(Editor’s Note: Welsh singing sensation Tom Jones is touring Chile. His first performance was last Saturday in Viña del Mar, and he hit Talca and Santiago earlier this week. The 69-year-old legend, who has sold more than 100 million records worldwide and is best known for his hits “It’s Not Unusual,” “What’s New Pussycat” and “Delilah,” will wrap up the Chilean leg of his tour this weekend. When he was in the Chilean capital, Santiago Times writer Laura Burgoine had the chance to meet and greet the star. She recounts her experience here.) Santiago is still swooning after Tom Jones’ epic concert, and here at the Santiago Times, we have personally been swept off our feet by the legend himself. An intoxicating four-day TJ binge has seen this group of young journalism interns form a cult-like following of the music god in our very own Jonestown.
It began with two press-passes and five interns fighting for the chance to catch a glimpse of TJ onstage but ended with backstage cocktails, hanging with the band and all of us sipping wine, poolside, with Mr. Jones himself.
To backtrack a few nights: a quiet dinner at home with my co-workers was interrupted by an SMS-text invitation to join Tom Jones’ band for drinks. Instantly deserting our chicken and throwing on our best clothes, we raced to the bar in hopes of spotting the star. As we sat drinking with the band at the Backstage Bar in Santiago’s entertainment district, Jones sat inside with his personal assistant, quietly nursing a cognac.
We were stunned when the down-to-earth singer and his PA joined us on the patio. Oozing star quality, the bronzed, now grey-haired, music sensation sat with the little people, reflecting on his pre-fame days as a laborer while puffing on a Cuban cigar and sipping French champagne.
With style and grace, he chatted candidly, asked us about ourselves, told racy jokes and even belted out a few songs, although not his own. When the bar closed, he invited us all back to his five-star hotel for poolside beverages before personally hailing down three cabs off the street.
Santiago allowed Jones to mingle casually without being mobbed by paparazzi, but he was still a magnet for adoring fans. This is not a man who blends into the background. People of all ages, from all walks of life, approached him just to gush in his presence while our young waitress was rendered completely helpless by one of his infamous smoldering looks.
At 69, he’s still got it.
Jones and his “family” of crew and band members have been on the road since August last year and will keep rocking until March. Our own brief participation in the Santiago leg of his 24 Hours World Tour left us exhausted shells of our former selves. How Jones, his band and crew, maintain this wearying, fast-paced, exhilarating schedule is truly astonishing.
Jones said he performs on average 200 concerts a year and despite his wife’s constantly asking him to slow down, he insists he never will: singing and performing are his true loves.
His tour started in the UK and hit Europe and the USA before South America. It goes next to New Zealand, Australia and Asia.
In Santiago, Jones may have been a long way from the “Green, Green Grass of Home,” but he rocked Santiago’s Movistar Arena like the true entertainer he is. He thanked God for the gift he was blessed with, before wowing audiences with the vocal strength of a great tenor and the vigor of a Rockette. Crowds erupted as Jones performed classic hits: “Delilah,” “You Can Leave Your Hat On,” “It’s Not Unusual,” “What’s New Pussycat” and “Sex Bomb.”
Jones said the hit that continues to wow audiences is “I’ll Never Fall in Love Again.” But on Wednesday night, it was Jones’ “She’s a Lady” that got everyone to their feet. Crowds erupted with deafening applause, dancing and screaming; it was impossible not to be swept up by the music, the performance and the atmosphere. In true form, Jones, in a leather blazer and silk shirt, drove the audience wild with his signature thrusting gestures and enigmatic stage presence. The ten musicians onstage all shone around the star in what was truly a dazzling performance.
Jones did everything: introduced his songs, talked with the audience, and at the end introduced and saluted each of the musicians. The audience went wild when he thanked them in Spanish and provocatively towelled himself off with a Chilean flag thrown onstage. He was unfazed because when you’re Tom Jones and screaming women throw things on stage, it’s not unusual.
By Laura Burgoine