World Party

Four years between albums and four years without touring can mean the death of an artist as fickle fans find the next fair to visit. Although the return of pop wizard Karl Wallinger to Los Angeles wasn't a sellout, the greeting for this showman's unpredictable antics was consistently ardent. His nearly two-hour set, although marred by technical difficulties, did not suffer musically thanks to his apt handling. The Welsh tunesmith led his solid touring band through songs from his recent "Egyptology" (the Enclave) album as well as numbers from his previous three albums. A known perfectionist, he jested over the snags --- he placed an ejected guitar cord to his head like a gun, mocked playing a failed guitar behind his back, and even walked on the keys of his grand piano.

With:
Band: Karl Wallinger, Dave Catlin-Birch, Chris Sharrock, Amanda Kramer, John Turnbell. Reviewed Aug. 17, 1997.

Flaws aside, World Party’s infectious blend of Beatles-esque pop melodies and lilting harmonies rings like seemingly familiar hits. From his recent album, “Vanity Fair,” the bluesy “Hercules” (about Kurt Cobain) and the acoustic psychedelia of “Beautiful Dream” fit snugly with the well-known “Is It Like Today?” and the hugely successful “Ship of Fools,” the final song of the night. Staying true to ’60s form, Wallinger covered the campy “BBC” from the film “Austin Powers.”

While the thought of what’s to become of his U.S. recording contract must certainly be on his mind as the EMI upheaval means the predicted death of his label, the Enclave, the heavy representation of Virgin Records (which falls under Thorn-EMI) in the house should be a relief to Wallinger.

In complete contrast, young upstart Andrew Dorff opened the show with his pretentious act of I’ve-seen-it-all-from-a-gutter emotive alt-rock off his fittingly titled debut “Hint of Mess” (Work). With a gruff and nasally mumble of a voice, Dorff led his talented four-piece band through an eight-song wannabe-Burroughs set, beginning with the inflated “Supercool” through the vaunted “Starstruck.”

World Party

El Rey Theatre; 800 capacity; $25

Production: Presented by Andrew Hewitt and Bill Silva

Cast: Band: Karl Wallinger, Dave Catlin-Birch, Chris Sharrock, Amanda Kramer, John Turnbell. Reviewed Aug. 17, 1997.

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