The Smashing Pumpkins: The World Is A Vampire Tour, PICA Port Melbourne, April 22nd 2023 – Live Review

The World is a Vampire Tour is more like a mini festival. With its singular stage, you won’t have to sacrifice seeing one performer over the other. And with this line-up, I would have been gutted to have missed any of them.

If you’re not too keen on standing at the barrier all night, Billy Corgan’s love of wrestling will keep you entertained. Yes, wrestling! With a ring setup outside, you can catch the NWA (National Wrestling Alliance) and the WAOA (Wrestling Alliance of Australia) battle it out in between sets.

I would have been excited enough to finally see The Smashing Pumpkins live, but the addition of Battlesnake, Amyl and the Sniffers, Jane’s Addiction, and local support XCalibre, just made the whole thing so much sweeter. I know some people want to save time or don’t have any interest in the opening acts, but all of these bands are so solid and will make the whole experience so much better. Not only do you get more music, but you will also be supporting some outstanding local talent.

The first band were Melbourne locals, XCalibre. Despite it being early, the locals showcased a sound that brought the crowd to the stage. The band’s energy was matched with those in the crowd and by the end of their set, the most certainly gained a few extra fans.

In the lead up to this show, I’ve been telling everyone about the pure theatrical fun that is Battlesnake. For those of you that haven’t heard of them, Battlesnake bring a sacrilegious, old school metal energy that would make the Prince of Darkness himself proud. Stepping out in catholic priest garb, front man Sam Frank was adorned with gold jewel horns and pointed gloves. He had the power that matched the energy of the great metal bands of the 1970s. If you are not already convinced, acting as the band’s flag bearer and keytarist, Billy O’Key exemplifies Battlesnake’s genius and overall metal concept. Battlesnake are undoubtedly one of the most fun and bewitching bands you’ll experience.

After Battlesnake, the high level of energy was continued courtesy of another Melbourne band, Amyl and the Sniffers. Carried onto the stage by wrestler, ‘ThrillBilly’ Silas Mason, Amy Taylor was met by ecstatic cheers from the audience. Seeing clips of Amyl and the Sniffers online is one thing, but to experience them live is a wild ride. Amy Taylor continues her reputation as an enigmatic front woman. Whilst comparisons to Chrissy Amphlett are valid and correct, I would compare her primal magnetism to the iconic Iggy Pop. Smashing out crowd favourites and pure bangers with ‘Some Mutts (Can’t be Muzzled)’, ‘Guided by Angels’ and ‘Security’. Amy’s respect for her crowd is unmatched, challenging anyone to a fight if they made others feel unsafe.

Amyl and the Sniffers, undoubtably have an epic front woman, but the other band members match Amy’s energy. Guitarist Dec Martens finger picking is hypnotic, and if you stare at him for too long you might have a hard time looking away. Ending their epic set with ‘Hertz’, Amyl and the Sniffers had strengthened their relationship with current fans and no doubt secured a bunch of new fans.

I’ll have to admit my knowledge of Janes Addiction is limited to their albums featuring Dave Navarro, so his absence did hinder my interest a little bit. Their sound mixing was the weakest after a truly solid mixing for all the other bands. Despite Navarro’s absence, Perry Farrell still fronted the band like a man possessed. Sadly, the energy from the crowd after the previous bands, Janes Addiction seemed to drop the ball a little bit. Still as great live band, the crowd’s reaction appeared to juxtapose this.

Now was the moment we’d all been waiting for, The Smashing Pumpkins. Starting with a reworked version of ‘Atum’ and fading into ‘Empires’, it was clear that Billy Corgan hadn’t lost anything since the band’s incarnation. It’s been almost 30 years since the release of ‘Mellon Collie and the Infinite Sadness’ so I could forgive Billy Corgan if he had lost some his vocal power. But my worries were put at ease as he snarled into ‘Bullet with Butterfly Wings’, complete with the same angst as the record from 1995.

Billy Corgan has always been praised for his setlist composition, the first half was mostly slower songs featuring sweet moments between Corgan and James Iha. Corgan handed the reigns over to Iha more than I expected. One example of this was Iha’s heartfelt cover of ‘The Churches Under the Milky Way‘. Iha’s rendition fit beautifully with the vibe and didn’t stall the show. My heart skipped a beat as the two played a stunning acoustic version of ‘Tonight, Tonight’. Experiencing my favourite songs played live and sounding amazing, will always put me on cloud nine, and this show was no exception.

The second half of the show was much heavier and featured more of their popular radio hits and the crowd’s energy roared into action. And whilst The Smashing Pumpkins have a wide range of songs to choose from, Corgan added in some covers too. One came as an almost unrecognisable version of the Talking Heads’ ‘Once in a Lifetime’ and it oozed Billy Corgan’s signature innovation. A moment that did seem a little bit out of place was a short tribute to John Farnham with vocalist Katie Cole performing the chorus of ‘You’re The Voice’ acapella. Whilst Cole does have an incredible voice, I do question why this song was chosen as the song leading up to the band members introduction.

The final songs to end the show couldn’t have been more perfect. Opting for some of the heaviest songs from their extensive discography, ‘Cherub Rock’, sent the crowd into a frenzy. And whilst it came directly after the slower section of the set, it wasn’t jarring as it was apparent this was what the audience were waiting for. As excited as the crowd had been for ‘Cherub Rock’, it was ‘1979’ and ‘Zero’ that brought on an irresistible urge to dance. As the two songs are probably The Smashing Pumpkins’ most known tracks, this reaction from the crowd wasn’t surprising.

Corgan has received criticism over the years for his egotistical attitude and self-indulgent guitar solos, but I think if you’ve got the skills to back it up, why not? And Corgan most definitely obliged. Towards the end of the set, Corgan altered ‘Beguiled’ and ‘Silverfuck’ and ripped into the aforementioned guitar solos. His skills paired with the tremendous lighting design was bewitching and hypnotic, making it near impossible to look away from the stage.

Billy Corgan does have a reputation for being a perfectionist, and if this show is the result, I can’t criticise him one bit. He certainly knows how to give the audience their monies worth. Everyone involved in this show must be praised. Sound, lighting, mixing, tech, and the whole crew behind the scenes have produced a perfect concert experience.

The Smashing Pumpkins may be one of the greatest rock bands I’ve ever seen perform. They haven’t lost that spark that catapulted them to fame in the 90s. And if they are still going this strong after more than 30 years, there is no doubt they will continue to impress crowds around the world for years to come.

The World Is A Vampire Tour is touring around Australia this April. With only six shows left of the Australian leg with Ballarat on April 23rd, Adelaide on April 26th, Melbourne again on April 27th, Newcastle on April 29th, and the Gold Coast on April 30th, don’t miss your chance to experience this unique concert experience.

For more information, dates and ticketing, visit:

Photography by Grant Alexander.

Sign up to receive weekly updates on our most recent reviews.

Leave a Reply

Your email address will not be published. Required fields are marked *