Tom Jones' latest album is a return to the simple ways and musical values that he grew up with. Mark Phillips profiles the pop superstar who these days is looking both back and forward on his life.
You don't have to spend much time with Tom Jones around the green, green grass of his hometown of Pontypridd, in Wales, before two predictable things happen.
The first is, you ask him the dumb but irresistible question: "Does the old town look the same?"
"It looks the same from up here, I must say," he replied.
The other predictable event is that, before long . . . in this case while reminiscing in the chapel where he went to Sunday school . . . he'll break into song.
"Yea, yea, I wasn't expecting to sing today but ... anyway, 'The Old Rugged Cross':
On a hill, far away, Stood an old rugged cross, The emblem of suffering and shame, But I love that old cross, Where the dearest and best Of a world of lost sinners were slain, I will cling to the old rugged cross, Where my trophies at last I lay down. I will cling to the old rugged cross And exchange it someday, for a crown.
Tom Jones - Sir Tom Jones - is now 70, and he's feeling a little nostalgic.
He's come a long way from Pontypridd, the town in the Welsh coal mining valleys where he was born. But in a lot of ways, including musically, he's coming home.
Watch Web Exclusive Interview With Tom Jones
His new album has shocked his fans and surprised the critics.
What good am I if I’m like all the rest, If I just turn away, when I see how you’re dressed, If I shut myself off so I can’t hear you cry, What good am I?
The new Tom Jones CD is almost a repudiation of the glitzy pop career he's enjoyed for five decades. It's a return to the simple ways and musical values that he grew up with.
"My father was a coal miner, and both his brothers were coal miners," Jones said.
And Tom, too, seemed destined for a working life down the mines. It was not only good steady work; it was just about the only work.
Tom visited the house where he was born, in 1940, as Tommy Woodward. And he would have followed the predicted path if not for an accident of health.
"Oh yeah, I would have been a coal miner, I would think, if I hadn't had tuberculosis when I was 12," Jones said. "But my dream was always to be a professional singer. You know, I always had that, since I was a child."
For two years he was confined to a room in a house around the corner, where the family had moved. Recovering from TB turned into the best bad thing that ever happened to him.
The doctors told him, "'Whatever you do, you cannot go down the coal mine,' because of my lungs," Jones said.
Tom's lungs - and what they allowed him to do with a song - became a ticket to a whole other life.
After trying to get a break playing the pubs and working men's clubs of Wales, he cut a demo tape of a song that was supposed to be for another singer. But when the record company executives heard it, they knew it had to be his.
It became an international hit.
Not just a star, but a style was born . . . the Tom Jones style.
Other musical tastes could come and go, but Tom Jones belting it out would always be there.
His TV show - "This is Tom Jones" - was a living room favorite in the late Sixties and early Seventies on both sides of the Atlantic.
He was more than just a singer, of course; he was a sex symbol . . . famously the target on stage of women throwing their underpants at him.
Now, older, and finally greyer, he regrets ... nothing.
"I've always felt myself as being a serious singer," Jones said, "even if . . . "
"You were doing 'Sex Bomb'?" Philips added.
"Well, yeah, or 'What's New Pussycat?' which was a novelty song. But I've always sang it in the best way that i know how. I put myself in to it.
"But then you can be shooting yourself in the foot because then if you get a hit with a song that if you don't want to be known as a 'sex' symbol, then don't record 'Sex Bomb.' So at the time I wasn't really aware of it, but it has had an effect."
"But it's not like you ran away and hid from it," said Phillips.
"No, no, no, no, no, no. I've done what I've done and I've recorded what I've recorded and I have no regrets in that area because I've done It. So I've only myself to blame!"
"Praise and Blame" is the title of his new CD. And when Tom performs numbers from it, his audience - old and new - responds, if not quite in the way they used to.
He's dialed back a bit. But then, he's had to.
"Well I mean, I cannot be at 70 years old - it would be silly to try - and be 35 or 40, maybe even 50. You can't. There is no way and if you do then you're going to look silly. And people are going to take you less seriously than when you're a young person.
"It's to do with age, there's no getting away from it," he said. "Maybe I'm trying to."
"You're not going soft on us?" Phillips asked.
"Ohhh no, no, no, no. It's not soft. There's nothing really soft on this album. You know, it's a solid, it's a strong. These songs are strong songs."
