World Party

World Party front man Karl Wallinger has spent his career writing songs about surprises lurking just beyond the horizon. Even he probably couldn't have envisioned the bombshells that've impacted his life over the past few years -- from an aneurysm that nearly incapacitated him to the recovery that preceded his return to live performance.

With:
Band: Karl Wallinger, David Duffy, John Turnbull.

World Party front man Karl Wallinger has spent most of his career writing songs about surprises — positive and negative — lurking just beyond the horizon. Even he probably couldn’t have envisioned the bombshells that’ve impacted his life over the past few years — from an aneurysm that nearly incapacitated him permanently to the remarkable recovery that preceded his recent return to live performance.

At this low-key Gotham gig, World Party’s first in several years, Wallinger led a scaled-down version of the band through a congenial perf featuring retooled versions of past hits and a smattering of tunes from the just-released Seaview Recordings disc “Dumbing Up.” The singer-guitarist was in excellent voice — his supple falsetto hasn’t wizened a bit — and even better spirits throughout the 75-minute set.

Wallinger is a notorious studio rat who seldom uses one vocal track when 10 are available, so it was intriguing to hear him present his music in such stripped-down fashion. Alternating between acoustic guitar and piano, and backed by a pair of musicians who swapped electric six-string, violin and mandolin, he moved easily between froth and gravity, lingering lovingly in the places where the two met.

That’s the territory the trio explored on “Ship of Fools” and “Is It Too Late?” (the latter reconfigured with an intriguingly insistent Bo Diddley beat), to name two of the songs that offered more spice than sugar. Others tilted the balance the opposite way, notably “When the Rainbow Comes” and the Crosby, Stills & Nash-styled newie “What Does It Mean Now?”

The close-knit harmonies that imbued the mellower songs augmented the yearning qualities of Wallinger’s writing, most effectively on “Is it Like Today?” (which he described as an attempt “to cram the whole of Western philosophy into four verses”). That he wasn’t kidding might have made the good ship World Party a bit too ballast-heavy to be seaworthy, but when the melodic winds kicked in, Wallinger and company sailed off with a buoyancy that was a pleasure to behold.

World Party

Joe's Pub; 220 seats; $25

Production: Presented inhouse. Reviewed May 30, 2006.

Cast: Band: Karl Wallinger, David Duffy, John Turnbull.

More Music

  • Lindsey Buckingham's Solo Tour Begins Four

    Lindsey Buckingham Announces Tour Dates, Which Begin Four Days After Fleetwood Mac’s Tour

    World Party front man Karl Wallinger has spent most of his career writing songs about surprises — positive and negative — lurking just beyond the horizon. Even he probably couldn’t have envisioned the bombshells that’ve impacted his life over the past few years — from an aneurysm that nearly incapacitated him permanently to the remarkable […]

  • R. Kelly

    R. Kelly to Perform at MSG’s Hulu Theater in New York Next Month

    World Party front man Karl Wallinger has spent most of his career writing songs about surprises — positive and negative — lurking just beyond the horizon. Even he probably couldn’t have envisioned the bombshells that’ve impacted his life over the past few years — from an aneurysm that nearly incapacitated him permanently to the remarkable […]

  • Randy Newman

    Concert Review: Randy Newman Offers Bowl Full of Mirth and Melancholy

    World Party front man Karl Wallinger has spent most of his career writing songs about surprises — positive and negative — lurking just beyond the horizon. Even he probably couldn’t have envisioned the bombshells that’ve impacted his life over the past few years — from an aneurysm that nearly incapacitated him permanently to the remarkable […]

  • Conan O'Brien Korea

    'Conan' Cuts Music Performances; Booker Roey Hershkovitz to Exit (EXCLUSIVE)

    World Party front man Karl Wallinger has spent most of his career writing songs about surprises — positive and negative — lurking just beyond the horizon. Even he probably couldn’t have envisioned the bombshells that’ve impacted his life over the past few years — from an aneurysm that nearly incapacitated him permanently to the remarkable […]

  • Nicki Minaj Adds X-Rated Verse About

    Watch Nicki Minaj Add an X-Rated Verse About Stephen Colbert to 'Barbie Dreams'

    World Party front man Karl Wallinger has spent most of his career writing songs about surprises — positive and negative — lurking just beyond the horizon. Even he probably couldn’t have envisioned the bombshells that’ve impacted his life over the past few years — from an aneurysm that nearly incapacitated him permanently to the remarkable […]

  • Live Nation Names Amy Marks EVP,

    Live Nation Names Amy Marks EVP, Head of Integrated Marketing

    World Party front man Karl Wallinger has spent most of his career writing songs about surprises — positive and negative — lurking just beyond the horizon. Even he probably couldn’t have envisioned the bombshells that’ve impacted his life over the past few years — from an aneurysm that nearly incapacitated him permanently to the remarkable […]

  • Beyonce and Jay-ZBeyonce and Jay-Z in

    Beyonce Dedicates Detroit Concert to Aretha Franklin

    World Party front man Karl Wallinger has spent most of his career writing songs about surprises — positive and negative — lurking just beyond the horizon. Even he probably couldn’t have envisioned the bombshells that’ve impacted his life over the past few years — from an aneurysm that nearly incapacitated him permanently to the remarkable […]

More From Our Brands

Access exclusive content