Legendary singer Tom Jones took Bangkok by storm recently. It was difficult to believe that the swinging singer on stage was nearly 70! That his voice had not lost its power or texture in spite of five long decades in the business, that he could still get a packed auditorium of people, singing and dancing on their feet. One is talking about the concert of Sir Tom Jones, at the Impact Arena Auditorium in Bangkok, which shook the city.
The power and magic of his rhythms, and his wide repertoire of songs --- rock, pop, soul, country and film tracks had the audience — young and old – mesmerised.
Here is a Welsh boy who started singing in small clubs, went on to bigger halls, and ended up singing at some of the top stages of the world. This is the singer who has jammed with the likes of Elvis Presley, Chuck Berry, Van Morrison, the Rolling Stones, Prince and Robbie Williams. The famous singer has travelled and performed through the length and breadth of the world, from East and West Europe to the Middle East, Israel, Asia, S. Africa, and still continues to do so.
As Jones said recently, “I can't see myself retiring. I hope I'll always be able to go out and do shows for as long as I live!” Jones' recent Asian tour covered Malaysia, Thailand, Singapore and the Philippines. One heard he developed laryngitis in Singapore, soon after his Bangkok-concert, and had to cut short his tour. But in Bangkok, the legendary singer was in his element. He opened the concert with ‘Sugar Daddy' and followed it with ‘Style and Rhythm.'The James Bond number from ‘Thunderball' was dramatic, but of course it was ‘Delilah' that brought the crowd on its feet.
‘Mama told me' resurrected his early days with his first Welsh band, and he sang it intimately with his three guitarists, followed by the soulful ‘Hard to Handle.” He got naughty again with ‘Help Yourself.'
To balance the volatility, Jones then sang reflective numbers from his new album ‘24 Hours,' where the lyrics, written by him for the first time, were totally personal and revealed the ‘real me.' As he said on stage, he wanted in particular “to thank God for giving me this voice.”
When one remembers that Jones' initiation into music was through the choir in his church, one can understand his unmitigated faith. The singer shut his eyes as he sang the lead-song of ‘24 Hours' with deep feeling – “As I take my final breath, I don't fear any more.” Then came ‘Never fall in love' which the singer said he had first recorded when he was 27 years old!
There followed a medley of country songs, which the crooner said were in memory of his club days, and he re-created the club atmospherics with dark lighting and his guitarists for company. But numbers such as ‘Green Green Grass' and ‘Save The Last Dance' had the audience singing and dancing with him. By the time he came to ‘Pussy Cat' and ‘She's a Lady,' the women in the audience were on the aisles. And then came the song which won an Oscar for Best Movie Soundtrack from ‘Full Monty' -- -‘Leave your Hat On.' ‘Stoned in Love' had loud rhythmic guitar notes, but Jones' voice was louder. And then he belted out ‘Sex Bomb' and waved goodbye. But the Thai audience had not had enough of him, so he came back for ‘Kiss' and ended the evening with the popular ‘Take me back to the party.'
For the large number of Tom Jones fans who came to the concert, the singer took them back to a never-ending ‘party' of unforgettable numbers. If one can exude such energy at the age of 70, there's plenty his audience can learn from this inspirational singer. Yes, ‘The Voice' (as Tom Jones is called in his native Wales ) reigned supreme that evening.
LEKHA J. SHANKAR http://beta.thehindu.com/arts/music/article364855.ece