Going up the stairs at the house in Pontypridd, Jones remarked how steep they are. "Good God, these are steep. I can't remember them being like that."
So much has changed for Tom Jones from that front room in that small rented house where he was born. And here's a way to measure it: There was no indoor toilet back then.
"Ahh no, just out there," he pointed.
A lot different from a life of world tours and Las Vegas lounges and a big house in L.A.
"Can I ask you another indelicate question? Do you have any idea how many bathrooms you have in your house now?" Phillips asked.
"Urrr, the house in L.A., has about . . . Hmm, let me see . . . are there . . . 6, 7?"
Well, I guess that's a measure of something. For Tom Jones, it's a way to measure the passage of time.
"Some people say I can't stop. If I stopped working I'd die," Philips said. "Are you afraid to stop?"
"Um, yeah. I mean, I dread the day. Time is my enemy. Time will catch up with me vocally. And I dread that. I dread to think about life without singing.
"It's a wonderful feeling to get on stage and pour all this stuff out and for people to go, 'Yeah!'"
In 1969, when Elvis Presley made his return to live performing at Las Vegas's International Hotel (later to be renamed the Las Vegas Hilton) his goal was to create a musical experience that contained all of the great forms of American music: folk, pop, rock, country, blues, R&B, gospel. His Vegas period is often thought of as the worst point in his career and is lampooned by critics, music fans, and impersonators alike. Elvis himself even became fed up with performing there after a while. Yet, at least during the first few years, he succeeded in his goal musically.
The entire career of Welsh singer Tom Jones invites comparisons to Presley's Vegas period. In fact, the two men were good friends who often attended one another's shows (during one particularly interesting show, Jones introduced Elvis to the audience and asked him to perform a song. He declined, deciding to entertain the audience with a 20-minute karate demonstration instead. It was 1974 and he acted weird on stage quite often that year) and Elvis was even inspired to record "Green, Green Grass of Home" after hearing Jones' take on the song. The similarities don't end there though: both share a unique and powerful voice and an excellent taste in material to record. However, Jones did not have the groundbreaking string of classic music that Elvis did from 1954-1958, so critics let him get away with far less. Thus, as Jones' reputation as an extraordinary entertainer grew with every pair of panties thrown onto a Las Vegas stage, his estimation in the minds of music fans and critics lessened.
"Lost Highway to release Tom Jones", I read here a few months back. I was aware of only a few of Jones' pop hits, his phenomenal vocal chords, and his reputation for being an entertainer above anything else. I was unaware that he had recorded a string of country albums back in the '70s and '80s, so my first thought was that the label was attempting to cash in on the stripped-down successes of other aging artists in recent years: Johnny Cash, Robert Plant, Neil Diamond, etc. Then I heard the first single.
I'll tell you about that in a few minutes, but first I will share with you another similar experience. A couple of years ago I watched a film entitled Reign Over Me. The star of the film was Adam Sandler and I had always enjoyed him as an entertainer and a comedian. I wasn't expecting a masterpiece, just a few laughs at the end of a long day. But as I watched Sandler's character sitting in the lobby of a psychiatrist's office weeping as he told of his family who had been killed in the September 11th attacks, I began to respect him as an actor. By the time the credits rolled, I was amazed at what I felt, and still feel, to be an Oscar-worthy performance. Fast forward to a few weeks ago. I sat listening to Tom Jones' take on the blues standard "Burning Hell," half expecting to be amused by the entire thing. Instead my image of Tom Jones changed from a set of vocal chords ready to please a crowd of old ladies to a serious recording artist. (I ask that long-time fans of Jones not be too hard on me. After all, I'm sure that there were some people unaware of the musical genius that is Neil Diamond prior to 12 Songs.)
"What good am I if I'm like all the rest?" the 70-year-old singer nearly whispers to open the album. Is the question rhetorical? Is he talking to himself? The performance, a cover of a somewhat obscure Dylan tune where Jones is backed up by only a sparse rhythm section, is almost prayer-like in its gentle quietness and with its heartfelt vocals. Yet no answer is given to this or Jones' other questions throughout the song, leaving the listener to ponder the answers and making it a quite haunting piece of music.
Things speed up a lot on "Lord Help", a blues-rock spiritual where Jones shouts a request to the Lord to help the poor and needy, the sinners, the fatherless children, and the war-torn people of this land. The band is especially brilliant here with blistering electric guitar and organ. This track is almost Hendrix-like in a way.
