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BBC News Tom Jones has staged a triumphant return to his home town of Pontypridd with an open-air concert for about 20,000 fans. He performed hits from throughout his 40-year career to the crowds at Ynysangharad Park on Saturday night. "Tom Jones in Ponty Park" marked his 65th birthday next week. Police said there were no big problems. There were three arrests in the park - two for trying to supply drugs and one for being drunk and disorderly. "I will never forget it and it is most definitely a story to tell the grandchildren. Tom Jones in Ponty Park - magnificent" Concert-goer Meriel Oliver It was a remarkable night, as Jones sang within a few hundred yards of Laura Street in Treforest, where he grew up honing one of the most distinctive voices in showbusiness. It's a voice which has brought him consistent success and untold wealth over four decades, and it was still in fantastic fettle back where it all began. Jones was greeted like a conquering hero as he appeared, dressed in lilac suit, studded black shirt and familiar cross medallion around his neck. Naturally, his greatest hits wrought the loudest cheers, from the breakthrough number one It's Not Unusual, through to What's New Pussycat, Thunderball, and Delilah. And - of course - Green, Green Grass of Home, with a nod of the head towards Laura Street as he reached the line... "The old house is still standing, though the paint is cracked and dry." But the ecstatic reception for more recent songs - from Prince's Kiss to Sex Bomb and his Stereophonics duet Mama Told Me Not to Come - showed how he has won fans across the generations to stay at the top. In between songs, Jones fondly recalled his visits to Ponty Park as a young boy and with his own son Mark, born when Tom Woodward was a teenager dreaming of stardom. Jones told the audience that his last concert in Ponty was on 30 June, 1964, at the White Hart pub with Tommy Scott and the Senators. The next day he went to London, on 11 November he recorded It's Not Unusual, and on St David's Day 1965 it hit number one. He spoke beforehand about how it would be a night for people from Ponty and the surrounding valleys, and the warm-up pushed all the right buttons. Highlights from Wales' recent Grand Slam rugby win were shown, with recorded tributes to the singer from some players and well-known Welsh faces. But some of these went down better than others: Pontypridd-born ex-international Neil Jenkins and former Stereophonics drummer Stuart Cable won wild cheers, while both First Minister Rhodri Morgan - another 65-year-old who told Jones that was no age to retire - and teenage singer Charlotte Church were booed. There was, though, a warm welcome from both the star of the night and the crowd for Welsh classical singer Katherine Jenkins. She appeared after Green, Green Grass of Home to serenade him with happy birthday and to present him with a massive cake.
Most of the crowd appeared to be local, and some women wore spare knickers over their jeans, ready to throw on stage. But one man, Claudio Pini, had travelled from Palma, Italy, to be there. Claudio, aged 44 - and membership number 1,901 in the Tom Jones Appreciation Society - brought with him both his girlfriend and a beautiful £400 miniature pool table which he has been trying to present to him for some months. Claudio was disappointed at failing to meet his idol to hand over the table, but this fan of 28 years was clearly not about to give up. Other fans from closer to Tom's home were just as impressed with the show.
"I thought it was gwych (fantastic)," said Liz Cameron, aged 32, originally from Nantgarw, near Pontypridd, and now living in Cardiff. 'What a brilliant night': the verdict of Pontypridd fan Meriel Oliver "He was as good as I expected. And very sexy." Meriel Oliver, aged 26, from Trallwn, Pontypridd, said: "From a young age I've been aware of 'the importance of being Tom Jones'. "I feel extremely glad to have seen him in the home town and very proud of him as he is in my opinion a true Welshman. "What a brilliant night. I will never forget it and it is most definitely a story to tell the grandchildren. Tom Jones in Ponty Park - magnificent." Police said the event went smoothly after people arrived early and used public transport. Chief Superintendent Brian Greaves said: "It seems that most concert-goers heeded our advice and made use of the park and ride facilities signposted from major roads, or shared lifts, so the anticipated road congestion in the town centre and on the A470 was avoided. "It did take some time to get everyone away after the show with 20,000 people all leaving at once, trying to get to the park and ride and relatives and friends trying to pick people up. "
Luckily the delays weren't too long and the congestion was dealt with in about 45 minutes. "It was the first event of this kind in Pontypridd and the emergency services, the local authority and the organisers have learnt a great deal from the experience, which will help us to develop and improve any subsequent plan for events in the park." http://news.bbc.co.uk/go/pr/fr/-/1/hi/wales/south_east/4590941.stm
Tom Comes Home - South Wales Echo Review: Jo Manning Las Vegas! Hollywood! Ponty Park? There's only one person who could connect all three of those places - and that's Tom Jones. Having been around the world and sampled the kind of life the rest of us can only dream of for more than 40 years. The Voice was back performing in his home town at the weekend and it meant an awful lot to everyone there - even Tom himself. I spotted the singer striding from his backstage paddock to the stage just minutes before he was due on and Tom - the consummate cool-as-a-cucumber performer - actually looked nervous. But once the man hit the stage and started belting out hit after hit for his inflatable daffodil-wielding, knicker-throwing, Welsh flag waving fans, it was business as usual. And what a business. Tom may be 64 years old (65 later this week actually) but he's still got a wicked wiggle to go with those fantastic pipes. And it wasn't just those who paid who enjoyed Tom. The hills surrounding the park were packed with his fans, and they looked like something out of Braveheart as they gazed down on the 20,000-plus throng. Backed by a tight eight-piece band and backing singers, Tom played his greatest hits with his usual amount of gusto and good humour. The highlights depended on which were your favourite, but I adore the overblown ballads like (It Looks Like) I'll Never Fall in Love Again and A Boy From Nowhere which allowed Tom to show off that voice. The kitsch Kiss and You Can Leave Your Hat On were also great moments. Soprano Katherine Jenkins even joined Tom at the end of It's Not Unusual for some trilling and a special rendition of Happy Birthday for the local boy. But no-one could deny the emotion when he - and the crowd - sang Green, Green Grass of Home at the tops of their voices, backed by images of his Valleys home on gigantic screens.
