Denny Laine

City Winery, NYC

Denny Laine & The Moody Wings Band
City Winery - NYC - 1/11/18
Review & Photos - Rebecca Wolf

If asked to pinpoint two specific things about me that hint at who I am as an individual, most people I know would quite easily note that I absolutely love the 1970s and I have a passion for music. While my love for the 1970s goes above and beyond the music, I must say my passion for 70s music, be it rock (now “classic rock”), soft rock, pop, R&B, and disco, can be extreme. For most people, music from their past may bring up distant memories and feelings. For me, while I rarely have specific memories attached to songs, I feel strong reactions in my gut and my heart that emotionally transport me back to that place and time. These feelings can be so distinct that when a song comes on the radio and I allow them to sweep over me, I can generally pinpoint the year of a song (and possibly the season), as I am brought right back to that time in my life. “This song is from fall 1978,” I tell my daughter as we’re driving in the car. “I feel it’s the beginning of 8th grade; google it,” I request. “It was released September 1978,” she states as she shakes her head. “How do you always know?” “Just brings me back there….I just feel it,” I laugh. “You’re weird,” she states.

Why am I writing about my deep emotional connections to music? It is this passion that I bring every time I attend a concert of a musician from the 70s. Having the opportunity to be in the presence of the original artists that sang songs I hold dear to my heart is an honor to me. As we hit 2019, most of these artists from the 1970s are now in their 70s. That is hard for most of us who grew up in that era to believe, as we can’t believe our own ages! However, it has been 40-50 years since many of these artists began their careers and were in their prime. The fact that they are on stage now, and have energy and passion to continue performing, is an amazing feat, for some more than others.
 
While continuing to play a musical instrument may be something an artist can remain skilled at, with practice and muscle memory (if physical restraints don’t get in the way), it’s not always the same with vocal abilities. Vocal cords don’t always retain the same strength, flexibility and tone. However, many artists maintain a connection to their music and their fans and still have the passion to perform. In order to do so, they build a strong band of musicians around them, who support their strengths and weaknesses, and allow them to showcase their music, to fans who appreciate seeing original artists, singing the original songs they loved, even if the sound might not be the same.

When I heard Denny Laine would be at City Winery, I was brought back in time to it one of my favorite bands as a pre-teen and young teenager…Wings. I knew getting to hear an original Wings member sing songs from one of their albums (aside from Paul McCartney, whom I’ve also seen), would be a thrill. Denny Laine is a founding member of two major British rock bands, The Moody Blues, whom he played with from 1964-1966 and Paul McCartney and Wings, whom he was with from 1971-1981. As a member of the Moody Blues, Laine sang the group’s first big hit, “Go Now”, as well a several hits in the UK. However, his tenure with the band was short-lived. After leaving the Moody Blues Laine tried his hand in several bands before joining Paul McCartney and forming Wings in 1971, remaining with Wings until it disbanded in 1981. During his time in Wings, Laine played lead, rhythm and bass guitar, as well as keyboards and woodwinds, sang lead and backing vocals, and was writer and cowriter on a number of the band’s songs. During the 10 year life of the band there were periods when Wings consisted of only Paul and Linda McCartney and Laine. It was this trio who wrote and recorded the band’s most acclaimed album, Band On The Run. During the Wings years, Laine released several solo albums, and continued to do so during the 80s, as well as albums in 1996 and 2008. From 1997-2002 Laine toured with the rock supergroup World Classic Rockers but has since been touring as a solo artist, with his own band.
Laine’s current band, The Moody Wing Band, is made up of talented musicians and vocalists, who sing lead on various songs, as well as harmonize with Laine on others. At the  January 11th performance at City winery, the opening of the show was dedicated to the start of Laine’s career….with The Moody Blues. However, the real thrill for the audience came when Laine began the first strums of “Band On The Run”, followed by 13 additional Wings songs. “Band On The Run” is a song that requires strong vocal power. While Laine wasn’t consistently able to produce that level of output, his incredible energy, along with the backing vocals of his bandmates, gave the enthusiastic audience the nostalgia they were looking for. Encouraged by Laine, the crowd happily and loudly sang along with each repetition of the chorus.

“Jet”, the second Wings song of the night, was fabulously sung by the band’s keyboardist. The keyboardist later joined the bass player in singing “Mamunia”, and their voices blended beautifully during this sweet, low-key song. During the performance the keyboardist and bass player sang with Laine for several numbers, and the three created wonderful harmonies together. These musicians are the perfect bandmates for Laine, along with the additional guitarists, drummer, and saxophone player.  It’s apparent these artists get great enjoyment from performing these wonderfully nostalgic songs, they respect Laine’s history and talent, and they do their best to support his efforts, in whatever capacity is needed.
 
As our favorite artists get older, and inevitably less capable of being the performers they were 20, 30 and 40 years ago, what we all should hope for is that they remain well-enough and interested enough enough to continue on the road, sharing their lifetime of work with their fans. Whatever supports keep my favorite artists out there, so I can see them doing what they love and sharing that nostalgia with me, I welcome.  During Denny Laine’s encore he played “The Note You Never Wrote To Me”, from Wings At The Speed of Sound. I was 10 years old in March 1976 when this album was released. I knew every word of every song on the album. “The Note You Never Wrote To Me” was one of my favorites. Sitting in my childhood bedroom 40+ years ago, I never could’ve fathomed that one day I’d have the opportunity to see (and photograph) an original member of my beloved Wings. What a thrill to have this chance. If given the opportunity to see one of your beloved musicians/bands, but fear they’ll be past their prime, I’d say grab it and enjoy it…you may not get the chance again.

SETLIST
Magnificent Moodies:
I'll Go Crazy - (James Brown & The Famous Flames cover) 
Go Now - (Bessie Banks cover) 
Can't Nobody Love You - (Solomon Burke cover) 
Lose Your Money (But Don't Lose Your Mind)  - (The Moody Blues song) 
Stop  - (The Moody Blues song) 
Boulevard de la Madeleine  - (The Moody Blues song) 
Bye Bye Bird  - (Sonny Boy Williamson cover) 

Band on the Run:
Band on the Run  - (Wings song) 
 Jet  - (Wings song) 
Bluebird  - (Wings song)
Mrs. Vandebilt  - (Wings song) 
Let Me Roll It  - (Wings song) 
Mamunia  - (Wings song) 
No Words  - (Wings song) 
Picasso's Last Words (Drink to Me)  - (Wings song) 
Nineteen Hundred and Eighty-Five  - (Wings song) 
Say You Don't Mind 
Deliver Your Children  - (Wings song) 
Time to Hide  - (Wings song) 
Mull of Kintyre  - (Wings song) 
I Wish You Could Love
Encore:
The Note You Never Wrote   - (Wings song) 
Spirits of Ancient Egypt  - (Wings song)
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