"Did Trouble Me" is the third track and it sounds as if it was recorded inside of a church confessional. "When I let things stand that should not be," he pleadingly sings, "My Lord did trouble me/When I held my head too high, too proud, my Lord did trouble me/When I raised my voice a little too loud, my Lord did trouble me." The main attraction here is not the excellent voice, but rather the emotion and heart behind it. It is peculiar to say this of a track by a white Welsh singer known for playing Las Vegas, especially of a track that prominently features the banjo, but this is soul music at its best.
"Strange Things" is another traditional spiritual, this time given a rockabilly arrangement. The band really is smoking here and Jones manages to sound half his age.
"Burning Hell" is the first track I heard from the album and it is still one of the best. This version of the John Lee Hooker classic could almost be described as hard rock or Zepplinesque. Jones defiantly bellows "Maybe there ain't no Heaven, no burning Hell" as if taunting Satan himself before quietly speaking the line "When I die where will I go?" in a way that would make ZZ Top green with envy.
"If I Give My Soul" is perhaps my favorite track here. Written by Billy Joe Shaver, with this truly heartbreaking rendition Jones gives the definitive reading of it and, although I am admittedly in no position to make a statement like this, possibly the best recording of his career. He sings the tune as if he is telling his own life story. Maybe he is. When he speaks of "playing music, traveling with the Devil's band", the voice in my head immediately screamed "Sin City" and when he talks about making his peace with Jesus as a way to gain back the love of his wife and child, I felt sorry for him. The emotion here is all real and it is really the only time on the album where Jones sounds anywhere near 70.
"Don't Knock" is a spiritual done in the style of Jerry Lee Lewis or Little Richard. Jones' passionate singing is equaled by the musicianship of the band and the call-and-response vocals with the gospel choir are excellent although it is a relatively minor track here.
"Nobody's Fault but Mine" is a deep south blues tune, delivered here with an atmosphere somewhat similar to the work of Tom Waits. The deeply spiritual tune finds Jones admitting that "If I died and my soul be lost, it's nobody's fault but mine" before a Creedence-like guitar solo takes over.
"Didn't It Rain" is a traditional upbeat gospel number and this version perhaps is the best display of Jones' vocals as well as the instrumental prowess of the piano player.
"Ain't No Grave" is given an arrangement very similar to the version by Johnny Cash. This is not the definitive version of the song, nor the best performance on the album although there are really no problems with it.
"Run On" is the album's final track and it has been recorded by countless singers including Elvis and Johhny Cash (as "God's Gonna Cut You Down"). So what is amazing is the fact that Jones and producer Ethan Johns managed to give it their own incredible twist, complete with a Jimmy Reed guitar riff.
I hadn't really intended to write a review of this album so soon. It doesn't even come out for another two weeks. I had simply sat down to write down a few initial thoughts and began writing the review anyway. In closing, you should know that not everybody is a fan of this album. In fact, David Sharpe, the VP of the album's distributor Island Records publicly made an ass of himself upon hearing the album for the first time (follow that link if you want to know, in a nutshell, everything that is wrong with the music business). His own label is against him, which must be a strange feeling for a man who has tried for the better part of five decades to please everybody. But as a wise man once said on a classic record, "You can't please everyone, so you got to please yourself". Tom Jones made this album for himself, but I think you will enjoy it as well if you just give it a chance. So what if his voice would lend itself just as well to a Broadway musical as it does to these old gospel numbers? We can't all be Bob Dylan.
Clash Music Online http://www.clashmusic.com/news/tom-jones-for-latitude
Set on England's sunrise coast, Latitude has grown to become one of the summer's most respected events. Based around a natural arena, the festival always has a little something special in store.
Amongst the latest announcements is an appearance by iconic Welsh singer Tom Jones. The Cardiff crooner began life as a hit on Britain's R&B circuit before swapping the grit of Working Men's Clubs for the glamour of Hollywood.
A star at Las Vegas, Tom Jones has now decided to age gracefully. Forthcoming album 'Praise & Blame' is a deeply meditative work, featuring a singer who is coming to terms with his advancing years.
Produced by Ethan Jones, the album contains material initially written by the likes of Bob Dylan and John Lee Hooker. Indebted to blues, gospel and country it is a remarkable achievement by an often overlooked artist.
