IT’S hard enough singing when you’re 27,” shared Sir Tom Jones with the 2,000 or so members of the audience gathered at the Plenary Hall, Kuala Lumpur Convention Centre, for his concert last Friday.
“So what about 37 then, or 47, or 57 ... or 67, then?,” he blurted fully aware of how preposterous the suggestion sounded.
In fine form: He may be pushing 70, but Welsh singer Sir Tom Jones was still in great shape as he ploughed through his hits at last Friday’s concert at the Plenary Hall, Kuala Lumpur Convention Centre. But that’s exactly what 69-year old Jones did on the night of his one-night only stint here in Malaysia in support of his critically-acclaimed new album 24 Hours. In fact, he sang his posterior off, really.
The Welsh legend was in fine fettle and gave credence to the old (pardon the pun) adage, old is gold.
Decked in a spiffy outfit consisting of a shimmering navy blue jacket and grey plaid pants, Jones looked very much the stylish senior. And as if to put a stamp on his renowned character, he kicked off the time-travelling party with the sensual and sultry Sugar Daddy before slipping back a tad with Give A Little.
The first and perhaps biggest highlight was when Jones turned the clock way back to 1965 and delivered a gob-smacking rendition of Bond theme Thunderball. Coupled with the rich orchestration (he had a 10-piece band backing him ... complete with horn section and back-up singers) and the swirly lights, all the thrills and spills of a spy-caper were fleshed out in full.
While he ploughed through many of his 1960s hits with gusto – yes, It’s Not Unusual, What’s New Pussycat?, Delilah and Green Green Grass Of Home – the cabaret element of those tunes somehow sank under the class and style of Thunderball. There’s only one big voice that can hit that last note on the Bond classic.
Of course, the audience enjoyed it all in equal amounts, so it seemed, but there was a distinction between Thunderball and the rest, clearly.
Having a catalogue that’s as varied as it is consistently musical meant Jones could dip his hands in any decade and pull out a nugget, but the great thing was, that wasn’t all he did.
He even had the courage to pluck a few from his most recent album 24 Hours, like the sassy Style And Rhythm and the brooding title track. Obviously, even touching 70, Jones is still game to push the envelope to try and remain current, unlike most of his contemporaries who are more than content to remain mere golden oldies.
Other musical highlights included stellar renditions of Randy Newan’s Mama Told Me Not To Come (which Jones covered with The Stereophonics on his covers/duets album Reload) and You Can Leave Your Hat On, and Otis Redding’s Hard To Handle, all of which were delivered in his inimitable style.
Admittedly, there were the expected lulls. While it was commendable that he tried some lesser known and newer material, the audience at the Plenary Hall was there to reel back the years.
And that’s why some of the more mature women in the audience swayed almost uncontrollably (and one lady even dancing in the aisle) when he pulled out all the stops on She’s A Lady. If you’ve seen kids get excited, try a bunch of experienced ladies. All in the name of good fun, though.
Yes, agreed, it takes some guts to do the grandad dance moves, but you have to remember, Jones is a grandad.
His band was just amazing, too. A young bunch – so he described in an interview some days earlier – but seemingly musically exposed well beyond their years.
A candid moment included the time one of the two keyboardists took up the second guitarist role and all three axemen (two guitars and a bass) huddled close as Jones delivered a trio of classic country covers.
Then there was the time you almost wanted to shout (like Christopher Walken) “more cowbell” as the two female singers joined on some hand percussion, which prominently featured a (what else?) cowbell.
Including the two songs for his encore, Jones performed 25 songs for the night, and played almost all his most famous hits. Sure, Spanish Harlem and Funny Familiar Forgotten Feelings were left out, but there could be little complaint with the his setlist.
Jones revealed that he’d like to live and sing forever, so for better or worse, given his sparkling form that night, he might continue doing this longer than we expect. Was it the best show in recent memory? Maybe not. Were we entertained? Definitely.