Kurt Cobain may have made history when he picked up an acoustic guitar at MTV Unplugged, but the finest notes of American grunge music were played by Mad Season at Seattle’s Moore Theatre on April 29, 1995.
The band kicked off the memorable concert with a harsh, yet energetic version of “Lifeless Dead” and segued into a particularly haunting and emotional version of “River of Deceit” sung by Layne Staley of Alice in Chains.
The gaunt and partially gloved Staley may have been been suffering from heroin addiction, but the musician was certainly in top form that magical evening as he sang about his “self-chosen” pain and “head full of lies…tied to my waist.”
The next song, entitled “I Don’t Know Anything” allowed Pearl Jam’s Mike McCready to show off his formidable guitar skills while Barrett Martin of the Screaming Trees engaged in some heavy, yet controlled drumming.
Mark Lanegan of the Screaming Trees joined Mad Season for a smooth, saxophone-dominated rendition of “Long Gone Day,” which the long-haired vocalist sang while holding a still smoking joint in one hand.
The Neil Young influenced “X-Ray Mind” and awe inspiring “All Alone” were up next, followed by an intense 10+ minute jam session which ended when McCready smashed his guitar into an amp.
Mad Season was formed in 1994 by four prominent members of the Seattle grunge scene: Layne Staley, (Alice in Chains) Mike McCready (Pearl Jam) Barrett Martin (Screaming Trees) and John Baker Saunders (The Walkabouts).
Unfortunately, the band only managed to release one album – Above – which is best known for the single entitled “River of Deceit.”
Substance abuse issues forced the four to embark on a permanent hiatus in 1996 and disband in 1999 following the death of bassist Saunders from a heroin overdose.
Layne Staley passed away in April in 2002 after injecting a mixture of heroin and cocaine known as a “speedball.”