World Party, Crescent Ballroom, 12/2/12
World Party @ Crescent Ballroom|12/2/12
It was almost with a sigh of relief that Karl Wallinger and World Party began their Crescent Ballroom concert with "Waiting Such A Long Time," as it has been some years since Wallinger has taken World Party on a large-scale tour.
But it wasn't that Wallinger didn't want to take the band out, rather he was slowed by a brain aneurysm that left him unable to walk and talk, let alone play an instrument. Even after a lengthy rehab session got him in working order again, and Wallinger immediately tested that idea with a successful gig, the bandleader instead focused on creating the expansive, career-spanning 5-CD box set, Arkeology.
Glenn BurnSilver World Party @ Crescent Ballroom
With all that out of the way Wallinger at last can focus on what he does best: play music. World Party has only released five albums in its 25-year career, so there isn't a dearth of material, and the concert, with the exception of a few lesser-known songs was pretty much a greatest hits package. This, however, was exactly what the generally older crowd--fans that were 20- and 30-somethings when World Party was in its 1990s prime--wanted.
"Is It Like Today" and "Put the Message in the Box" were warmly greeted like old friends as Wallinger put his band of mostly young Nashvillians through the paces on these classic numbers. And though he complained of being in poor voice, he sounded clear and confident as he too obviously was enjoying the moment.
After a grooving "When the Rainbow Comes" Wallinger moved on the keyboards for a series of songs, beginning with the hit "She's The One," a song penned for his mum, and turned into a chart-topping smash by Robbie Williams. While Wallinger bounced along with the catchy song, he was also instructing his band. This young crew on bass, drums and keys was a bit tight early on, but gradually loosened up, especially when things got rocking. (Speaking of young, take the beard off the bassist and he might have been 14--which wouldn't diminish his talent, adequate to the task.)
Also sharing the stage from was a fiddle/mandolin player/vocalist who served as the perfect counterpoint to Wallinger, setting up Wallinger's inventive guitar leads or lending a well-timed "oooh" or "aaaah."