Tom Jones will unveil his new album during a special performance at Latitude. The singer is set to perform in the woods outside the arena, with the set beginning at midnight on July 15th.
Meanwhile, other new additions include I Blame Coco, Boycott Monday, Spectrals, Steve Mason and more. At Latitude music is intermingled with comedy, literature, art and theatre with plenty more surprises yet to be announced.
Returning for its fifth edition, Latitude is bigger than ever with acts spread across a total of thirteen arenas. Expect more announcements over the coming weeks as organisers firm up the bill.
Latitude takes place between July 15th - 18th.Tom Jones
Posted by Robin Murray
"What good am I, if I'm like all the rest?" emotes Tom Jones on his highly personalised version of Dylan's What Good Am I. No problem there. Few singers with a popular background are going to emerge with an album as remarkable as this during 2010. Recorded live, with no overdubs, and no horn or string trappings, the songs all stem from exemplary sources - culled from memories of Sister Rosetta Tharpe, Marie Knight, Mahalia Jackson, John Lee Hooker, Jesse Mae Hemphill and such like and delivered with due reverence, turning on the power when required but never edging into showbiz. The presence of Ethan Johns, producer of Kings of Leon, Laura Marling etc, not only provides Jones with a dynamic sound but, backed by drummer Jeremy Stacy, bassist Dave Bronze and a sprinkling of knowing guests, donates some of the most aggressive yet agreeable guitar licks likely to bend ears this year. **** Fred Dellar, Mojo, Aug 2010
FOR A VERY SPECIAL PERFORMANCE ON THURSDAY AT MIDNIGHT
IN THE WOODS
We are absolutely delighted to announce that the legendary Tom Jones is set to appear at this year's Latitude Festival with a special performance on Thursday July 15th. The appearance with his band will see Tom performing songs from his forthcoming album 'Praise & Blame' at midnight In The Woods.
This landmark album comes in the singer’s 70th year, a glowing achievement in what has been a ground-breaking, unpredictable roller-coaster of a 45-year career. The songs from ‘Praise & Blame’ (released 26th July on Island Records), are from a repertoire that includes American traditional, gospel and country, seeing Tom going back to his roots and creating a truly evocative musical work, aided and abetted by producer/musician Ethan Johns.
Tom Jones says of ‘Praise & Blame’: “It’s food for thought, it’s real, it’s natural, and in that sense it’s truly me.”
Latitude Festival returns for an incredible 5th Edition on 15-18th July 2010 set in the beautiful countryside of Henham Park Estate on Suffolk’s Sunrise Coast.
Unlike any other festival, Latitude has built its sterling reputation as a brave and pioneering event with a line-up like no other. In the beautiful Suffolk countryside, Latitude provides only the very best of music, theatre, comedy, literature, film, poetry, dance, art, fashion and cabaret for an exceptional three days and nights of heady indulgence and scintillating entertainment. Four arenas are dedicated to an exciting selection of musical talent from emerging bands, international stars and homegrown heroes, whilst the arts onsite command no less than thirteen arenas and areas providing something for everybody, no matter what your preferences. Latitude continues to be the complete summer weekend vacation.
This performance by Tom Jones will quite possibly be blowing the leaves off the trees when he takes to the secluded and magical stage In The Woods at midnight….
Sir Tom Jones is blessed with one of the most powerful voices in pop but, while his grunts and hollers send hen parties wild, I'm afraid they've always left me cold. Once, when I mocked him in a review, his manager sent me a furious letter commanding me to take Tom more seriously but somehow his choice of material — a novelty cover of Sex Bomb? — has made that a tough ask. Now I'm finally ready to praise him. I've heard his new album, Praise & Blame, and it's brilliant — the raw, rugged sound that Tom Jones's heavyweight voice is made for.
It sees Jones united with producer Ethan Johns, whose name should be familiar to fans of his former charges Kings of Leon, Ryan Adams and Ray LaMontagne. Johns provides a live band as well as hooking impressive collaborators such as Stax legend Booker T Jones on keyboards and folk darling Gillian Welch on backing vocals.
Jones's job is to give gravitas to 11 gospel and country covers including Bob Dylan's 1989 slowie What Good Am I?, John Lee Hooker's Burning Hell and Jessie Mae Hemphill's Lord Help the Poor and Needy.
