Spirits on Fire Tour draws to a close as The Smashing Pumpkins and Jane's Addiction take Anaheim
by Cassiopeia Guthrie, November 17, 2022
The Honda Center was alight with energy and verve with last night's pop-in by The Smashing Pumpkins on their Spirits on Fire Tour with Jane's Addiction and pop/metal artist Poppy.
This North American arena tour, with 32 dates running through this weekend in Los Angeles, turned up the volume and tackled a variety of styles from surprise nu metal to the expected alternative anthems that fans showed up to enjoy. And, in a nearly four and a half hour program split between the three sets, thousands of hungry fans danced, screamed, and even sang.
Poppy's attitude were front and center in the opening act. At 27 years old, the Boston native has been on the scene since first tackling the social media and YouTube scene in the early 2010s. Since then, she's solidified her place in the industry, earning a Grammy nomination for Best Metal Performance for her song "Bloodmoney" in 2021. Her opening act for the evening featured a handful of high energy tunes which wrapped with the catchy track "I Disagree" from her third album.
After a quick set change, Jane's Addiction hit the stage ready to amp up the theatrics. Joined by Josh Klinghoffer (Red Hot Chili Peppers, Pearl Jam) on guitar for a handful of songs and flanked by a trio of sequined and lingerie-clad burlesque dancers, it was glitz and glamour meeting raw sex appeal and power. Lead singer Perry Farrell had the audience eating out of the palm of his hand; one second he was calling fans onstage to join him (spoiler alert: no, they never made it), and the next he was toasting the loss of loved ones during COVID. Between songs like "Jane Says," "Three Days," and "Been Caught Stealing," and the confidence oozing between sets, Farrell and Jane's Addiction took advantage of every last moment they were given for their set with all of the confidence of the veteran performers that they are.
Closing out the evening was powerhouse headliner The Smashing Pumpkins with a setlist featuring 18 tunes from their discography. While the stage was transformed with lights and video projections, and the arena was filled with a crowd decked in gear from years past, the vibe in the crowd ranged wildly between the eras of the Smashing Pumpkins, at times singing along and recording (as with favorite hits like "Bullet with Butterfly Wings," "Zero," "Tonight, Tonight," and "1979"), but then other times disengaging during new and upcoming tunes like "Empires" and "Beguiled." While I personally missed some favorites from albums of the past and I heard others expressing similar sentiments en route to the parking lot, I imagine it must be a tough thing to balance the desire to create the art that you're currently passionate about and the art you became famous for. I don't envy the band or any long-touring entity that challenge.
The moment in which everyone was most engaged was honestly during the sweet pause punctuating the evening when frontman Billy Corgan invited his jetlagged 7 year old Augustus onstage and the audience joined the band in singing Happy Birthday to him. Augustus remained onstage for the next tune, "Beguiled," before skipping off into the wings.
And, at the end of the day, while Corgan, James Iha, Jimmy Chamberlin and the band's performances did not disappoint - the raw and crackling vocals, killer drum licks, and artistic guitar riffs are stunning to bear witness to - the performance was ultimately lackluster and missing just that extra bit of nostalgia to keep the OG crowd happy.
The Spirits on Fire Tour has two more shows: Friday, Nov. 18 in Phoenix and Saturday, Nov. 19 in Los Angeles. Tickets are available online.