With a giant digital globe hanging over his head, harsher critics could make an easy comparison between that and the size of Billy Corgan's infamously inflated ego.

But there was little of Corgan's famed arrogance on display as he took to Auckland's Vector Arena last night with the Smashing Pumpkins, showing off a new-look live show that included a huge multimedia orb hovering above the stage.

Corgan was a polite, humble, engaging and - dare we say it - happy presence as the Chicago-based band worked through their new album Oceania in its entirety for just the fourth time live.

The 45-year-old has plenty to smile about: Oceania has been the band's most critically acclaimed record since 1995's Mellon Collie and the Infinite Sadness and is a welcome return to form after 2007's underwhelming comeback Zeitgeist, and the loss of original drummer Jimmy Chamberlain.


Corgan continually thanked the reduced Vector crowd after the quartet - including guitarist Jeff Schroeder, drummer Mike Byrne and bassist Nicole Fiorentino - ripped through Oceania's blistering opening stanza.

That included the head-spinning thump of Quasar, the pounding positivity of Panopticon and The Celestials - a Corgan singalong special that's worthy of inclusion on the band's landmark 1993 album Siamese Dream.

Other standouts included the shimmering ballad Pinwheels, the epic and moody shapechanging title track that finished with a classic Corgan guitar freak out, and One Diamond, One Heart, which came with an electro stomp like something from the band's controversial but underrated 1998 record Adore.

It was a brave move to perform the entire record live, but aside from the odd joker yelling "Play something we all know!" it worked, and the warped cover of David Bowie's Space Oddity felt like a nice transition into the greatest hits part of the set.

The show's second-half crowd-pleasers included Bullet With Butterfly Wings, Cherub Rock, Today and a fiery Zero, but also came with plenty of surprises, like reworked versions of Disarm and Ava Adore that turned those '90s classics into bassy, riff-driven anthems.

Best of all was the pure metal shredding of XYU as Corgan thumped his chest and smashed his microphone stand as he shrieked his way through the song's iconic line "And in the eyes of the jackal I say, Ka-boom!" like it was the '90s all over again.

Maybe some of the old Corgan arrogance is still there. But when Siamese Dream's Luna made an appearance - a song that hasn't been performed live for 18 years and comes with the soppy but stirring chorus, "I'm in love with you" - it proved that no matter what his mood, Corgan is always worth listening to.

What: Smashing Pumpkins
Where: Vector Arena, Auckland
When: Saturday, August 4

Photos courtesy of Jenna Todd.

* What did you think of the show? Post your comments below.

- Herald online