It's a similar trick to the one pulled off by Johnny Cash on his American series of recordings — stripping back the instrumentation, avoiding modern computerised sounds and allowing a too-familiar voice the space to shine again. Praise & Blame even features Ain't No Grave, the portentous Claude Ely track that gave its title to Cash's most recent album. But if that sounds too serious for those who just want to be entertained, rest assured that even when Jones rumbles on about sinners and hellfire, there's still quite a twinkle in the eye.
Didn't it Rain and Strange Things have a swinging boogie-woogie sound, while the savage blues guitar of Burning Hell could almost be The White Stripes. You can hear the latter in advance at myspace.com/tomjones.
This is the Welsh Presbyterian who has talked of singing The Old Rugged Cross with fellow gospel fan Elvis Presley in the latter's Las Vegas hotel suite. That love of ancient music was lost amid the chest-hair cultivation and kitsch balladry.
More recent revivals — such as his 1999 album Reload, which saw him duetting with Robbie Williams, Stereophonics and Cerys Matthews — have involved him allowing younger musicians to give him often unfortunate makeovers, a grandfather in a tight T-shirt. In 2002, there was a catastrophically awkward union with hip-hop producer Wyclef Jean for the flop album Mr Jones. All that these efforts did was reinforce the image of Jones as a gyrating tan willing to give a growl and a wink to anything that might keep him in the charts.
His 2008 album, 24 Hours, was a step in the right direction. It saw Jones involved in the songwriting process for the first time instead of simply lending out his mighty pipes but it still sounded like a man trying a bit too hard for a piece of Winehouse and Duffy's retro soul pie.
Since then, most tellingly, he's stopped dyeing his hair. Turning grey and recording a new album that at last offers a depth and soulfulness worthy of that remarkable voice, it looks like this perpetual playboy might have grown up. Just in time for his 70th birthday next month.
Praise & Blame is released on Universal/Island on July 26.
Tom will be making an exclusive appearance on Later With Jools Holland next week. He will be performing “What Good Am I?” live on the show on Tuesday 25th May at 10pm on BBC2. The show will be repeated on Friday 28th May at 11:45pm and available on BBCiPlayer. Enjoy!
Unfortunately, there has been some mis-information in the press regarding Tom's upcoming show at Norwich FC on June 5.It has been reported that this show will be 'an exclusive 70th Birthday celebration show'. To clarify for our fans and supporters, we can confirm there is no 'Birthday' element involved, as indeed there are no public celebrations of this nature planned.
Fans will be treated to the same exceptional show that has garnered universally fantastic reviews as it has travelled around the world -- so do join us, looking forward to seeing you at the wonderful Norwich FC stadium!
Matrons and maidens alike melt to the magic of the master Tom Jones did not disappoint. The boy from the valleys was in fine fettle as he launched himself into the final set of his world tour in the UAE’s brand new venue, the Abu Dhabi Hall.
An already excited audience, which included a surprisingly large number of young people, settled into the big comfortable seats and did their best to remain there throughout the early numbers, but as soon as they heard the first few bars of Delilah they were on their feet apart from a few, mostly male, stalwarts who remained self-consciously seated.
Even they gave up the unequal struggle in the end in the face of an onslaught of Spandex-clad, oestrogen-fuelled female passion. They just love the Jones Boy, see.
Maybe some of the skirts were a bit too short on fans who won’t see 40 again, the tops a little too low cut for comfort and the freshly highlighted hair a tiny bit too bright, but after all the man himself was up there, belting out the musical backdrop to many of their lives and they were going to enjoy every last minute of what turned out to be a fantastic concert.
The new venue can seat 6,000 people but as soon as Sir Tom announced, “I don’t mind if you want to dance,” they – or should I say we – needed no further encouragement to leap to our feet and launch into long-forgotten finger pointing moves that rolled back the years.
There was a tricky moment when something that looked like a piece of clothing was hurled on to the stage and a posse of security men descended on a couple of women in the front rows.
Two more suspicious looking bundles got the evil eye from the bouncers but turned out to be large Welsh flags which Jones acknowledged with a grin and a wave.
At 70, he’s stopped dyeing his hair, his stage clothes are subdued blues and greys, and the old pelvic thrusts made only a brief and jokey appearance, but the voice was as strong as ever and he even hit the top notes of Thunderball, no mean feat at his age.
