Photos by Brandon Patoc Photography
A Mad Season reunion? An evening at the symphony? Perhaps, a Seahawks rally? You could say yes to all. Walking into Benoroya Hall on Friday, January 30, 2015, it looked like it could be a rally, as the lobby broke out into Sea-Hawks chants several times. But, in fact, we were all here for a long awaited and sold out Mad Season reunion. Performed by the Seattle Symphony, Mike McCready, Chris Cornell, Duff McKagan, Barrett Martin along with special guests.
The evening started off with the world premiere of three original symphony pieces. The first was called “Ashes” composed by Yann Robin. The hauntingly, dark song was inspired by the sounds of Seattle music and the final words of Kurt Cobain’s letter, “It’s better to burn out, than to fade away.” While listening to “Ashes,” you are taken back in time to sounds of the 90’s, and though the tune is not familiar, you get the feeling, if Kurt’s torment had a sound, this song captures it in a achingly beautiful way.
The second piece of the evening was “Beyond Much Difference,” composed by Angelique Poteat. This piece was influenced by the music of Seattle artists Pearl Jam. It had a much lighter feeling to it than the previous piece, even whimsical at times, but the same could be said if comparing Pearl Jam and Nirvana, the groups inspiring these symphonic arrangements.
The last symphony piece “Walking The Horizon,” was composed by McCready. This had the vibe of the 90’s music that transported you back in time to an amazing turning point in music. Mike McCready on guitar, joined by Matt Cameron, of Pearl Jam and Soundgarden, on drums, created a real rock sound to accompany the symphony instruments and choir. Where the first two had the sounds of the 90’s, this definitely had the feel of the 90’s and brought the crowd to a standing ovation for McCready and conductor, Ludovic Morlot.
As we return from intermission, we are all anxious to hear a rock concert. We definitely got what we were hoping for and more. The symphony performed along with McCready- guitar, Cornell-vocals, McKagen-bass guitar, and Martin-drums, together, they performed Mad Season’s “I Don’t Know Anything”, “River of Deceit,” and “Long Gone Day.” This was an amazing combination. The orchestra blended so well with the band. When I think “symphony,” I can’t imagine people dancing in the balcony, but they were. In fact the crowd was on their feet for the rest of the evening.
The band and the orchestra took a bow and walked off stage. This is all that was in the program for the evening. So the surprise was about to come. The band came back on stage joined by Kim Virant to perform “Wake Up’ then relieved by Jeff Angel (of Walking Papers) to perform “lifeless Dead” and rejoined to cover “I’m Above” together. Benoroya Hall was alive with emotion, provoking tears from much of the audience.
Just as it seemed it couldn’t get any better, it did. All, but McCready, left the stage and was joined by Cameron, Stone Gossard, Jeff Ament of Pearl Jam, and Cornell. They killed it performing, “Call It a Dog” and “Reach Down.” To polish off the night, and truly honor Layne Staley, McCready stated, “it’s straight from the heart and out of love and respect to Layne.” McCready, joined by Sean Kinney, McKagan, and Martin, with lyrics previously recorded of Staley, played in unison, a moving version of “All Alone,” which brought many to tears. This was an amazing night of music and a worthy tribute that those lucky enough to attend will never forget.