I see a lot of shows – I mean, A LOT of shows and it is not often that I find myself surprised by anything I see but, last night, at Blossom Music Center I had the honor to bear witness to a truly unique concert experience. Three bands were in town, none of which I had ever seen live before and none of which I would particularly call myself a fan of but by the end of the evening, I found my opinion of live music forever changed.

Kicking the show off was the loud and brash AFI. Have to be honest, prior to this set, I had never heard one note of their music but, they rocked out a tight, loud and incredibly inspired short set that demanded you stop and listen. Upon returning to my car, the first thing I did was look them up on Apple Music and added them to my playlist so – I’d call that a big win for the band. Really enjoyed their short but effective time on stage.

Coming up next – pretty much in co-headliner status was Noel Gallagher’s High Flying Birds. Growing up in the ’70s and coming of age in the ’80s – a lot of, OK, most of the music of the ’90s is lost on me – I was busy raising my family and still listening to my hairband cassettes – and for that reason – the music of Noel Gallagher was a bit of a mystery to me. Turns out – he’s a freaking legend – and with good reason. The one-time singer and guitarist for Oasis – this man has amassed a huge following – and a musical legacy worth taking note of. Hitting the stage with a huge band – Mr. Gallagher took control of the stage like the seasoned professional he is – racing through four or five songs, pretty much non stop. An eclectic band of musicians – The High Flying Birds sported a full horn section and a scissor player. What?

That’s not a typo – one of the ladies performing on stage had an odd array of instruments at her disposal – but by far the most interesting was the scissors – which she did pull out of the arsenal on a few occasions. Personally – I needed more scissor but, who am I to question the songwriters.

I found myself rather mesmerized by the quality and diversity of sounds that permeated Noel Gallagher’s one hour set – and although I personally was not familiar with the man’s catalog, obviously most, if not all the rest of the crowd was well versed – singing along, dancing and swaying to pretty much every number. The second half of the bands set was a greatest hits collection of Oasis highpoints and got the nights biggest reaction with their version of Don’t Look Back In Anger – they then ended their set with a true classic – pulling out a cover of The Beatles All You Need Is Love.

As with AFI – I found myself wondering just how in the hell this band’s amazing music was not in my solid rotation. Rest assured – it is now.

One band left – The Smashing Pumpkins – enjoying a resurgence this past year – and a band that in their own way, defines a generation. Billy Corgan’s haunting voice and deeply personal lyrical style speaking to many. For this tour the band sported three of the original four members and they hit the stage and instantly had the fans dancing and singing in the isles. Opening with Today – the show kicked off with an amazing light show – that while simplistic – was incredibly effective. The stage featured three huge inflatable clowns – for lack of a better description – that interacted with the lighting design to bring a truly unique, almost carnival-like atmosphere to the evening.

While giving us a few songs from their latest release – the band, for the most part, stuck to the hits – and the fans loved it. There were times when I’m sure the sound of the crowd singing along was louder than the sound from the stage – and this occurred on many different occasions with Bullet With Butterfly Wings appearing to have the biggest and loudest reaction. 1979 and Tonight, Tonight also warrant special mention.

Personally – I had a working knowledge of The Smashing Pumpkins – I always found Billy Corgan to be an interesting and talented musician and songwriter but after last night I am here to tell you that honestly, you have never heard The Smashing Pumpkins if you have not seen and heard them live. There is a whole different vibe and energy to Corgan’s music that comes across in a live setting. It’s communal and infectious and something you really need to experience for yourself. Some bands struggle to bring their sound to a live setting – The Smashing Pumpkins were born to perform live – to be experienced live – their recordings can in no way prepare you for the different way you will perceive the band’s message and appreciate their artistry.

This show was an eye opening experience for me – and has re-established my love for discovering and being surprised by an artists vision and passion.

The band played a 17 song – 90-minute set that left the fans screaming for more – just the way it’s supposed to happen.

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