Denny Laine – Live at Red Clay Theater


There was a time when I was a sucker for anything Paul McCartney recorded.  As time moved on, I realized that not all of it was as good as I had once thought, but the remnants remain firmly as “guilty pleasures.”  Wings’ albums are a soundtrack to a period of my life in a sense.  A cool thing about albums was that they were of a size where inserting posters was possible, something McCartney did more frequently than most.  And… among other posters of album covers and rock stars, they got rotated on my wall space, such as this, from Wings’ London Town album, a guilty pleasure in its entirety.

Denny Laine live

So, that’s Paul, Linda, and who that adorned my wall?  Well, Denny Laine, a stalwart companion through most of McCartney’s 70’s output.  McCartney intended for his post-Beatles band to be a contributing band, rather than a supporting band for his lead.  As one would suppose, he selected Laine due to his credits in both songwriting and singing, most notably with The Moody Blues, who also opened for his prior band during a tour.  So as I scour the various Atlanta concert venues for potential holiday shows and beyond, there is Mr. Laine, playing three days later at Red Clay Theater in Duluth, an intimate venue with 260 capacity.  For… $15.  No brainer.

Denny Laine live

The Cryers performed as the opening act, then served as Laine’s backing band. They’re from New Jersey and feature another Wings’ alumnus, Steve Holley, on drums.  Drums are not usually my thing, but I’m always intrigued when I see one reading music as he plays.  They played a couple covers, including George Harrison’s “Horse to the Water”  and a few originals.  They’re better musicians than songwriters, it seems, but would afterwards deliver Laine’s music very capably.   Laine arrived looking a bit stiff, like he’d just woken, but once plugged in he turned to the microphone and belted out “I’ll Go Crazy,” a James Brown cover that opened the first Moody Blues album.  Laine was a founding member of the Moodies, who would later go through a major personnel change that led the band to a different musical direction and greater success.  Laine is well suited to the throwback rockers, as he would include others from the era including “Go Now,” a #1 hit in England, “Lose Your Money (but Don’t Lose Your Mind), “Say You Love Me” (later covered by the Zombies), “Boulevard de La Madeleine” (which was released just after he left the band), as well as a thankfully straightforward “I Wish You Could Love” which was a solo song from the 1980’s.  The Cryers added a good punch to each of these songs.

Denny Laine live

Laine seems to understand his audience, who, like me, came from a reverence of things Beatles, McCartney, and/or Wings material.  Helpfully, he doesn’t disappoint in conversing with the audience.  Each song gets its introduction, pointing to his successes while name dropping as appropriate.  The humor shared with the audience may be a variety of canned chatter, but it doesn’t come across that way.  Additionally, the jibing with drummer Holley let on that if you’re going to choose a band mate to share years with, Laine is probably a lot of fun to have around.   An off-topic trail of the Moodies led to a minute long attempt at “Nights in White Satin,” which.. wasn’t bad.  Notably, Holley quickly filled in perfectly with the drum piece.  The McCartney era songs were mixed, not in the quality of the songs, but in that Laine’s vocal range is better suited to those that he originally sang.  “Time to Hide,” the second song of the night, was a quick reminder that this is a guy who has belted it out in stadiums and arenas.  Where McCartney had sung the lead, well, age takes its toll, but McCartney’s not hitting those notes anymore either.

Enter Chris McKay, with whom Laine seemed visibly relieved to share the mic during the high notes.  McKay was new to me and probably everyone in the audience, but a little research shows he’s a musician, of course, and a reluctant but accomplished concert photographer.  In any case, he added a visible relish to “Live and Let Die” and “Band on the Run”  not to mention an active stage presence.  Those, as it turned out, would be the closers, as there was nothing to offer as an encore except a promise to meet people in the lobby afterwards.  I was hoping for “Richard Cory,” which was a highlight of the “Wings Over America” 1976 tour.

Denny Laine live

Otherwise, kudo’s to Eddie Owens Presents Red Clay Theater, which helpfully has been shortened to an otherwise mysterious EOP logo.  The facility is an old church owned by the City, but the venue has been upgraded since my last visit for lighting, and the sound is crystal clear.  That should prove to their benefit as Smith’s Olde Bar and The Masquerade shortly close their doors, significantly impacting the area’s available venues.

Denny Laine live


I’ll Go Crazy (James Brown)
Time to Hide
No Words
Say You Don’t Mind
Deliver Your Children
Mull of Kintyre
Listen to What the Man Said
Again and Again and Again
Lose Your Money But Don’t Lose Your Mind
Boulevard de la Madeleine
Nights in White Satin (spontaneous abbreviation)
Go Now
Spirits of Ancient Egypt
Wish You Could Love
Live and Let Die
Band on the Run


  1. Damn. I forgot about Richard Cory. "...Went home and put a bullet through his head." That phrase went through my brain tunnels for many a year.

    No sarcasm. Thank you for bringing it back up.

  2. This place was amazing! Great food, it's smaller than others I guess but it is still a fair sized fun. The decor at this venue was amazing as every note of music reverberates off the beautiful walls. Everything about this event space NYC is nothing less than 5 stars.