Bringing the curtain down on ten days of British Summer Time shows in Hyde Park, Tom Jones stepped on to the Great Oak Stage and set it alight. Already bathed in evening sunlight, the backdrop was transformed into a flaming inferno as he began with a rocked-up version of John Lee Hooker’s Burning Hell. “When I die, where will I go?” Jones sang, his big, throaty voice accompanied to begin with by only two guitarists and a drummer. It sounded more White Stripes than What’s New Pussycat?. He returned to this gospel-blues theme later in the set with a propulsive version of Howlin’ Wolf’s Evil, a song that Jones recorded in 2012 with Jack White.
He’s been in showbiz for nearly 50 years but at almost 72 Sir Tom Jones is having something of a renaissance. He’s getting his best reviews in years and making his mark through his appearances on BBC1 talent show The Voice.
Another potent collection in the vein of 2010's back to the roots hit Praise & Blame. Spirit In The Room comes on the back of a 7-inch of Howlin' Wolf's Evil that Jones, now 71, recorded with Jack White. All of which makes perfect sense...
Read STV.com's Review of T In The Park: Forget any of the young pretenders, Tom Jones landed an early knockout blow as he took to T in the Park's Main Stage on the sunny Friday evening for a bellowing, hip-shaking set.
IT'S Blue Monday, scientifically calculated to be the most depressing day of the year, but Tom Jones is in town to cheer us all up with a swivel of the hips and his lusty, mischief-making holler. Right?
Not exactly. Tom Jones has got The Blues and he's spreading them around the pristine environs of the Concert Hall, in a righteous coup for Celtic Connections. While the festival regularly attracts folk heavyweights and world music superstars, this concert felt different, even bizarrely exotic. Jones the Voice has been booked to perform his latest album, Praise & Blame, a comparatively sober interpretation of gospel, blues and country standards which, he informed the crowd, was all Elvis Presley's idea in the first place.
Uncharacteristically for a Jones show, the atmosphere was muted as he took the stage, but his funereal version of Dylan's What Good Am I? hardly invited wild participation. And it would be plain inappropriate to throw undergarments at a man contemplating the very core of his being.
After this sombre opening, Jones let rip on the meaty blues strut of Lord Help. He got gruff and grizzly on the low-slung Nobody's Fault But Mine and hit the depths of his vocal range on Burning Hell, accompanied by some blistering guitar work. On the side of the angels, he summoned a testifying spirit on Strange Things, displayed celebratory gospel gumption on Pops Staples' Don't Knock and rocked the rhythm of a revival meeting on Didn't It Rain.
The country confessional If I Give My Soul sounded like something he might have cut back in the 60s, along with his encore of Green, Green Grass Of Home. But in rounding off with the unabashed cheese of It's Not Unusual it felt like Jones was throwing the fans a bone rather than keeping the courage of his convictions.
By Fiona Shepherd
Picture: Robert Perry
Review: He may no longer be a Sex Bomb, but Tom Jones’ appearance at the Glasgow Royal Hall last night as part of Celtic Connections’ gospel strand saw both singer and audience in deservedly high spirits.
In 2010 we saw the release of 'Praise & Blame' which contributed to a great year in the Tom Jones camp.
Continuing the critical acclaim throughout the year we are delighted to be featured in some "Reviews of the Year".
After our post on reaching Number 5 in the LA Times writers top 10, we thought we would share some more with you.
Jeff Spevak at the Democrat and Chronicle, chose 'Praise & Blame' as his number 1 album of the year.
Jeff says: "The No. 1 album surfaces not out of the urgency of the word, but because, whenever I put on the CD, guests would invariably ask, "What is this?" This is Tom Jones — with the record of his life.....When I last saw Tom Jones singing live, in 2006, one of the highlights was a bluesy take on the old traditional, "St. James Infirmary." He's continued that deep musical journey here with songs celebrating the roots of American music. There's no "What's New, Pussycat" kitsch. His aching, restrained take on Dylan's "What Good Am I?" is followed by a soul-rocking version of Jessie Mae Hemphill's "Lord, Help the Poor and Needy." At 70, Jones' voice still rises to the occasion, booming its way through the gospel of Sister Rosetta Tharpe's "Strange Things," while he and the guitars are a gritty match on John Lee Hooker's "Burning Hell." And Billy Joe Shaver's "If I Give My Soul" will shake you up. All I can say is, wow ... good work." Click here to read the full article
St. Cloud Times reviewer Karl Leslie, rates Praise & Blame at number 5 in his top ten.
