One of Wings’ most transitional periods turned out to yield the stadium rockers’ best-selling work, so it’s no wonder why the band’s occasional singer and multi-instrumentalist Denny Laine filled up the classy City Winery on a mere Monday when he promised to play 1973’s “Band On The Run” in its entirety. Besides being the only consistent group member other than leader Paul McCartney and his wife Linda (with the others bailing just before those sessions), the veteran musician also logged time in the R&B incarnation of The Moody Blues.
As everyone rose to their feet for an encore of The Moodys’ take on bluesman Sonny Boy Williamson’s “Bye Bye Bird” and a sturdier reprise of the “Band On The Run” single, Denny Laine promised he’d be come back to town with something totally different.
Though selections from both of those prominent British bands popped up on the program, Laine and his four-piece band (who shared a comical bond) got right to the six-times platinum project that stayed on the charts for two years and also returned to the Top 30 in 2010 when it was remastered and reissued). Lead track “Band On The Run” got everyone singing right along, despite Laine in particular sounding a bit vocally weathered as he and the others took a few minutes to get settled.
Additional tinkering came during “Jet” and “Bluebird,” but outside of the slightly turbulent takeoff (perhaps tied to being road weary on this final night of the tour), it was an otherwise smooth ride as Wings figuratively flew over America once again. While Laine remains a admirable guitarist (most apparent on the super-charged “Let Me Roll It” and the unexpectedly extended “No Words”), his decision to split the lead vocals with the other guys was wise considering they all possessed elements of McCartney’s many musical shades (from “Mrs. Vandebilt” to “Mamunia” and everything in between).
After the complete album, Laine took assertive ownership of the first track he ever recorded with The Moody Blues (James Brown’s “I’ll Go Crazy”), his own “Say You Don’t Mind” (also cut by The Zombies’ Colin Blunstone), plus his first band’s iconic “Go Now.” Additional Wings memories included the harmonica-laced “Time To Hide,” the epic “Live And Let Die” and the mystical “Spirits Of Ancient Egypt” (penned by McCartney specifically for his partner to sing).
As everyone rose to their feet for an encore of The Moodys’ take on bluesman Sonny Boy Williamson’s “Bye Bye Bird” and a sturdier reprise of the “Band On The Run” single, Laine promised he’d be come back to town with something totally different. Given his direct involvement with two significant acts from the ‘60s and ‘70s, there’s a lot to choose from and an audience obviously hungry to relive both the hits and history.
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Upcoming concert highlights at City Winery include Robby Krieger (May 9); Trout Steak Revival (May 10); Samantha Fish (May 11); The Blasters (May 12); Robbie Fulks (May 13); Story Sessions Brunch (May 14); Amy Helm & the Handsome Strangers (May 14); Anat Cohen & Trio Brasileiro (May 15); Whitehorse (May 16); Wanda Jackson (May 17); Taylor Hicks (May 18); Donna the Buffalo (May 19); The CrossRhodes (May 21); Christopher Cross (May 22); Kevin Ross (May 24); The Westies & Heather Horton (May 25); BoDeans (May 26); Vivian Green (May 29); Emin & Friends (May 30) and Norman Connors & the Starship Orchestra (May 31). For additional details, visit CityWinery.com/Chicago.