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Not even the anticipated torrential rain could spoil the vibe at Cardiff castle as a very busy early crowd prepare to greet openers, Teen Mortgage. This two piece are no strangers to the big stage and set about instantly delivering riff after riff as they get the crowd going with their skate punk infused, scuzz drenched rock and roll. The two-piece tear through a set of chaotic, crowd pleasing noise and despite a slightly muddy mix, it’s safe to say Teen Mortgage win the crowd over.

As the rain continues to lash down and the now surging crowd get into the mood, Weezer take to the stage with huge applause. Weezer rose to fame in the mid 90’s with their debut album reaching stratospheric sales heights thanks to a trio of hit singles and by the time set opener ‘My name is Jonas’ reaches it’s first chorus it’s clear the band sound better than ever as the crowd all hold aloft the iconic “W” hand gesture.

It’s easy to forget how relevant Weezer’s power pop back catalogue is to modern rock music as the hits keep coming with ‘Beverley Hills’ in which Rivers Coumo jokingly swaps the lyrics for “Cardiff, Wales”. ‘Undone – the sweater song’ and ‘Island in the sun’ continue the singalongs and an electrifying cover of Hole’s ‘Celebrity Skin’ send the crowd into a frenzy. Rivers Coumo’s vocals are as fresh as ever and the whole band sound huge.

‘Say it ain’t so’ gets the biggest sing along of the evening and by the time ‘Buddy Holly’ blasts from the PA, every single person in the crowd was singing like their life depended on it. Definitely worth the eye watering ticket price alone.

Being the Pumpkins’ first Welsh appearance since 1993, anticipation felt sky high with a fizzing atmosphere as a spectacularly dressed Billy Corgan and Co take to the stage launching straight into the grungy opening riff of ‘The Everlasting Gaze’.

The Pumpkins sound incredible right from the off, with Jimmy Chamberlain’s drums filing the Castle grounds. A cover of U2’s ‘Zoo station’ is well received and the Pumpkins get the biggest cheer of the night so far during the opening notes of ‘Today’. Corgan has often courted controversy with regards to set-list choices, but the set flows perfectly as the band delivers a lesser known track ‘Through the eyes of Ruby’ into brand new material in the form of ‘Spellbinding’ and back to the anthem, ‘Tonight tonight’ which collectively sends shivers down the crowds’ spine.

“Most of you weren’t alive in 93”, Billy jokes to an extremely diverse range of ages, proving that the Pumpkins’ music transcend generations. ‘Ava Adore’ and ‘Disarm’ continue the singalongs with new guitarist, Kiki Wong sounding spectacular on her Cardiff debut as she stalks the stage, interacting with the front row and generally looking like she’s been part of the band for decades.

Set highlight ‘Mayonnaise’ gets the crowd singing back the guitar hook as much as the chorus as Cardiff Castle sings in unison “try to understand, that when I can, I will” followed by possibly the biggest singalong of the night with ‘Bullet with butterfly wings’ sending the chorus soaring into the dark and drizzle.

By now it’s clear this isn’t just a tour to top up the retirement funds. The Pumpkins sound energised with Corgan’s vocals thankfully sounding album perfect. The whole band are clearly having fun, feeding off the crowd’s energy and for gear heads, this is tone mecha. The Pumpkins trade mark sound built over the course of their first three studio albums is pitch perfect. All three guitarists sound absolutely huge as every last fuzzed out note and whammy pedal squeal rings true with both James and Billy improvising on solos and clearly enjoying doing so.

Safe to say the crowd are an emotional high as the glitchy drum loop intro to ‘1979’ spits from the speakers and the soaked masses dig deep for yet again another deafening singalong as the torrential rain, now serving as an epic addition to the spectacular light show persists but clearly unaffecting everyones enjoyment.

The band finish off the night with towering back to back classics in ‘Cherub Rock’ and ‘ZERO’. Both of which get the biggest air guitar action of the night and it’s safe to say the entire venue is on cloud nine. This gig proved to be an emotional and cathartic trip down memory lane, stirring up raw connections and reminding us how much their music has shaped our lives. It may have taken them 31 years to return, but with every passing song it was clear the Pumpkins not only hold a very special place in the hearts of the Welsh, but are still on form and are surely one of the best live bands on the planet.

Words: Chris James & Carys Griffiths

Images: Carys Griffiths