Karl says: "Tom Jones, “Praise & Blame:” Yes. Tom Jones. After duping you with a melancholy cover of Dylan’s “What Good Am I?,” Jones proceeds to lay down the R&B comeback album of the year." Click here to read the full article
And at The Dallas Morning News, Mario Tarradells rates Praise & Blame at number 9 in his top ten albums of 2010.
Mario says: "From the opening note, Jones' robust voice rattles the bones. It's like you've never heard him, singing gospel, blues and rockabilly tunes with so much power and zest that he probably peeled the paint right off the recording-studio walls." Click here to read the full article
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.
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.
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
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 justified the moniker of The Voice beyond a shadow of a doubt in Christchurch last night. The Welsh singing star took the stage at the Town Hall to a deafening roar from a crowd that was there for a good time. So was Tom actually. He smiled, joked, winked, danced and of course sang, non-stop for just under two hours.
Jones, who turns 70 this year, didn't miss a beat. Apart from the 10-piece backing band being slightly overwhelming a few times, the show was slick, tight, professional and heaps of fun.
Hitting the stage with Sugar Daddy, (written for him by U2's Bono), the Welsh singing legend revelled in the lyrics which are essentially a mickey take.
Things quickly warmed up on stage and off. A size 24 pair of knickers were being waved around at one point. They looked as though they had something written on them; it might have been a phone number but on size 24 undies? Maybe it was an international number.
As the sweat poured and the songs flowed, Jones asked the audience, is it hot in here? Or am I just having a hot flush? He was really enjoying himself and so was the audience.
Delilah had us on our feet singing and waving. Leave Your Hat On, Mama Told Me Not To Come, Hard to Handle, What's New Pussycat, Put your Sweet Lips - they were all here and they were stunning.
After answering the demanding audience and returning for an encore, he blew the roof off the Town Hall with another two songs, including the Prince hit, Kiss.
Sweet and strong support was provided by the very talented Auckland musician Anna Coddington.
REVIEW Sir Tom Jones, at the Christchurch Town Hall, Thursday, February 25. Reviewed by Ali Jones
Everything Jones had to offer from his vast array of talent was on display in the Dunedin Town Hall.
He sang, he danced, he gyrated - still a lovely mover - for 90 minutes without a break.
From the moment he walked on to the stage, the personality of Jones filled the auditorium.
It would be surprising if anyone in the nearly packed Town Hall felt he was not singing directly to them; such was the strength of his presence.
The audience responded readily to any calls for participation through clapping or singing some of the ballads.
Jones drew them in and kept them enthralled throughout the night.
Fittingly, for a man ready to celebrate his 70th birthday in June, the first song was off his new album 24 Hours.
Sugar Daddy had the audience moving and clapping from the first chord.
The line "I've been singing this song since before you were born" could not have been more true for some in the audience.
In fact, if you were under 50, the line was particularly relevant.
The favourites rolled out throughout the night.
Thunderball, Delilah, Help Yourself and What's New Pussycat? had the crowd singing and dancing.
Jones sang three country songs, including The Green Grass of Home and Put Your Sweet Lips, in the rhythm style from his pub and club days in Wales.
Every time he swaggered, wiggled his backside or did some gentle pelvic thrusts, women in the audience whistled, clapped and cheered and it did not take long before the Town Hall stage was littered with knickers and a few flowers.
The audience erupted when an older woman walked purposefully to the stage and flung her knickers at the feet of the Welsh master as he sang She's A Lady.
The energy of the singer and his classy band remained at the highest possible levels throughout the performance.
The voice of Jones remains powerful and full of emotion.
It was a consummate performance.
Anna Coddington opened the evening.
Her 30 minutes of songs displayed some of this country's flourishing song-writing and singing talent.
By Dene Mackenzie
Looking as nimble as his fresh-faced ten-piece band, Jones shimmied about the stage, throwing in some cheeky pelvic thrusts and Welsh quips along the way. Opening with a saucy little number, Sugardaddy, his famously resonant voice shook the vines with songs from his new album 24 Hours and nostalgic hits Delilah, What's New Pussycat and She's a Lady.
As daylight faded, the set took a moodier turn as he showed his introspective side: "I tried to write a song that would explain what music had done for my life, and to thank God for giving me this voice," he said, before launching into a heart-wrenching tribute to everything his career had given him.
He stopped grooving and clutched the microphone as he sang his stirring promise to never fall in love again.
