M.E.N Arena review

Tom JonesTHE atmosphere at a Tom Jones’ gig has to be seen to be believed. His audience may be wide in age range, but the one thing they have in common is they worship the man. Some like the swiveling hips and others love the cheesiness of his lavish shows. The one thing that I realised though is that for all the flack this man gets, he has the best voice in the business and can sing absolutely anything, as he proved on Friday night during his brilliant show. As the tanned one steps onto the stage oozing confidence the feel of the gig is Las Vegas; big, brash, full of atmosphere and the audience are just as wild. The backing singers are superb at complimenting this big voice and the band is as slick as you would expect. “Love is like candy on a shelf…..” sings Mr Jones and the fans, recognising the opening line from 'Help Yourself' begin to dance, singing every line. More hits from the 1960's follow such as 'Delilah', which has them eating out of his hands. The audience are mainly here for the old stuff but for me and a few others, some of these hits like 'What’s New Pussycat' fail to test this man’s vocal range. But he knows he has to sing them in order to showcase more powerful tunes. Such as the soul classic 'Treat Her Right', which has the "hey hey hey hey" chorus hitting the rafters.

Standards like 'Fly Me To The Moon' and 'That Old Black Magic' show you that the great man can slow it down and still keep you enamored. Whereas, 'Mamma Told Me Not To Come' appeals to the younger audience members.

Bill Withers' blues classic 'Grandma’s Hands' is absolutely stunning and again displays the man’s versatility. Is there anything he cannot sing? His recent hit with Chicane, 'Stoned In Love' confirms the fact that he is the father of reinvention. If anyone else his age sang this, they would be laughed at. But Tom has earned our respect so artistically can turn his hand at anything. He throws some shapes for 'Leave Your Hat On' and 'Sex Bomb' and two pairs of knickers land at my feet, I presume they are for Mr Jones! Moving like a man half his age, fully aware of what they want and how amusing it all is, he delivers with relish. Self-deprecation is the key here and Jones’ uses it to propel his voice and dance like his life depends on it. Next is a track which could be written by the female contingent, a cover of The Bodyrockers’ 'I Like The Way You Move'. It should be embarrassing but isn’t, as like much of this gig it's tongue in cheek and bloody brilliant.

The Welsh warbler finishes the show with the show stopping 'Kiss' as the crowd file out of the arena, knowing that this is a Friday night to savour. Jonesy certainly burned down the house and then some!

Glenn Meads Manchester Evening News http://www.manchestereveningnews.co.uk/