Hard Rock Review

Tom JonesWhen it comes to sex appeal in the AARP demographic, Tom Jones is no Mick Jagger. He's better. Of course, such judgments are subjective, but based on the sheer number of women's undergarments tossed on stage at Friday's sold-out show at Hard Rock Live, the 66-year-old sex symbol is way hotter than that kid in the Rolling Stones. There was much chatter about lingerie among the early arrivers in the audience and it didn't take long for the first volley of unmentionables. "It's great to be here at the Hard Rock in Orlando," Jones was telling the crowd as the first lace projectile landed at his feet. He didn't miss a beat, going on about how the show would include "some new songs, some old songs and some in between." The guy's a pro. Jones indulged in a newer song early in his 90-minute performance, delivering a big, Vegas-worthy rendition of Hoobastank's "The Reason." It was well received, but the evening's high notes were all drenched in nostalgia. "Help Yourself," "Delilah," "She's a Lady" and "What's New Pussycat?" were among the songs that inspired audience members to rise from the comfort of their reserved seats, wave their arms and, of course, throw more underpants. This would all be a joke, except that Jones still does a remarkable job of being Tom Jones after all these years.

Dressed in a dark suit, his shirt open at the collar to expose a chain with a big silver cross, he looked tan and fit. His big voice was prone to over-the-top bellowing, but what it lacked in subtle shading was balanced by strength and enthusiasm. His 11-member backing band, which included a 4-piece horn section and trio of backing vocalists, was solid, but not flashy. Saxophonist Kenny Anderson was utilized effectively, especially on the ballads. Most impressive, however, was the way that Jones carried himself. He's utterly comfortable in his own skin, quick with a knowing wink or nod that makes his sexy gyrations look cool despite his age. He's an old-school showman, kind of like Cher without the costume changes. Like Cher, he's capable of mixing memories and pop-culture relevance, as he did by bookending his recent club hit "Sex Bomb" with the signature "It's Not Unusual." It would be unusual for most guys, but somehow Tom Jones still looks at home with all that lingerie at his feet.

Jim Abbott - Orlando Sentinel