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Smashing Pumpkins Rocked the Riviera


“Oh, Chicago, I’m coming home to you,” Billy Corgan sang Friday at the sold-out Riviera.

Not that he ever really left, but for Corgan and the latest incarnation of the Smashing Pumpkins this was something of a homecoming, showcasing a new lineup and previewing a batch of fresh songs from a forthcoming album, “Oceania.” It also was an opportunity to re-energize a fan base that even Corgan acknowledged has been severely tested in recent years amid lineup machinations and indifferently received music.

The lean, shaven-headed singer is one of the most successful figures ever in Chicago music, an architect of ‘90s alternative rock, and also one of the most polarizing. So he was wise to let his songs do most of the talking. He pretty much stowed the on-stage editorializing and audience-baiting that marred his last major Chicago appearances in 2008 and got down to the business of playing more than two hours of music with guitarist Jeff Schroeder, drummer Mike Byrne and bassist Nicole Fiorentino.

Corgan has discarded all his original bandmates, and has been vilified for it. His response has always been to recruit new musicians, write more songs and tour as much as possible to rebuild the franchise (for those keeping count, this lineup marks at least the fifth major incarnation of the band since the early ‘90s).

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