Jones Wows Casino Crowd

166735_1.47NIAGARA FALLS, Ont. - Singer Tom Jones wore a huge grin Saturday night through most of his show in the Fallsview Casino's Avalon Ballroom, and let's face it, the man has plenty to smile about. Just last month, he was christened a knight by the queen of England. He's a proud husband, father and grandpa who has been married to the same woman since 1957. And, at age 65, he's still such a hot performer that women of all ages go wild in their seats and throw their undergarments at him. Let the record show that the first undergarment hit the stage at 9:03 p.m., 18 minutes into Jones' show, during a spirited, somewhat suggestive version of one of his hits from the '60s, "Help Yourself." Jones, who has a big and enthusiastic following among women in this region, gave them plenty to scream about in a soulful, high-energy show that lasted about 90 minutes.

I have to admit, I was a skeptical when one particular Jones fan talked me into taking on this review, but after seeing the man in action, I'm not the least bit ashamed to call myself a fan.

A powerfully built dude in an all-black suit, this man chews up the stage like very few performers I've ever seen. Yes, he plays to the ladies, but there's no denying his talent. His voice hasn't lost anything from the days in the mid-1960s, when his first hit song, "It's Not Unusual," stormed all the way up to No. 1 on the pop music charts.

Jones still does the hits - like "Unusual," "Delilah," "What's New Pussycat" and others - but he spiced up Saturday night's show with doses of the blues, soul music, country and some New Orleans jazz.

More than anything else, he's a power-packed soul shouter, a white Welshman who clearly draws his inspiration from black legends like Otis Redding, Jackie Wilson and Wilson Pickett. And there's no doubt that Jones emulates the late Elvis Presley, as well.

But none of these greats had anything over Jones when it comes to driving women crazy. He may be in a class by himself.

The song highlights were many. He brought the house down with a soulful version of "Never Going to Fall In Love Again," and with seductive romps on two Randy Newman songs, "You Can Leave Your Hat On" and "Mama Told Me Not to Come."

The ladies loved every bump and gyration. I lost count of undergarment tossings at nine.

Women kept running up to the stage, ignoring security guards, and giving Jones roses, or just touching his hands. He was happy to cooperate.

"From my bedroom window in the hotel, you can see Niagara Falls," he said.

"Wooooo," yelled the ladies. One woman sitting behind me jumped up and started shaking her body like it was on fire. The Avalon Ballroom proved to be a cozy, comfortable place to see a show, with excellent acoustics. Even with ticket prices in the $100 range, Jones sold two shows out easily.

He'll perform again tonight. By DAN HERBECK, News Reviewer, 9 April 2006