After a scintillating set in Las Vegas, I couldn't pass up the opportunity to see the Smashing Pumpkins in Los Angeles. It was interesting going from the cozy 2,500 capacity Pearl Theatre to the mammoth 15,000 plus capacity at the Home Depot Center.
After navigating the maze like parking at the Home Depot center, I arrived after the smoke of Cypress Hill cleared to catch Chris Cornell. I remember catching Soundgarden in 1996 at Lollapalooza. Soundgarden was in top form and the combination of Kim Thayil's guitar playing with Ben Shepherd's frantic bass lines and Matt Cameron's steady drumming melded well with Chris Cornell's commanding voice. Those days are over but Chris Cornell still has a solid voice. This fact was reinforced when I heard Scott Weiland a few moments later. Chris played a lot of his older hits "Spooman", "Outshined", and "Like A Stone (acoustic)". The real treat was when he played the old Temple of the Dog song "Say Hello To Heaven". It was so nostalgic that I had flashbacks of crowd surfers and flannel clothes of the grunge era.
Velvet Revolver misfired for me. I think it was mainly Scott Weiland's voice that wasn't up to par. Slash was on fire though and was ripping solos and judiciously employing his wah pedal and his Heil Talk Box. I was surprised to see him play a BC Rich red Mockingbird as I have always imagined Slash being a strict Gibson guitar guy. The latest Guitar World outlines his whole rig and it is quite extensive. Slash has three wah pedals on stage in different locations so he can shred where he wants. The one song that was marginally okay was "It's So Easy" which is more in Scott Weiland's vocal range. Slash also pulled out the double neck acoustic/electric guitar for "Patience". Scott had more problems when he tweaked his ankle jumping off the riser and was wincing in pain during the last song.
The last time I saw the Foo Fighters they rocked Dodger Stadium. Well, you can add the Home Depot Center to the long list of rocked stadiums. I still prefer their earlier albums but its hard to deny the fact that Dave Grohl has become one of the top front man of rock. With his shiny Trini Lopez blue Gibson guitar, Dave Grohl and company ran through a batch of greatest hits with two new tracks from "Echoes, Silence, Patience & Grace". Pat Smear(Nirvana) and Rami Jaffee (Wallflowers) also helped out on the new song "Long Road to Ruin" that has Dave singing more versus his normal scream style singing. I was surprised that they tossed in their cover of Prince's "Darling Nikki" and "The One" off the movie soundtrack "Orange County". When I hear the detuned guitars to "Stacked Actors" I know its time for Dave Grohl to run amongst the masses. It is a well calculated move that helps the band connect with the audience. I chuckled when they brought out a cello player for "The Pretender". I saw the cello but couldn't hear it due to the blistering guitars roaring.
Foo Fighters Setlist for the Home Depot Center (9/15/07)
"Times Like These"
"Up In Arms"
"Learn To Fly"
"Long Road To Ruin"
"Best Of You"
"All My Life"
My theory behind going to the KROQ show was that Smashing Pumpkins would play a radio friendly setlist that would hopefully include "Zero" and some of the classic pumpkins tunes. The rumble of the drums that signified the opening of "United States" quickly led me to believe that the Smashing Pumpkins would play whatever they felt like, radio hits or not. "Drown" with its drop-D tuning is a nice homage to Jimi Hendrix with its chord voicings. Billy did a crazy reverb feedback delay solo at the end of "Drown" that was jaw dropping. "1979" was ruined by some guy horribly clapping offbeat the whole song. When a song if perfomed acoustically without a drummer please don't clap unless directed by the singer. I was shocked to hear "Superchrist" but was not complaining as it is a sledgehammer of a song and I hope that it finds a proper release. It is such a dark, metallic song that I want to get a Toni Iommi Gibson SG and pound away on the riff. Jimmy Chamberlin (Drums) started to drum the intro to "Doomsday Clock" but was cut off by Billy Corgan who pointed to the Minimoog Voyager as Lisa Harriton triggered some throbbing bass lines for the intro to "Heavy Metal Machine". I could have sworn that Billy improvised some of the lyrics to "Marry Lindsey Lohan". Billy showed his comedic side when he asked the crowd to pray for Brittney Spears and dedicated "Today" to the Federlines. It seemed like an abbreviated festival set but I still had an upcoming San Diego show to go.
Smashing Pumpkins Setlist at the Home Depot Center (9/15/07)
"Bullet With Butterfly Wings"
"That's The Way"
"Bring The Light"
"Heavy Metal Machine"