His elaborate band was stripped back to acoustic guitars for the third instalment of Sir Tom's performance - a seductive return to the old pub-singing days.
The crowd swayed along to He'll have to go, Green Green Grass of Home, and Save the Last Dance for Me. These sing-alongs led into the strobe-lit disco finale, which built to a crescendo in a pulsing version of Sex Bomb and ended with the banger It's Not Unusual.
And, with the mesmerised crowd left wondering what Sir Tom's secret to life-long party charm could possibly be, he returned, still twinkle-eyes and twinkle-toes for a stage-show encore - Take Me Back to the Party and his version of Prince's You Don't Have to be Rich.
He thanked his fans and said he had had a ball, and their squeals and kisses - and the odd pair of knickers - said they had too.
By Jacqueline Smith
The veteran Welsh singer rocked the Villa Maria Estate Winery last night to a loud, appreciative audience. After a slight technical hitch initially, where the usually vocally-strong rocker and his backup singers seemed to be a bit drowned out by the musical accompaniment, Jones went on to literally burn down the house.
Starting with some of his perhaps less-known songs, the vocals soon won out over the accompaniment with the first of his signature numbers, Delilah, got punters on their feet swaying.
As he sang the last few words of the song, "Forgive me Delilah I just couldn't take anymore," Jones held the microphone out to the audience for it to do its version of those words.
Another crowd warmer was the rousing Mama Told Me Not To Come.
A young couple sitting in the second row were asked what they were doing at the concert, being so young.
The answer: "Because it's Tom Jones, you know." The girl said she had grown up with the music.
Other rocking numbers including Mama I'm So Hard To Handle, Help Yourself, She's a Lady, Sex Bomb, Kiss and lastly Take Me Back To The Party, accompanied by pelvic thrusts, which were also acted out by the backing group, brought wild whoops and whistles from the audience.
Before singing Never Going To Give You Up, Jones dedicated the song to "the effect music has had on my life".
He said: "I tried to write a song about thanking God for giving me this voice."
Jones whipped up the crowd even more, getting punters to participate by shouting the question: "Oh yeah?" "Oh yeah?" "Oh yeah?" while flashing his eyes at them and swooning his female fans with: "Oh ladies, please!"
One young concert-goer, 22-year-old Ashleigh Marshall from Pukekohe, said she had seen the veteran pop star ten years ago at the North Harbour Events Centre in Albany and again in Las Vegas in 2008.
At least twice, Jones thanked the audience in his original Welsh tongue, saying "diolch yn fawr (thank you very much)".
He was encored hard at the end, after his large back-up group also left the stage shortly after him.
Jones returned to sock it to the audience twice more with the incomparable hit Kiss and Take Me Back To The Party.
With his 70th birthday looming in June, the singer has "still got it", both musically and personally, according to his wide age ranging fan base.
(Editor’s Note: Welsh singing sensation Tom Jones is touring Chile. His first performance was last Saturday in Viña del Mar, and he hit Talca and Santiago earlier this week. The 69-year-old legend, who has sold more than 100 million records worldwide and is best known for his hits “It’s Not Unusual,” “What’s New Pussycat” and “Delilah,” will wrap up the Chilean leg of his tour this weekend. When he was in the Chilean capital, Santiago Times writer Laura Burgoine had the chance to meet and greet the star. She recounts her experience here.) Santiago is still swooning after Tom Jones’ epic concert, and here at the Santiago Times, we have personally been swept off our feet by the legend himself. An intoxicating four-day TJ binge has seen this group of young journalism interns form a cult-like following of the music god in our very own Jonestown.
It began with two press-passes and five interns fighting for the chance to catch a glimpse of TJ onstage but ended with backstage cocktails, hanging with the band and all of us sipping wine, poolside, with Mr. Jones himself.
To backtrack a few nights: a quiet dinner at home with my co-workers was interrupted by an SMS-text invitation to join Tom Jones’ band for drinks. Instantly deserting our chicken and throwing on our best clothes, we raced to the bar in hopes of spotting the star. As we sat drinking with the band at the Backstage Bar in Santiago’s entertainment district, Jones sat inside with his personal assistant, quietly nursing a cognac.
We were stunned when the down-to-earth singer and his PA joined us on the patio. Oozing star quality, the bronzed, now grey-haired, music sensation sat with the little people, reflecting on his pre-fame days as a laborer while puffing on a Cuban cigar and sipping French champagne.