He cleverly mixed the old favourites like Green Green Grass of Home with new songs such as Sugar Daddy, written for him by Bono after they bumped into each other in a Dublin nightclub, and the Prince hit Kiss, which appeals to younger fans. Clearly pleased by the rapturous reception, he sang right through to the end without only the briefest break to change his sweat-soaked shirt.
He’s not called The Voice for nothing, but more than that, he’s a brilliant live performer and knows how to work an audience. The organisers could not have wished for a better opening concert for the Abu Dhabi Hall.
It was worth every mile of the long drive back to Dubai for me at any rate. With the summer heat fast approaching, this spacious, air-conditioned venue is going to be a treat.
Philippa Kennedy, The National
In our exclusive interview with Tom Jones early this month, the great Welshman proudly revealed how he holds the record for most performances in Las Vegas. After last night's show at the all-new Abu Dhabi Hall, it's easy to see why. For one night only, the man they call 'The Voice' transformed a piece of the capital into a tiny Vegas outpost, and the 5000-strong audience were treated to the best concert this city has seen in years. Not since Elton John played Emirates Palace back in 2008 has their been such an eclectic, all-inclusive gig in these parts. Not that Flash Entertainment hasn't brought in decent acts in the interim - Beyonce and Aerosmith certainly appealed to the masses - but no one has managed to spark the excitement witnessed last night when the Welsh Elvis broke into 'Delilah'. Welsh flags fluttered aloft as the multi-cultural audience sang along in unison, raising the room of the new hall with a singsong that seemed to humble Jones himself. The song garnered the longest standing ovation of the night; all the stunned singer could manage was a cheeky giggle.
The star put his amazing vocal talents to use across a wide range of genres: big Vegas numbers such as the 007 theme tune 'Thunderball' and 'What's New Pussycat' were followed by light acoustic versions from his country period ('Green, Green Grass of Home'). The audience lapped up his funk-driven recent offerings - 'Sex Bomb' and 'You Can Leave Your Hat On' brought the house down - and the whole hall was on its feet for his first hit, the 1965 classic, 'It's Not Unusual'.
The evening closed after almost two hours with a mini Prince medley that eventually segued into 'Kiss', the singer admitting that he'd usually go offstage briefly before the closing numbers, but on this night felt like pushing on through. The reason came at the very end when he announced that Abu Dhabi was the closing night of his world tour. The audience joined him in congratulating his crew, all of whom came on stage for the last number as Jones drove it home.
Of course, Dhabi and Flash Entertainment will continue to revel in diversity, but Tom Jones proved that the old legends die hard. This was showmanship that only comes through decades of experience, with singalongs the likes of which this crowd would obviously love to see more of. Note to the bods at Flash: if you've got Mick Jagger's number, use it.
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
Due to doctor's orders, it is with deep regret that we have been forced to cancel tonight's performance in Singapore at Resorts World Sentosa and Saturdays show scheduled for Seoul, KOREA at the Olympic Fencing Stadium. Sir Tom has been resting his voice all week in Singapore, with regular checkups with local specialists. Unfortunately, the doctors are nevertheless unable to guarantee that Sir Tom would be able to perform the full show tonight at 100 per cent vocal strength. In addition, they have warned that by performing, Sir Tom could risk serious permanent damage to his vocals.
We are deeply sorry for disappointing and inconveniencing the fans.
We hope to find a time to come back in the near future and reschedule the shows.
Full refunds will be available from the point of purchase - please contact the relevant ticketing outlets for further details.
Sir Tom Jones and his management would like to apologize to all concert goers for the unexpected postponement of Friday night's concert in Singapore. A specialist has diagnosed Sir Tom as suffering from Acute Laryngitis and under doctors advice he will remain in Singapore to recuperate over the next few days.
The Singapore performance has now been rescheduled for Thursday, 1st April 2010, 8pm, at the Compass Ballroom, Resorts World Convention Centre.
Guests will be required to produce their ticket stub from the 26 March concert for entry.
For guests who are unable to make it to the concert or would prefer a refund, full refunds will be given at the SISTIC Box Office located at the Singapore Indoor Stadium, from today onwards, Monday to Saturday from 11am to 8pm; Sunday and Public Holidays from 1pm to 7pm. This includes the SISTIC $3 booking fee, but we apologize that the $1 handling fee would not be refunded.
For more information, please log on to the SISTIC website at www.sistic.com.sg <http://www.sistic.com.sg> ; or call 63485555.
