HE MAY be celebrating his 70th birthday next year but Tom Jones last night showed little sign of his advancing years. Jones marked the first of a three-night residency at Cardiff International Arena with a blistering set spanning his long career in the music business.As he sashayed and crooned his way onto the stage, there were no signs of any pre-gig nerves Jones had confessed to suffering from as he returned to his home turf. The opening three songs represented a no-nonsense start as they came in quick succession with minimal interaction between Jones and the highly- charged crowd.
But from then on it was as if the flood gates had opened.
His first words to the crowd as he walked on stage were “Thank you” and “Diolch” which brought a huge cheer from his faithful followers inside the International Arena.
“It’s great to be back home once again,” Jones said. “Is everything all right so far? Good –just checking.”
Backed by a new 10-piece band, Jones instead brought a little piece of Vegas glamour to the sell-out audience in Cardiff last night.
While he may now be more silver fox than Peter Pan, after allowing his natural colour to dominate, Jones has lost none of his star charisma or his trademark voice.
Indeed his showmanship last night could have taught a thing or two to numerous acts half his age who have also performed at the CIA.
Against a glitzy backdrop and dressed in an equally glitzy jacket, the Voice from Pontypridd gave a masterclass in singing as he worked his way through his considerable repertoire.
The old and inevitable classics, for which we have come to know and love Jones by – Delilah, Green Green Grass of Home, It’s Not Unusual – were greeted loud roars of approval and equally deafening applause.
As were his contemporary offerings, from his own take on Sex Bomb, to the wonderful Mama Told Me Not to Come and his latest songs from the 2008 album 24 Hours.
Jones told the audience he was really proud of this album, which he co-wrote most of – a first for him – as he admitted.
“I finally learned how to spell,” he joked.
Jones also revealed the opening song of his set called Sugar Daddy was written for him by Bono and the Edge from U2 but with a rye smile on his face he told the crowd he didn’t know why they called it Sugar Daddy.
But the standout tracks of the night, which showed off Jones’ vocal capabilities to best effect, were the good old-fashioned soul numbers, including perennial favourite Hard to Handle, and his Bond soundtrack Thunderball.
This was an impressive 20-plus song performance which Jones obviously enjoyed, especially as its as close to his Ponty roots that he’s going to get without making a permanent move home.
There were no signs of any of the nerves Jones had confessed to suffering from as he returned to his home turf last night. This was a truly impressive performance