the worst.

Some, like me, took advantage of the brief rainless periods and headed to Araneta early.

Others waded through shallow waters and navigated through relatively accessible roads just to get to the venue.

But even then, based on the woeful posts and complaints on cyberspace, a good number of fans were still unable to make it. (Tickets were nonrefundable since the show had not been cancelled.)

People showed up, so did the band. The show must go on.

What a show it turned out to be.

There are several compelling reasons the Manila leg of the American ‘90s alt-rock band’s tour is special.

One, they pulled off a successful show as a merciless monsoon hit the country’s capital.

Second, the band had stretched its set to nearly 30 songs over two hours which, if we’re not mistaken, is the longest Pumpkins concert in history.

Third, for this world tour, the band segregated its setlist into “new” and “old” songs, plus played an album—“Oceania”—in its entirety, which is largely unheard of as far as concerts go.

For the first half, the band played all 13 tracks from the new album while the audience looked on; whether they were lulled by the dreamlike melodies or mesmerized by the stunning globe-shaped backdrop, we couldn’t really tell.

But this arrangement was actually a smart move. It gave us an uninterrupted moment to soak up the Pumpkins’ new sound, which was completely alien yet oddly nostalgic.

From the hard, frantic beats of the opening songs “Quasar” and “Panopticon,” to the surprisingly optimistic synth sounds of “One Diamond, One Heart,” to the haunting melodies of the title track and keyboards-driven “Wildflower,” Corgan’s vocals were unmistakable and ageless. One fan commented, “Now I know why there’s no opening act, Billy just opened for himself!”

‘Blast from the past’ set

FRONTMAN Billy Corgan and drummer Mike Byrne ripping through their instruments like there’s no tomorrow. PHOTO BY MAGIC LIWANAG

As if waking up from a trance, the crowd started getting all fired up when the Pumpkins’ cover of David Bowie’s “Space Oddity” ushered in the second wave.

This “blast from the past” set was a veritable, fist-pumping jukebox of Pumpkins hits that served as the soundtrack to our growing-up years.

They began with the sonic assault track “X.Y.U.” from the epic double-disc “Mellon Collie and the Infinite Sadness,” and soon enough, all cares and worries melted away in the frenzy.

The back-to-back sweeping anthems “Disarm” from “Siamese Dream” and “Tonite Reprise” segueing into “Tonight, Tonight,” plus a rare performance of the sweet love ballad “Luna,” left everyone breathless and teary-eyed with nostalgia.

We even caught the look of disbelief and delight on guitarist Jeff Schroeder’s face as the crowd lustily sang lines of everyone’s favorite moshpit track “Bullet With Butterfly Wings” back to them, loud and clear and a cappella. Yep, that’s the famous Pinoy sing-along power right there.

By then, Corgan had begun interacting with the crowd more. Apparently, the frontman’s jibes and flattery were meant only for the audience, but it made for entertaining banter with his bandmates nonetheless.

His cheeky spiel at wooing the ladies in the audience with “Soot and Stars” ended on a funny note when he commented that bassist Nicole Fiorentino, who looked like a vision in a red dress and badass guitar, was just as beautiful as the Filipinas… Only, she’s a bit smarter by virtue of her being a member of The Smashing Pumpkins. “This is when I get into trouble on YouTube,” he added wryly, amid a chorus of boos and bemused laughter.

Upon asking the crowd if there was anyone who was born in 1987 onwards, he was met with more boos and laughter.

Chuckling, he appeased the crowd by saying that all of us present were true Pumpkins’ fans, people logically old enough to have been there during the band’s inception. (It’s amusing to note that with that comment, Corgan effectively excluded his own drummer, Mike Byrne, who’s only 22!)

The current members certainly did more than hold up their own. They made both old and new songs their own, and Corgan actually looked comfortable playing up there with them.

As far as we Pinoy first-timers were concerned, it’s a good, solid lineup, one that hopefully puts the old issues with Corgan’s alleged creative tyranny to rest.

Little did everyone know, the real surprise was about to begin at the end of the set.

After playing the final song, the melancholy “Today,” the band came back to play a whopping seven-song encore as the band’s way of thanking those who were able to make it to the concert. From then on, the crowd was wild and unstoppable.

Setlist staples “Zero,” “Ava Adore,” “Cherub Rock,” and “Muzzle” were joined by all-time joyride favorites “1979” and “Stand Inside Your Love,” both of which weren’t in the original setlists.

The surreal set ended with a seminal cover of KISS’s “Black Diamond,” with the cherub-faced Byrne surprising us by belting out the part.

Dampened spirits notwithstanding, the concert put us on an indescribable high. We believe that no one could have gone home disappointed that night, even though reality set back in as soon as we stepped out of the Big Dome.

For the legion of loyal Pumpkinheads that night, it was well worth the time, effort and money, and maybe also the risk of catching the flu or leptospirosis from wading in floodwater.

Without a doubt, the thoughts and prayers of everyone present went out to the victims of the calamity. But at the same time, we were immensely thankful for being given this opportunity many had been waiting for for decades.

Thank you, Billy, Jeff, Mike and Nicole, for giving us the most “perfect” experience, all things considered. Hopefully, you’ll really be able to come back to Manila for the sake of those who weren’t able to make it.

“The Smashing Pumpkins Oceania Tour: Live in Manila” was presented by Little Asia, Russian Standard Vodka, FOX, and Music Management International.

