Smashing Pumpkins review – it’s just me, myself and I

Wembley Arena, London
You can’t fault their energy but, at three hours long and with countless costume changes, the 90s rock gods’ reunion show is all about singer Billy Corgan’s huge ego

The stage is bare except for a solitary mic stand. When the curtains part, they reveal Smashing Pumpkins’ singer and guitarist Billy Corgan, dressed sombrely, except for some flapping silver fabric that looks like half a skirt. An acoustic guitar slung around his shoulders, backlit, Corgan basks for some moments in the cheers of the near-capacity arena. Then he kicks off the penultimate date of this much-vaunted Smashing Pumpkins reunion tour with – of all things – a solo acoustic track.

The scene-setter is Disarm, first released on Siamese Dream, the Pumpkins’ 1993 album. It is perhaps the singer-songwriter’s most poignant few minutes, in which he addresses the abuse he suffered as a child. Infamously, the 90s alt-rock titan didn’t write a vengeful grunge kiss-off, but a furred, blithe ache of a tune, that sought to “disarm” his childhood tormentors “with a smile”. Throughout, Super-8 films and childhood pictures flash up, scribbled over, his eyes x-ed out; as the song ends, Corgan, 51, turns to the backdrop and salutes his younger self.

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