It is with regret that Tom Jones has been forced to postpone shows in Singapore at Resorts World Sentosa on March 26th, and the Araneta Colliseum Manilla on March 28th, due to illness. Both dates are looking to reschedule, hopefully as soon as next week. Sir Tom has been diagnosed by a specialist with Acute Laryngitis and has been ordered complete vocal rest. The artist is deeply sorry for disappointing and inconveniencing his fans.
All ticket holders are informed that they should hold on to their tickets for either re-entry to rescheduled show or full refund which can be made at point of purchase.
Die-hard Tom Jones fan ERROL DE CRUZ is elated that the silver-haired crooner is still as hot as ever THE Tom Jones warm-up party last Friday had begun early, more than three hours before the 8.45pm concert at the ballroom of the Kuala Lumpur Convention Centre. Irish pub Malone’s, just a stone’s throw away at Suria KLCC, was bursting with chatter from die-hard fans of the Welshman. Why, one middle-aged Mat Salleh was even showing off the knickers she had brought along to throw at him! Didn’t she know that Jones was hitting 70, and that there would be no hip swivelling or sexy gyrating that night? The show began with a duet from two young local artistes who performed four songs competently but seemed out of place opening the night for Jones.
One would have expected a veteran act such as the Alleycats, Strollers, Falcons or Heavy Machine to open the night for such a huge star. The audience, however, was generous with its applause and the duo left smiling, knowing they had done a good job and added a powerful gig to their portfolios. The silver-haired Sir Tom, on the other hand, was a totally different deal, a dream come true.
Dressed in a bright blue suit and his signature silver cross, he was full of charm as he breezed through two hours of hits that began with It’s Not Unusual followed by Sex Bomb, Kiss and his latest, 24 Hours. The sound for the first few songs — Sugar Daddy, Give A Little Love and his James Bond hit, Thunderball — was muffled and muddy, but his powerful vocals blasted through the night and kept the almost-packed hall that way for the rest of the night. These were followed by equally mesmerising renditions of Too Hard To Handle, and a touching piece titled Never (from the 24 Hours album).
“This was written for all of you for keeping me going, and for God who gave me this wonderful voice,” said Jones. While the fast Sex Bomb and Kiss got the audience up and moving, it was the slow, tear-jerking love ballads that showcased the golden vocals that have won the hearts of millions the world over. It began with his big hit I’ll Never Fall In Love Again which was followed by three country numbers — He’ll Have To Go, Green Green Grass Of Home and Save The Last Dance For Me — paying tribute to his early pub days in Wales when he would go onstage backed by no more than a small, tight rhythm section. While the first two country hits had Jones accompanied by three guitarists, the last number saw the entire band ganging up on him with an infectious cha-cha rhythm, complete with a blaring brass section. Born Thomas John Woodward on June 7, 1940, in Treforrest, Pontypridd, South Wales, he worked in several jobs before turning to music with a group called The Senators which performed lively music, pop, adult contemporary, country and dance genres. Jones was one of the first Welshmen to make an impact on international music and has been an international sex symbol for more than four decades.
His dramatic stage persona helped put Las Vegas on the map as a pop draw and he lays claim to having one of the broadest and most powerful vocal ranges.
His alternately crooning and booming voice allowed him to be seductive and sensitive at the same time. Jones’ original band’s early demos were virtually ignored by British radio because of his wildly gyrating sexual showmanship, but when It’s Not Unusual (written by his harmonica player Gordon Mills), reached the pirate-styled offshore Radio Caroline, it became an instant hit. Following that success was difficult at first, but by ditching the leather for a tuxedo and learning to croon as well as belt, Jones soon became an international superstar, and his move to country with Charlie “Curly” Putnam’s Green Green Grass Of Home further expanded his audience. Thanks to two wonderful TV shows — This Is Tom Jones and The Tom Jones Show — Jones remained a star from the 60s to the 90s, switching from checked shirts and country music to figure-hugging costumes and dance music. While Jones had several Top 10 hits — It’s Not Unusual, What’s New Pussycat?, I’ll Never Fall In Love Again, Without Love (There Is Nothing) and She’s A Lady, it was a country song — Say You’ll Stay Until Tomorrow — that finally gave him a No.
