I discovered World Party when I had a “High Fidelity-moment” hearing their first record played at Austin’s Waterloo Records. While my initial attraction was a lead vocalist sounding like Mick Jagger, the more I listened, the more I liked their sound which turned out to be closer to the Beatles than the Stones. I bought that record and every other one of theirs since. To my dismay, seeing them live spent a long time on my bucket list. Some 28 years later, I got my chance.
Without a steady line-up, the World Party name has been a vehicle for the music of Karl Wallinger. This latest band incarnation was no more than he, a fiddle player and an electric guitarist. Whilst I would have loved some backing bass and drums to hear the lush full World Party sound, this stripped down version presented a fresh simpler look at Wallinger’s great pop songs. It was a folksy vibe, somewhat akin to Wallinger’s participation as a member of The Waterboys in their formative years.
I recently saw the late Ian Dury’s band, The Blockheads, in London. They were missing original guitarist Johnny Turnbull who I tonight learned tours with World Party. It was a great treat to see this sharp-dressed English gentlemen layer in some mighty slick guitar fills. If I heard him correctly, contradicting the internet, Turnbull said that he’d be turning 80 later this year—quite remarkable indeed.
After a strong start just three songs into the set, Wallinger surprisingly took a quick leave from the stage putting down his left-handed acoustic guitar to administer to a congestive chest issue. In his absence, the band, notable David Duffy, passed the time “fiddling” around. Oddly, while Wallinger may have looked a tad weary, I heard no flaws in his deep smooth vocals both before and after this brief respite. The only thing missing was a song cut from the set list as a result of the distraction.
When Wallinger returned, he went straight to the keyboards. I then had another “moment” hearing his passionate rendering of “She’s the One.” How I overlooked the beautiful song from his last record (a fairly big hit for UK popster Robbie Williams) I’ll never know. Always a sucker for a great tender love song, it now sits on my High Fidelity-inspired list of “Top Ten Greatest Love Songs.”
I was her, she was me
We were one, we were free
If there’s somebody calling me on
She’s the one
Sadly, there has been no new World Party material in 14 years with Wallinger recovering from some serious health issues during most of this time. That made the evening a glorious walk back through the band’s five-LP catalog. All hits were played save for “Private Revolution,” the title-track of the debut record which was the one that first caught my ear during my 1986 record store experience.
The 80-minute set was a fairly quick return visit for World Party to Third & Lindsley. They were there for September 2012 appearance at Lightning 100’s Nashville Sunday Night live radio show. I hope that they return again soon since they now reside on my “won’t miss” list. Hopefully, there will be a better turn out in the audience next time—this time the place was only half full.
- Waiting Such a Long Time
- Put the Message in the Box
- Is It Like Today?
- When the Rainbow Comes
- She’s the One
- Love Street
- What Is Love All About?
- God On My Side
- Call Me Up
- Sweet Soul Dream
- Vanity Fair
- Who Are You?
- Ship of Fools
- Is It Too Late?
- Mystery Girl
- Way Down Now
Karl Wallinger –acoustic guitar, keyboards and lead vocals
David Duffy –fiddle and acoustic guitar
John Turnbull –electric guitar