It was nice to see Karl Wallinger in the flesh. It has always been a rare occurrence, but had become more so since 2001, the year he suffered a brain aneurysm. He's back after a bit of a struggle. He had to relearn to play his music. His sight, not what it once was, prevents him from seeing the end of his guitar, as well as not being able to see piano keys unless he turns his head a certain way. Last night's World Party performance at City Winery had many musical moments, but I will reiterate, it was nice just to see Karl Wallinger. I had worked myself up into a fanboy frenzy twice before in the last 8 years, only to be notified both times of Karl's cancellation due to his illness. Last night was big. Karl was sharp, hilarious, in very fine voice and looking very healthy and happy.
This brief acoustic tour features John Turnbull on guitar and David Duffy on violin and mandolin, with both adding harmony vocals. While that seems a bit more stripped down than what you are used to hearing on World Party's studio recordings, what took place last was nothing less than astonishing. Turnbull and Duffy were not props to fill in some space. The interaction between this trio of instruments and voices was gargantuan, with all three musicians playing sounds so beautifully and intricately arranged, what you heard belied what you saw.
The performance was a little over an hour and included a bit of everything from Wallinger's World Party career. The hits--Put The Message In The Box, Way Down Now, a very moving She's The One, and the triumphant Ship Of Fools---as well as some deeper faves like Love Street, Sweet Soul Dream, and Call Me Up. The band also performed "Everybody's Falling In Love," a new song found on the recent boxed set of unreleased material called "Arkeology," and a song that would not be out of place on a Neil Finn record.
It seems unlikely that World Party will come back around with a full band for a bigger show in a bigger venue. History says, a brief acoustic jaunt in 2017 might be the next time we get a chance to hear Karl Wallinger live. I hope I am wrong. This was a special night and I want more.