1 in 1971. There were also many laurels over the years and these included a Grammy award in 1965, the Order of the British Empire in 1999, a Knight Bachelor in 2006 and eventually a star on the Hollywood Walk of Fame. Sticking to centre stage during the concert, with a band led by drummer and musical director Gary Watts, Jones crooned his love ballads and effortlessly belted out golden oldies such as Delilah and Leave Your Hat On, every song showcasing his grand vocals. Pulling a show like that when you’re a silver-haired daddy takes a ton of steel and that’s what Sir Tom Jones is all about.
IT’S hard enough singing when you’re 27,” shared Sir Tom Jones with the 2,000 or so members of the audience gathered at the Plenary Hall, Kuala Lumpur Convention Centre, for his concert last Friday.
“So what about 37 then, or 47, or 57 ... or 67, then?,” he blurted fully aware of how preposterous the suggestion sounded.
In fine form: He may be pushing 70, but Welsh singer Sir Tom Jones was still in great shape as he ploughed through his hits at last Friday’s concert at the Plenary Hall, Kuala Lumpur Convention Centre. But that’s exactly what 69-year old Jones did on the night of his one-night only stint here in Malaysia in support of his critically-acclaimed new album 24 Hours. In fact, he sang his posterior off, really.
The Welsh legend was in fine fettle and gave credence to the old (pardon the pun) adage, old is gold.
Decked in a spiffy outfit consisting of a shimmering navy blue jacket and grey plaid pants, Jones looked very much the stylish senior. And as if to put a stamp on his renowned character, he kicked off the time-travelling party with the sensual and sultry Sugar Daddy before slipping back a tad with Give A Little.
The first and perhaps biggest highlight was when Jones turned the clock way back to 1965 and delivered a gob-smacking rendition of Bond theme Thunderball. Coupled with the rich orchestration (he had a 10-piece band backing him ... complete with horn section and back-up singers) and the swirly lights, all the thrills and spills of a spy-caper were fleshed out in full.
While he ploughed through many of his 1960s hits with gusto – yes, It’s Not Unusual, What’s New Pussycat?, Delilah and Green Green Grass Of Home – the cabaret element of those tunes somehow sank under the class and style of Thunderball. There’s only one big voice that can hit that last note on the Bond classic.
Of course, the audience enjoyed it all in equal amounts, so it seemed, but there was a distinction between Thunderball and the rest, clearly.
Having a catalogue that’s as varied as it is consistently musical meant Jones could dip his hands in any decade and pull out a nugget, but the great thing was, that wasn’t all he did.
He even had the courage to pluck a few from his most recent album 24 Hours, like the sassy Style And Rhythm and the brooding title track. Obviously, even touching 70, Jones is still game to push the envelope to try and remain current, unlike most of his contemporaries who are more than content to remain mere golden oldies.
Other musical highlights included stellar renditions of Randy Newan’s Mama Told Me Not To Come (which Jones covered with The Stereophonics on his covers/duets album Reload) and You Can Leave Your Hat On, and Otis Redding’s Hard To Handle, all of which were delivered in his inimitable style.
Admittedly, there were the expected lulls. While it was commendable that he tried some lesser known and newer material, the audience at the Plenary Hall was there to reel back the years.
And that’s why some of the more mature women in the audience swayed almost uncontrollably (and one lady even dancing in the aisle) when he pulled out all the stops on She’s A Lady. If you’ve seen kids get excited, try a bunch of experienced ladies. All in the name of good fun, though.
Yes, agreed, it takes some guts to do the grandad dance moves, but you have to remember, Jones is a grandad.
His band was just amazing, too. A young bunch – so he described in an interview some days earlier – but seemingly musically exposed well beyond their years.
A candid moment included the time one of the two keyboardists took up the second guitarist role and all three axemen (two guitars and a bass) huddled close as Jones delivered a trio of classic country covers.
Then there was the time you almost wanted to shout (like Christopher Walken) “more cowbell” as the two female singers joined on some hand percussion, which prominently featured a (what else?) cowbell.
Including the two songs for his encore, Jones performed 25 songs for the night, and played almost all his most famous hits. Sure, Spanish Harlem and Funny Familiar Forgotten Feelings were left out, but there could be little complaint with the his setlist.
Jones revealed that he’d like to live and sing forever, so for better or worse, given his sparkling form that night, he might continue doing this longer than we expect. Was it the best show in recent memory? Maybe not. Were we entertained? Definitely.
Sir Tom Jones speaks to Richard Stubbs about his love of performing, his pre and post-show routine and what it was like working with different artists on his new album '24 Hours'.