THE Voice from the Valleys left fans screaming for more in Manchester last night, after winning the crowd over with a mix of rock, pop, country and blues. A crowd almost 10,000-strong flocked to the MEN arena to hear 66-year-old Sir Tom Jones belt out timeless classics including She's A Lady, Delilah, Sex Bomb and Leave Your Hat On. From the moment Glaswegian indie rockers Cosmic Rough Riders stepped on stage to warm up the crowd, the atmosphere was electric. And when Sir Tom walked out in a rich purple suit to kick-start his 90-minute performance, arms were swaying, bunny ears flashing and hands held high in an attempt to catch the attention of the Pontypridd-born singing sensation. One women, wearing a pink fluffy cowboy hat, could barely contain herself when Tom flicked open his jacket to reveal a glittering black shirt. And other screaming fans expressed their love for the singer in time-honoured fashion by throwing pairs of knickers on stage. The deafening screams from adoring women proved that Sir Tom, who was sporting a neatly trimmed beard, still has the X-factor - despite being just four years away from 70. He had strong support from his backing singers and brass-based instrumental section.
Fans travelled from across the country to hear his soulful sound. Emma McEwen, aged 27, from Ashton-Under-Lyne, said: "Tom Jones needs to stick to his old stuff. That's what he's known for. "He's a natural sex god with what he knows, and as soon as he sings a classic song the atmosphere's fantastic." Emma's mum Shirley Smith agreed. "Everybody wants Tom's old stuff back," she said. Although a large proportion of the crowd were middle-aged women, there were also plenty of men bopping away to classics like What's New Pussycat, Mama Told Me Not To Come and It's Not Unusual. One, who had travelled all the way from Brighton to see "Tiger Tom" in action, was 27-year-old Richard Willard. Richard said: "I missed Tom's performance in Brighton, so I was over the moon when I got tickets for the MEN arena. I've seen Tom in concert before, and I've got to say tonight was one of his best."
As Sir Tom sweated his way through the concert, teasing the crowd with flashes of flesh, their enthusiasm showed no signs of faltering - especially when Tom revealed how great it was to be back in Manchester. Right through to the concert's closing song, Kiss, the fans sang along passionately. Manchester was the third stop of the Tom Jones International 2006 UK tour. Birmingham, Newcastle, Sheffield and Cardiff are next on his agenda.
For the past 40 years, Tom has toured the world, winning adoring fans along the way. He has sung with Pavarotti, Wyclef Jean and Jools Holland, demonstrating his vocal flexibility and ability to move with the musical times. In recent years, reports have been published expressing concerns over the rocking pensioner's health. But with more than 50 albums under his belt - not to mention the Silver Clef Lifetime Achievement Award - there really is life in the old dog yet By Tracy Scott http://www.thisislancashire.co.uk