Show of confidence with Pythonesque humour

World Party | Shepherd's Bush Empire, London
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The Independent Culture

TONIGHT'S OPENING skit was great fun, World Party mainstay Karl Wallinger letting his Pythonesque sense of humour prevail.

TONIGHT'S OPENING skit was great fun, World Party mainstay Karl Wallinger letting his Pythonesque sense of humour prevail.

First, we got spoof footage from Seaview TV, newsreader John Spanky informing us that the band's tour bus had been involved in a gig-threatening accident.

Next, we segued to the crash-scene for a report from Blogdon Blinovich (the cheering crowd now recognised Wallinger). Relaying that members of the band were now starting to arrive, Spanky eventually took us live to Shepherds Bush Empire. It was an excellent way of focusing our attention.

When they kicked off with two songs from the new album, Dumbing Up, it seemed like a show of confidence. The first of these, "What Does It Mean Now?", is one of the best songs Wallinger has written since his revered 1990 set, Goodbye Jumbo. Further in, though, "Another 1,000 Years" was less convincing. Despite its sweet execution, it only served to demonstrate that Wallinger is still fleecing The Beatles with Noel Gallagher-like front.

There were still some fine tunes, of course, the most whistled of which must surely be "She's The One", written by Karl, and made famous by Robbie. When Wallinger sat down at the piano to finger the song's opening chords, we got another glimpse of his irreverent humour: "The only difference between me and Robbie Williams," he quipped, "is that I know who she is." This sparked a huge cheer.

What Wallinger referred to as the "Hello Dumbo" medley of "Message In The Box", "Thank You World" and "Is It Too Late?" reminded us that despite their musical borrowings, World Party have always had something to say.

Some ladies knickers landed at an astonished, if chuffed, Wallinger's feet before "Message", and he was unable to resist comment. "I see. Tom Jones approach, is it? I've from Rhyl, you know, not Cardiff".

It's difficult to imagine Wallinger's song-writing scaling the heights of Jumbo again, but his enduring way with a tune and his child-like joy in performing it are saving graces.

There's obviously more to him than music, anyway; maybe he should turn his hand to writing scripts for Radio 4's I'm Sorry I Haven't A Clue.

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