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Thursday, June 1, 2023

Smashing Pumpkins, Mike Campbell perform concerts at BottleRock Napa

Downtown Napa was rockin’ on BottleRock eve, as the Smashing Pumpkins and Mike Campbell’s Dirty Knobs helped kick off the festival with winning “afterdark” shows on Thursday (March 25).

The Smashing Pumpkins’ gig was the hottest ticket of the entire festival — which continues through Sunday — offering the chance to see one of the biggest rock bands of the ’90s perform not in some sports arena, but in the intimate 650-capacity Jam Cellars Ballroom at the Napa Valley Opera House.

Not surprisingly, a capacity crowd turned out to see vocalist-guitarist Billy Corgan and company — guitarist James Iha, drummer Jimmy Chamberlin, guitarist-keyboardist Jeff Schroeder, bassist Jack Bates and vocalist-instrumentalist Katie Cole — perform such fan favorites as “Tonight, Tonight,” “Today,” “Bullet With Butterfly Wings” and “1979.”

The group opened the roughly 2-hour show with a powerful version on “Starla,” which can be found the 1994 B-sides/outtakes compilation “Pisces Iscariot,” which Corgan punctuated with a screeching, anguished guitar solo.

The Pumpkins followed up with “Rocket,” one of four tunes performed from 1993’s landmark “Siamese Dream,” before moving into the drum-propelled “Solara” from 2018’s cumbersomely titled “Shiny and Oh So Bright, Vol. 1 / LP: No Past. No Future. No Sun.”

One of the early highlights was a cover version of the Talking Heads’ “Once in a Lifetime,” which the Pumpkins deconstructed and rebuilt as a kind of an industrial dirge.

“You may find yourself living in a different part of the world called Napa, California,” Corgan sang to the crowd.

Besides playing the afterdark gig, the Pumpkins were also scheduled to perform in front of a much bigger crowd as the headliners of the Verizon Stage at BottleRock festival grounds on Friday (May 26).

The group plans to return to the area later in year as it brings its World Is a Vampire Tour to Shoreline Amphitheatre at Mountain view on Aug. 3. Stone Temple Pilots and Rival Sons are also on the bill. Visit livenation.com for details.

Over at the Uptown Theatre in downtown Napa, Mike Campbell (of Tom Petty and the Heartbreakers fame) was busy leading the Dirty Knobs through a fun set of blues-garage-rock numbers.

Campbell, of course, is one of finest rock guitarists on the planet — and he’d prove it time and time again as he rolled through a winning mixture of Dirty Knob originals, Petty classics and well-chosen cover material.

He doesn’t blaze on the frets, and is rarely showy in a way that would cause one’s jaw to drop, but he has riffs for days and he makes pretty much every single note count. He’s a model of efficiency, consistency and articulate musical expression.

And, wow, how I wish more guitarists played like him.

Campbell and the Dirty Knobs — who also were scheduled to perform on Day One of the regular BottleRock festival — delivered great covers of Chuck Berry’s “Little Queenie” and the Valentino’s “It’s All Over Now” (which most people know for the hit Rolling Stones version).

He also did fine work on the Petty numbers, such as “Refugee,” which were made all that much cooler because fellow Heartbreaker Steve Ferrone was behind the drum kit. The show ended with a blistering take on the Heartbreaker classic “Runnin’ Down a Dream,” which Campbell closed two minutes of pure fretboard fireworks.

Smashing Pumpkins setlist:

1, “Starla”

2, “Rocket”

3, “Solara”

4, “Once in a Lifetime”

5, “Eye”

6, “Ava Adore”

7, “Spellbinding”

8, “Silver(expletive)”

9, “To Sheila”

10, “Tonight, Tonight”

11, “Today”

12, “Empires”

13, “Space Age”

14, “Bullet With Butterfly Wings”

15, “Beguiled”

16, “1979”

17, “Beautiful”

18, “Cherub Rock”

19, “Zero”

Mike Campbell and the Dirty Knobs setlist:

1, “Dirty Job”

2, “Lightning Boogie”

3, “External Combustion”

4, “Fault Lines”

5, “Don’t Fade on Me”

6, “(Expletive) That Guy”

7, “Wicked Mind”

8, “Rockin’ Around (With You)”

9, “You Are the Greatest”

10, “I Still Love You”

11, “Rat City”

12, “Electric Gypsy”

13, “When the Time Comes”

14, “Sugar”

15, “Refugee”

16, “Little Queenie”

17, “Southern Boy”


18, “It’s All Over Now”

19, “Road Runner”/”Who Do You Love”/”Rollin’ and Tumblin’”/”I’m So Glad”

20, “Runnin’ Down a Dream”


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