Over-the-top Tom Jones is as good as it gets

Tom JonesNeil Diamond, 65, has a bigger catalog of hits and more songwriting acumen. Wayne Newton, 64, has larger-than-life charisma and more flash and flair in his show. But Jones, 65, has the shtick, the voice, the arrangements and the self-deprecating humor. His 85-minute show Thursday night at Mystic Lake Casino was an absolute hoot. You could laugh with him and at him -- he didn't care as long as you were having a good time. Thanks to his humor, his hits, his hipster/camp cachet, his heartfelt interpretations of some unexpected tunes and the audience's interaction with this hammy icon, it was a wonderfully memorable night. Jones -- actually Sir Tom Jones now, after being knighted last month by Queen Elizabeth -- was a bit of a parody of himself, with his bug-eyed mugging, ageless bump-and-grinding, mincing gestures and timeless look of tight curly brown hair, diamond pinkie ring and open shirt, revealing a giant gold cross and hairy chest. He still has that stentorian baritone, which he unleashed most effectively on country-blues-soul tunes, including Charlie Rich's "Who Will the Next Fool Be," Howlin' Wolf's "Three Hundred Pounds of Joy" ("200" in Jones' version), the oldie "What Am I Living For" and his 1969 hit "I'll Never Fall in Love Again."

The highlight was "You Can Leave Your Hat On," during which Girls Night Out at Mystic Lake suddenly became Older Girls Gone Wild, as a nonstop parade of women (mostly in their 30s to 70s) danced to the lip of the stage and hurled bras and panties at Sir Tom. He mugged and winked and then sang "Sex Bomb." He gets it, indeed.


Thanks to Marie for spotting this story!Jon Bream, Star Tribune