Concert Review: William Patrick Corgan @ Athenaeum Theatre, Chicago, IL

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William Patrick Corgan (photo courtesy of That Eric Alper – http://www.thatericalper.com/2017/10/21/photo-gallery-william-patrick-corgan-torontos-queen-elizabeth-theatre/)

All Concert Photos Courtesy of That Eric Alper

Billy Corgan…err…I mean William Patrick Corgan, came home to Chicago for two intimate, acoustic shows at the cozy Athenaeum Theatre this week. I caught the first show on Tuesday, October 24th, but both featured Corgan performing his new solo album, Ogilala, in its entirety before a brief intermission, which was followed by a sampling of songs from his lifetime before the new album’s release.

Judging from the set list of Wednesday’s show, I kind of wish I had seen that one, instead. The selection of songs were more familiar (not just hits, but deeper cuts I love) than Tuesday’s was (for me). But I shouldn’t complain, I got in for free and I did enjoy the evening.

(photo courtesy of That Eric Alper – http://www.thatericalper.com/2017/10/21/photo-gallery-william-patrick-corgan-torontos-queen-elizabeth-theatre/)

First, the Ogilala set. I haven’t warmed to Corgan’s latest just yet, but listening to the songs live made me want to dig deeper, at least. I may not have always understood immediately what Corgan was singing about, but there was always something about what he was singing, or, more accurately, how he sang it, that hit me on an emotional level. With Ogilala, I feel a bit removed, passive actually. The knee jerk reaction to it would be that artist and listener have reached an impasse, but I’ve stuck with Corgan for nearly 30 years now, so I’m going to give him the benefit of the doubt and continue to come back to this set of music in the hopes that it finds a way to worm its way into my heart.

For now, the Ogilala set felt a bit perfunctory to get through in order to hear songs more familiar. The crowd, some of which were many, many beers in by this point (that intermission didn’t do those that like to drink any favors) definitely opened up for recognizable material. But the constant over emphatic yelling and then moronic talking back when Corgan decided to speak to the audience was unbelievably boorish and grating. I’m sorry, but having to deal with these sorts of assholes at concerts is precisely why I don’t go to many anymore. Be aware of your surroundings, people. You’re at an acoustic show in a small theatre that holds around 1,000 people tops. Be mature. Don’t yell out track selections and don’t ask “Where’s D’Arcy?,” you fucking animals. Oddly enough, Pumpkins/Zwan drummer Jimmy Chamberlin tweeted out how much he enjoyed the show, so he was in attendance.

(photo courtesy of That Eric Alper – http://www.thatericalper.com/2017/10/21/photo-gallery-william-patrick-corgan-torontos-queen-elizabeth-theatre/)

With a fantastic, elegiac “Starla,” from Pisces Iscariot, Corgan reached deep into his catalog, including some unreleased songs, a few covers (Tim Hardin‘s “If I Were a Carpenter”, Fleetwood Mac by way of the Pumpkins’ “Landslide,” and Pink Floyd‘s “Wish You Were Here”) and even a Zwan song (“Of a Broken Heart”).

Particular high points included renditions of “Muzzle” (Mellon Collie and the Infinite Sadness), “Soma” (Siamese Dream), Annie-Dog (Adore) and “Farewell and Goodnight” (Mellon Collie), which was both an obvious and perfect ending to the evening. It was also cool to hear some Mellon Collie songs as it was the 22nd anniversary of the album’s release that day.

Corgan engaged little with the audience (see above for perhaps the reason why), and even he turned nasty at one point, blaming it on the 90s vibe of some of the songs. As you can see in the photos attached (which were taken by That Eric Alper from the Toronto shows, thank you for those), Corgan’s outfit was quite…odd. He was dressed as if he was a Northern soldier in the Civil War. No explanation, except that there was a character similarly dressed in the story backdrop projected while Corgan played at one point (the art on the backdrop was pretty remarkable, occasionally more so than the performance, if I’m being honest, but not often). Maybe the backdrop, the costume and the album tie in somehow. Again, I gotta dig deeper. That’s on me. Go check him out on the dates below and judge for yourself.

William Patrick Corgan (photo: Alpha Pan)

William Patrick Corgan North American Tour Dates:

November 9– Los Angeles, CA. Masonic Lodge @ Hollywood Forever Cemetery – SOLD OUT
November 10– Los Angeles, CA. Masonic Lodge @ Hollywood Forever Cemetery – SOLD OUT
November 11– Los Angeles, CA. Masonic Lodge @ Hollywood Forever Cemetery – SOLD OUT
November 12 – Los Angeles, CA. Masonic Lodge @ Hollywood Forever Cemetery – SOLD OUT
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