Jan. 25, 2003

Zwan Takes Chicago Under Wing

By Randy J. Klodz

The bald-headed Billy Corgan took the stage donning a black and white checkered sweater, and a huge grin--something not readily seen on Corgan as a member of the Smashing Pumpkins. Corgan took the Metro stage on Jan. 25, the last of a series of five sold-out shows that week, with a new band called Zwan, and opened the doors for yet another successful Corgan-fronted outfit, although the debut album “Mary Star of the Sea” didn’t hit stores until Jan. 28.

The Smashing Pumpkins ended their long run in musical history on this very Metro stage in December of 2000, and with a three-year hiatus Corgan has returned to front Zwan, a five-piece All-Star line-up that includes: Corgan on guitar and vocals, Matt Sweeney (Skunk) and David Pajo (Slint, Tortoise) on guitars and vocals, Paz Lenchantin (A Perfect Circle) on bass and vocals, and fellow ex-Smashing Pumpkin Jimmy Chamberlain on drums.

Zwan took the stage with a simple white sheet providing the backdrop, opening the set with the title track from the debut album “Mary Star of the Sea,” which includes an instrumental introduction that lasted for several minutes.

Though the packed crowd seemed in tune with each of Zwan’s offerings, no song received more attention than the first single, “Honestly,” with its radio friendly light rock tinge and catchy “’Cause there's no place that I could be without you, honestly” hook.

Lenchantin, with her back to the crowd, crossed her raised arms as Corgan’s lyrics “Jesus, I've taken my cross / All to leave and follow thee / Jesus, I've taken my cross / All to leave and follow thee,” echoed during a version of “Jesus, I.” This live version included an added “God’s Gonna Set This World on Fire” section.

Corgan deviated from the otherwise positive-laced set by playing “Of a Broken Heart,” which Corgan prefaced “This is a sad song, in opposition of all our other happy songs.” Other set highlights included “Lyric,” “Endless Summer,” “Settle Down,” and a cover of Alice Cooper’s “I’m Eighteen.”

Just as the band set up for the first encore, the song “Come With Me,” Corgan appeared on stage, bearing gifts, literally. As Corgan handed gift bags to each member of the band he said, “Since we were all busy during the Christmas season and this is Jan. 25, I’m making this a Zwan Christmas.”

Fans also received a Zwan Christmas present--a second encore, this one complete with “Riverview” and fan-favorite live track “Spilled Milk.”

“Mary Star of the Sea” released on Jan. 28 and has a limited number of copies that include DVD footage. For more information on Zwan, check out www.zwan.com.
Zwan: Corgan, Lenchantin, Pajo Photo: Randy J. Klodz