Why have I waited so long to get down to The Griffin and see a show? Especially since, over the last year, they’ve really been flexing their booking muscles, bringing in national artists and some of San Diego’s finest talent? The thousand excuses are irrelevant. I finally made it down for KPRI’s Private Listener party featuring World Party. Sure didn’t hurt that sitting in the parking lot was the Green Truck–the traveling, all organic, solar powered eatery! Not only did I get a broccoli grilled goat cheese pre-show meal, The Griffin allows you to bring the healthy goodness into the club. Nice touch.
Nestled into an unassuming side street a few blocks off the 5, The Griffin has a great feel to it. You’ve got a couple of pool tables lined up when you walk in, a stretch of bar, and then three booths and a few sprinkled seats facing the kitty-corner bandstand. The intimate vibe, the dark moody lighting, all partnered well with Karl Wallinger and his World Party’s seven song set.
Wallinger opened the night with “Waiting Such A Long Time” from his new 5 CD compilation Arkeology. The material was so fresh he was using a music stand to help with remembering the lyrics. His current version of his 3 piece band consists of a bass, violin, and keyboardist, who provided just enough of an accompaniment to add texture to World Party’s sound. Right off the bat it was the violin that established its presence as the solo provider and mood enhancer. The sweeping violin runs lifted the opening number and continued strong throughout the set, especially when Wallinger and band dropped “Put The Message In The Box.” The rousing second number, a World Party favorite, gave Wallinger a chance to open up and stretch his voice. Sounding crisp and energized, World Party alternated a new number with a classic for the rest of the 5 songs. The back and forth of the new and old worked, keeping the pace strong and the set solid. “Ship Of Fools” playful sing along was the set’s crescendo, causing the most smiles on stage and off. Though, “Is It Like Today” also received a fine run through and an over-the-top response from the appreciative crowd.
It was great to see Wallinger back and in fine musical shape. His performance certainly gave no indication that he’d undergone a long rehabilitation from a brain aneurysm that sidelined him in 2001. Hopefully, Wallinger and his World Party will continue to strengthen their live show and swing back to San Diego for another night of praiseworthy sounds.