After the release of their self-titled album in 1995 Alice In Chains effectively retired from live performance. After choosing not to tour the album, rumours circulated that all was not well within the band. Alice In Chains made only one more live appearance with original frontman Layne Staley, for MTV’s Unplugged show.
The first phase of the band’s career ground to a halt. Chief songwriter/guitarist Jerry Cantrell and vocalist Layne Staley drifted apart. In April 2002, Layne Staley was found dead. Only a couple of weeks before, in an interview, Cantrell had said he hadn’t ruled out working with Staley again… It was a bittersweet time: Cantrell’s second album ‘Degradation Trip’ was completed, ready for a June release. It sounded more like Alice In Chains than his first, with the spirit of the recently deceased Staley cutting through various tracks, especially ‘Bargain Basement Howard Hughes’.
In 2005, the almost unthinkable happened. Jerry Cantrell teamed up with his old Alice In Chains bandmates, bassist Mike Inez and drummer Sean Kinney and resurrected the Alice In Chains name. After a benefit show with guest vocalists, they drafted in Cantrell’s buddy William DuVall and played sporadic live shows, to enthusiastic audiences.
…And in 2009, the band released ‘Black Gives Way To Blue’, a new studio album featuring DuVall as a permanent band member. Some fans were skeptical, claiming Layne was vital to Alice In Chains. These fans missed something almost as vital: Layne Staley’s input to 2005’s ‘Alice In Chains’ album was bordering on minimal. Not only had Cantrell taken on the mantle of being the band’s principal song writer, he also stepped up his vocal contributions, having a hefty presence on huge chunks of the release. If Alice In Chains were anything at all by the time of their hiatus, it was Jerry Cantrell’s show. If he wanted to write new songs and keep the spirit of AIC alive, then there shouldn’t be any reason why not. …Especially when, as with ‘Bargain Basement Howard Hughes’ some of the new songs almost sounded as if Layne was still present.
In November 2011, they performed a set at the Maquinaria Festival in Chile featuring a host of classic tracks from their back catalogue alongside a couple of numbers from the still recent ‘Black Gives Way To Blue’. Despite the band having returned to the recording studio in the summer, the set contained no new material. The complete show was filmed professionally and can be enjoyed below.