Follow Us

Follow us on Facebook Follow on Twitter Follow on Twitter

Recent Stories:

Complete stories on our Digital Edition newsstand for tablets, netbooks and mobile phones; 14-issue free trial. About to step out? Get breaking alerts on your mobile.phone. Text ON INQ BREAKING to 4467, for Globe, Smart and Sun subscribers in the Philippines.

Tags: Billy Corgan , Calamity , concerts , Music , Smashing Pumpkins , “The Smashing Pumpkins Oceania Tour: Live in Manila”

  • http://www.facebook.com/profile.php?id=1428882920 Michael Berrios

    Great review. One edit though: the longest SP concert was their farewell performance at the Metro in 2000, which lasted over 4 hours. 

Copyright © 2014, .
To subscribe to the Philippine Daily Inquirer newspaper in the Philippines, call +63 2 896-6000 for Metro Manila and Metro Cebu or email your subscription request here.
Factual errors? Contact the Philippine Daily Inquirer's day desk. Believe this article violates journalistic ethics? Contact the Inquirer's Reader's Advocate. Or write The Readers' Advocate:
c/o Philippine Daily Inquirer Chino Roces Avenue corner Yague and Mascardo Streets, Makati City, Metro Manila, Philippines Or fax nos. +63 2 8974793 to 94
  1. How Zsa Zsa Padilla found Conrad Onglao; Sharon Cuneta played Cupid
  2. Noli Yamsuan, Cardinal Sin’s ‘official’ photographer: ‘I could smell the aftershave lotion of the Pope’
  3. Palawan favorite getaway of show biz celebrities
  4. Fashionistas flock to designer’s wedding
  5. Joe de Venecia visits the Queen Mother of Cambodia
  6. President Quezon was born here–and so was Philippine surfing
  7. A tale of two Priscillas: my mother Prissy and Chona Recto Kasten
  8. This is not just a farm
  9. ‘Labahita a la bacalao’
  10. Levine designs womenswear with help from fiancee
  1. How Zsa Zsa Padilla found Conrad Onglao; Sharon Cuneta played Cupid
  2. Are your favorite malls open this Holy Week break?
  3. How Vitamin B can be a remedy for ‘manhid’ and neuropathy
  4. Sarah Geronimo and Matteo Giudicelli sing ‘All of Me’–and we all swoon
  5. 90 percent of Filipino households don’t practice proper toilet hygiene, sanitation
  6. Why is the lifestyle set now afraid to wear jewelry–before Kim Henares?
  7. ‘Labahita a la bacalao’
  8. This is not just a farm
  9. 12 other things you can do at Pico de Loro Cove
  10. Marcos grandson to wed beautiful Rocha scion
  1. Mary Jean Lastimosa is new Miss Universe Philippines
  2. Did Angara ruin Pia Wurtzbach’s chances at Bb. Pilipinas?
  3. How Zsa Zsa Padilla found Conrad Onglao; Sharon Cuneta played Cupid
  4. Dominique–Gretchen and Tonyboy Cojuangco’s daughter–now an endorser
  5. Manila in shock over model Helena Belmonte’s death
  6. Vinegar test helpful vs cervical cancer
  7. From Jeannie to mom of suicide victim
  8. San Vicente beaches hidden but not for long
  9. Borgy and Georgina are back; others are off–again
  10. Why is the lifestyle set now afraid to wear jewelry–before Kim Henares?


  • Obama, family cause a small stir at Easter service
  • Estrada: Gigi Reyes won’t testify vs JPE
  • Ancient enigmatic carvings in danger of disappearing
  • Tagle: Hope comes with warning on Easter
  • New plant to boost supply of clean energy
  • Sports

  • Goodbye MGM, Las Vegas for Pacquiao?
  • Rain or Shine drops Ginebra in big hole
  • Ateneo whips CSB; Davao debuts with win over FEU
  • PH pug Hipolito Banal decisions Colombian in Aiba
  • Former Pacquiao sparmate Porter keeps IBF title
  • Lifestyle

  • Transitions and resurrection in the performing arts
  • ‘Archaeology tour’ of Cebu’s heritage of faith
  • Historic Fort Bonifacio tunnel converted into a septic tank
  • ‘Imports’ from London, and play of the year
  • Korean animation comes of age
  • Entertainment

  • Easter musings
  • Solenn in shorts
  • Unmerry mix of attention-calling moves on ‘Mini-Me’ TV tilts
  • Persistence pays off for The 1975
  • Special section in LA fest for Filipino films
  • Business

  • BDO seen keen on bidding for Cocobank
  • Bataan freeport investment pledges up 1,302%
  • Golden Week
  • Bourse to woo Cebu stock mart investors
  • Supper power
  • Technology

  • Nasa’s moon-orbiting robot crashes down
  • Netizens pay respects to Gabriel Garcia Marquez
  • Nokia recalls 30,000 chargers for Lumia 2520 tablet
  • Facebook rolls out ‘nearby friends’ feature
  • Netizens seethe over Aquino’s ‘sacrifice’ message
  • Opinion

  • Gigi’s home
  • Palace stonewalls on MRT inquiry
  • Couple of things too
  • There is plenty of water behind Wawa Dam
  • Triduum thoughts of a young boy
  • Global Nation

  • Search for Etihad passengers launched
  • Japan presents $57-B ‘dream plan’ to solve Metro congestion
  • Tim Tebow’s charity hospital in Davao seen to open in 7 months
  • OFW died of Mers-CoV in Saudi Arabia, says family
  • Aquino, Obama to tackle US pivot to Asia during state visit