Tom Jones had been nervous before this first night of his British tour, confided venue staff. The set included all the old favourites from It's Not Unusual to Kiss but was interspersed with numbers being tested for the first time such as the ballad The Reason. Yet when an excited female fan called out "I love you" - after The Voice had told us how great it was to be back in Brighton - any edginess dissipated and he laughed: "That's a good start". There were middle-aged women in pink hats, dutiful sons with mums (me being one as it was my mother's birthday) and a smattering of dragged along husbands. I expected more youngsters. After all the Jones boy has stayed more credible than most active Sixties artistes while hitching his wagon to rap and indie and duetting with the Stereophonics. Those present were treated to a powerhouse performance which showed off the facility his extraordinary set of pipes give him to master any popular music style - soul, ballads, disco, rock n roll, gospel, blues and standards. He had a slick, 11-piece band versatile enough to cope with the switches from Fly Me To The Moon to I Like The Way You Move. The legend swung like Sinatra, grinded like Eighties Price and ripped it up like Fifties Jerry Lee Lewis, though given he's 66, at a pace to conserve energy. Water stops "to wet the whistle" provided breathers.He oozed sex appeal to his captivated female crowd. One pink hat shouted to him "I'll be waiting, baby" after he told a random girly voice "I'll be over in a minute".
Fans swayed to Delilah, squealed at a pelvic-thrusting Keep Your Hat On and danced as the show reached its climax. And items of women's clothing were thrown on stage. I'd rather he had pared it down to a guitar-bass-drums backing band belting out the raw rhythm and blues he sang before It's Not Unusual turned him into a pop idol. But for a first night, it wasn't half bad.
Brighton Centre By Mike Donovan, The Argus