With style and grace, he chatted candidly, asked us about ourselves, told racy jokes and even belted out a few songs, although not his own. When the bar closed, he invited us all back to his five-star hotel for poolside beverages before personally hailing down three cabs off the street.
Santiago allowed Jones to mingle casually without being mobbed by paparazzi, but he was still a magnet for adoring fans. This is not a man who blends into the background. People of all ages, from all walks of life, approached him just to gush in his presence while our young waitress was rendered completely helpless by one of his infamous smoldering looks.
At 69, he’s still got it.
Jones and his “family” of crew and band members have been on the road since August last year and will keep rocking until March. Our own brief participation in the Santiago leg of his 24 Hours World Tour left us exhausted shells of our former selves. How Jones, his band and crew, maintain this wearying, fast-paced, exhilarating schedule is truly astonishing.
Jones said he performs on average 200 concerts a year and despite his wife’s constantly asking him to slow down, he insists he never will: singing and performing are his true loves.
His tour started in the UK and hit Europe and the USA before South America. It goes next to New Zealand, Australia and Asia.
In Santiago, Jones may have been a long way from the “Green, Green Grass of Home,” but he rocked Santiago’s Movistar Arena like the true entertainer he is. He thanked God for the gift he was blessed with, before wowing audiences with the vocal strength of a great tenor and the vigor of a Rockette. Crowds erupted as Jones performed classic hits: “Delilah,” “You Can Leave Your Hat On,” “It’s Not Unusual,” “What’s New Pussycat” and “Sex Bomb.”
Jones said the hit that continues to wow audiences is “I’ll Never Fall in Love Again.” But on Wednesday night, it was Jones’ “She’s a Lady” that got everyone to their feet. Crowds erupted with deafening applause, dancing and screaming; it was impossible not to be swept up by the music, the performance and the atmosphere. In true form, Jones, in a leather blazer and silk shirt, drove the audience wild with his signature thrusting gestures and enigmatic stage presence. The ten musicians onstage all shone around the star in what was truly a dazzling performance.
Jones did everything: introduced his songs, talked with the audience, and at the end introduced and saluted each of the musicians. The audience went wild when he thanked them in Spanish and provocatively towelled himself off with a Chilean flag thrown onstage. He was unfazed because when you’re Tom Jones and screaming women throw things on stage, it’s not unusual.
By Laura Burgoine
If Tom Jones’ peepers were a watery shade of blue, his butt wiggles less thrusting and provocative and his vocal chords not so perfectly powerful, he might have remained in some Welsh valley singing down the working men’s club every weekend for a few quid and a pint. But God was on his side back in 1940 and and Jones deigned to follow in his coal miner father’s footsteps, instead choosing music and to search out the limelight.
His first band, Tommy Scott and The Senators, had a bit of a name for themselves in 1963, but when he released debut album Along Came Jones two years later, recognition came thanks to It’s Not Unusual, an easy-listening track and his second single which went to number one in the UK and closed Thursday’s Luna Park show. In 1965 he also released What's New Pussycat, which also made it onto last Thursday’s set list.
With his bushy white hair — no mean feat to have a headful at 69 — and bushy white beard, Jones wasn’t physically so different to the God he thanked for giving him his voice, or indeed to actor Morgan
Freeman, according to Welsh Elvis fan Fiona.
Smart in a leather jacket, Mr Jones definitely does not look his age and kicked off the night, accompanied by his 10-piece band, with the Bono-scribed song Sugar Daddy from latest album 24 Hours (2008). Although his teeth are a bit day-glo and slightly offputting, Jones is so bloody happy and revelling in his performance that a close relationship with his dentist can be ignored.
Give A Little Love was followed up by a stupendous third track of the night Thunderball (1966), theme to the James Bond film. Wow, it was heaven to hear 007 live and barely warmed up, Jones was in full belting-them-out force.
First pelvic thrust of the night came at track four with In Style And Rhythm, also from 24 Hours, and Jones included funk (Hard To Handle), country (Green Green Grass of Home, 1966), easy listening dance (She’s A Lady, 1971) and rocky pop (Mama Told Me Not To Come, 2000) in the 25-strong set, keeping the generations happy.
First ovation of the night came at the half-way point with his beautiful acoustic version of ballad I'll Never Fall in Love Again but it didn’t stop there. Once the country section was over, Leave Your Hat On, Sex Bomb and Kiss kept the packed auditorium on its feet, roaring full approval although fortunately the ladies in the audience remembered it was 2010 and refrained from throwing underwear as if it were 1967.
By Sorrel Moseley-Williams Herald staff