Chilling Live Footage of Layne Staley Performing with Mad Season in 1995
I’m not sure how I’m just hearing about this, but last week Legacy Recordings released a re-issued, deluxe version of Above, the one and only album by Seattle-based supergroup Mad Season. Mad Season featured Pearl Jam guitarist Mike McCready, Screaming Trees drummer Barrett Martin, bassist John Baker Saunders, and, most notably, Alice in Chains vocalist Layne Staley. The deluxe re-release includes an unreleased full concert DVD of the band’s 1995/1996 New Year’s Eve performance in Seattle, what would end up being their final show ever.
Watching this video of the band’s best-known track, “River of Deceit,” from that show it’s hard not to analyze Layne’s every move and state of well-being and to wonder where, exactly, in his long, painful decline we’re seeing him here. When he performed with AIC for the now famous Unplugged session less than a year later he was a walking corpse, shades on, skin covered from head to toe to conceal trackmarks, seated on a stool completely still. Here he looks beyond skinny, his coat hanging loosely off his frame, all but his fingertips covered up (however cold it was in the club that day it couldn’t have necessitated a jacket and gloves); he certainly doesn’t look like the picture of health. But he looks aware, cognitive, focused — unlike at the Unplugged show a few months later — and his vocals are strong. And, man, he’s so young here. So sad.
Enough depressing shit. Watch this video. It’s fucking great.