The North Charleston Performing Arts Center was transformed into a Las Vegas ballroom Friday night as legendary vocalist Tom Jones worked his unique brand of musical magic on a crowd of about 1,400. It had been more than two years since the Welsh-born singer last stood on a Lowcountry stage, but if the squeals of delight from the women in the crowd were any indication, Jones' popularity has not diminished a bit.
Wearing a black suit and sporting a goatee, Jones appeared to be in exceptional physical shape for a man who will turn 68 in June. Not surprising, Jones' voice was as strong as ever.
Opening with "Raise Your Hand," Jones vamped his way from one side of the stage to the other, flashing his famous million-dollar smile and flirting with the first few rows. After a high-energy rendition of "Help Yourself," a song prominently featured in a recent diet soda TV ad, Jones surprised many by belting out a decent version of George Jones' "He Stopped Loving Her Today" before diving back into the more familiar hit "Delilah."
Covers of Howlin' Wolf's "200 Pounds of Joy," Jerry Lee Lewis' "End of the Road" and Van Morrison's "Cry for Home" were crowd-pleasers, as were songs made famous by Jones, such as "She's a Lady," "Green, Green Grass of Home" and "What's New Pussycat?"
Jones' band, which featured an incredible four-piece horn section, helped the singer keep the energy level high throughout the performance.
The show wasn't half over before women's undergarments began flying toward the stage. No one really knows how the tradition of throwing underwear at the singer was started, but apparently a Tom Jones show without a stage littered with panties is like a Jimmy Buffett concert with no nautical references. At one point between songs, Jones even held up a particularly large pair of knickers, asking who had tossed them on the stage.
After ending his set with the one-two punch of "Sex Bomb" and "It's Not Unusual," Jones, who by then had shed his jacket to show off a sweat-drenched sequined shirt and a large gold chain, returned for an encore that included "I Like the Way You Move" and his famous cover of Prince's "Kiss."
Jones, who by one BBC report is worth more than $300 million, certainly doesn't need to tour to keep food on the table; yet he still keeps an impressive touring schedule each year. The guy obviously loves the spotlight, and on Friday night the Lowcountry showed Jones a little love in return. By Devin Grant Special to The Post and Courier Saturday, March 8, 2008