World Party Opera House, Toronto ON - September 3, 2006

The Sunday of a long weekend with virtually no advance press, the odds seemed stacked against World Party, so it was gratifying to see a respectable turnout. The presence of plenty of musicians was no surprise given the timeless melodicism of the band’s material. The commercial and critical success of World Party’s early ’90s heyday has not been sustained but new album Dumbing Up proves that main man Karl Wallinger’s skills have not deserted him. When he and his five-piece band kicked off with "Message In A Box,” followed by "Is It Like Today?” it seemed as if we’d be in for a night of blasts from the past. From there, though, the bulk of the set was culled from the new disc. Tracks like "What Does It Mean Now?” "Best Place I’ve Ever Been” and "Here Comes The Future” took on an extra vitality live. Wallinger is an artistic chameleon, seamlessly changing musical colours. Some of his personas flirt with plagiarism — a fiery Dylan-esque folk rock tune, a John Lennon at the piano style ballad, "She’s The One,” or a soulful Prince-like falsetto, "Ever Been To Love Street?” Wallinger’s skills as an impressionist and his sincerity means it is impossible to take offence. He has a charming, melodic voice, is a fluent guitarist and writes lovely, catchy songs. What’s not to like? As if to reward the crowd for their patience with the more unfamiliar material, the band closed the set with a rousing version of "Way Down Now,” which had fans singing and dancing along. More treats came during the encores, with a sweet acoustic guitar and fiddle version of "Sunshine,” a spirited, shortened take on "The Little Man Within” and a triumphant rip through "Ship Of Fools.” The omission of early WP classics like "All Come True” and "Private Revolution” was a little surprising but no one felt short-changed. This was one party well worth your vote.