A year and a half after launching their reunion tour in Paris, the Smashing Pumpkins are finally coming home for a series of four theater shows in Chicago in late November.
One of the most successful rock bands the Windy City ever produced and one of the best-selling acts during the alternative explosion of the early '90s, the Pumpkins officially disbanded after a farewell show at Metro in December 2000. But it wasn't long before mercurial bandleader Billy Corgan was reconsidering that move, and on the day he released his first official solo album, "The Future Embrace" (2005), he announced he'd like to get the old band back together.
Corgan has only partially succeeded: The only original Pumpkin to answer the call has been drummer Jimmy Chamberlin. Frustrated by Corgan's notorious drive and perfectionism, guitarist James Iha and bassist D'Arcy Wretzky opted out of round two, and they've been replaced on tour by hired hands Lisa Harriton, Ginger Reyes and Jeff Schroeder.
Corgan and Chamberlin released the backward-looking comeback album "Zeitgeist" in July 2007 and began playing select theater residencies shortly thereafter--but there were no gigs in Chicago. The long wait for the group to perform in its old home town prompted fans to speculate that Corgan was making some sort of statement, or that he developed a grudge against the city he always said he loves, and which he paid homage to in a still-unreleased acoustic album recorded here.
When the band announced a show last August at the Venue at Harrah's Horseshoe Casino in Hammond, Ind., a source close to the group took pains to say this was not its eagerly awaited homecoming gig, and that Corgan was waiting to play Chicago proper until the band's 20th anniversary--though the group actually played its first show here in July 1988.
Whatever the logic, the new Pumpkins are coming back with the sort of drama and grandeur typical of the old Pumpkins: The group will play two shows at the regal Chicago Theatre on Nov. 18 and 19 and two shows at the equally grand Auditorium Theatre on Nov. 21 and 22. The first night of each two-night stand has been subtitled "Black Sunshine," while the second night has been called "White Crosses," indicating that the band will perform two completely different sets on the two evenings.
A press release from concert promoters Jam Productions advises that fans should "expect all the hits and songs that have become the soundtracks to a generation, as well as special surprises throughout." Details regarding ticket sales will not be announced until next week, but fans will be able to buy special two-night "ticket bundles" for either theater stint.
The group also is gearing up to release a new single, "G.L.O.W.," via the Guitar Hero World Tour video game, and a two-DVD set called "If All Goes Wrong" capturing earlier theater residences in San Francisco and Asheville, N.C.