“I always thought things would change when I wrote it in 1986,” World Party guru Karl Wallinger wryly noted after playing his doomsday hit, “Ship of Fools,” near the end of his first of two sets Tuesday at the Dakota Jazz Club. “But what’s changed?”
Funny how the Beatles-tinted music sounded timeless and yet the foreboding, save-the-world lyricism in Wallinger’s most classic tunes sounded a wee bit dated during the 100-minute Dakota performance. They don’t make hippie-spirited rock stars like this bespectacled Englishman anymore. Wallinger himself doesn’t make many trips across the pond anymore, either. Tuesday’s performances were his first local World Party gigs in seven years. All these elements helped turn the show into a downright sentimental affair.
Performing with guitarist John Turnbull and violinist/mandolinist Dave Duffy -- both excellent harmony singers, too -- Wallinger showed no lingering signs of the aneurysm that sidelined him for much of the ‘00s. His voice held up strong throughout the set, shining bright early on in “Put the Message in the Box” and hitting all the high (read: falsetto) notes when he sat at the piano for “She’s the One” and “Love Street.” He also played “Ship of Fools” on the ivories, resulting in a “Piano Man”-like singalong with the crowd handling the last chorus refrain all on its own.
More than half the set list was made up of tunes from the album that came after “Fools,” 1990’s “Goodbye Jumbo” – a wise choice, as the tunes all held up well, especially “Sweet Soul Dreams” and the closer “Way Down Now.” Yep, more songs about the world coming to an end, but at least World Party is still going strong.
Here’s the full set list from the earlier Dakota show:
Waiting Such a Long Time / Is It Like Today? / Put the Message in the Box / What Does It Mean Now? / Everybody’s Falling in Love / When the Rainbow Comes / She’s the One / Love Street / God on My Side / What Is Love All About? / Call Me Up / Sunshine / Sweet Soul Dreams / Vanity Fair / Ship of Fools / Who Are You? / Is It Too Late? / Way Down Now