Rhondda Leader Tom Jones fans packed outside the Muni Arts Centre when it opened its doors last Wednesday. It followed the announcement of the May show to be held in Ynysangharad Park. The queue streamed down the side of the Pontypridd building by the time it opened at 9am, as news spread of Jones The Voice's homecoming. Fans with cash and credit cards at the ready waited patiently for the £32.50 tickets and were not even bothered when it started to rain. There were 25,000 tickets up for grabs for the May 28 concert, but a limited number of 2,000 went on sale at the Muni the day before going on general release. It was all part of Tom's plan to make sure the home audience got there first. The tickets were sold out in no time, with Muni Arts Centre Lisa Morris anxiously awaiting the second batch of tickets to arrive. Tom could have chosen Las Vegas, Paris, London or even Cardiff for his celebratory concert. But Ponty's proudest son wanted to perform once again in the home town where his illustrious career started. It will be his only concert in the UK this year. "I spent the first 24 years of my life in Wales, so that never leaves you," said the proud Welshman. "I carry Wales with me all the time. It's part of me - I'm Welsh." Tom's show will be similar to those performed at venues across America, where he is now based. "I will come over with my band and do my 90-minute show and keep the big songs in," said Tom, who lives in Los Angeles, as details of the gig were unveiled. "I think the stuff I'm doing will be great, and I think people will love it." He will also be performing songs from his duets album Reload and from his latest album featuring Jools Holland. Fans are warned not to expect to see any other stars accompany him on stage. As his agent Phil Bowdery points out: "This is all about Tom." Bowdery said that performing in Pontypridd again - where Tom famously made his mark on the club and pub circuit as he started out during the late 1950s and early 1960s - was something the singer had wanted to do for a long time. "It was a question of finding the right venue and right time," said Bowdery. "And due to the significance of this year, it was absolutely perfect." Tom's agent believes that on the night the superstar will be more than a little emotional, as he catches up with his old friends. "I don't think it can be anything other than emotional," said Bowdery. The concert - the first to be performed at Ponty Park and promoted by the PopFactory, in Porth - will certainly be a far cry from Tom's last performance in Pontypridd, in 1964. While he now commands thousands for a performance, for his pub gig he received just £10 - which he divided with his band. "It will be the first time for me to play a gig of that size in Ponty," said Tom of his anniversary concert. "The last time, before I moved to London, I played in the top room of the White Hart Pub." Although the pub may now be an empty shell of a building, the young musician who once played there is now a global phenomenon. Although the Pontypridd concert will mark Tom's 65th birthday, which is actually on June 7, the singer shows no sign of slowing down. He says he probably sings more now than he ever has before. "I'm singing most of the time," said Tom. "I love singing. If I was not doing a gig, I would be singing anyway." "People say, 'when will you retire?' but I say 'What to'?"
Adrian Gregory Glover, The Aquarian We all know him as the dude who has had more panties thrown at him than any other 10 male stars combined on their best day. But Tom Jones is more than just a mack for show-bound MILFs across the globe. He's spent over 40 years in the spotlight as a consummate showman, vocalist and all-around entertainer that brings his A-game every time he steps in front of a microphone. Lately working with the likes of legendary keyboardist Jools Holland and Wyclef Jean, Jones has managed to keep himself relevant in a sea of kids who fade from glory in months. It was recently my honor and pleasure to drop a few questions his way. Simply put, dude, you are the man, and you got to know this. So looking back on it all, how did it all come to this point? The first thing that you have to get is a hit record, any singer will tell you that. That is the first and most important thing that you have to do and you will instantly see all of the big differences between how things were and how they are after you get that hit record. Then you have to be lucky enough to get another one. Some of us are not that lucky. I remember back in 1964, I recorded 'It's Not Unusual' and that came out in 1965. That was a hit for me and right after that I got really lucky and I received 'What's New Pussycat' from Burt Bacharach and then I ended up with 'Green Green Grass (Of Home).' So there has been some luck involved for certain. I got the right material at the right time and there are a lot of singers who don't get that. I'm versatile though. If you want the longevity you have to go for that. I can feel that. You are, hands down, one of the greatest showmen, singers and performers of all-time. How do you still get excited about doing the live thing? It's the people themselves digging what you do that gets you going. You don't ever want to stop. It's almost like a drug. It's the best part of my day. You know, sometimes I will be out in a club on a night off and the band will ask me to get onstage with them and I'll get up with them and you know (my handlers) will go, 'Are you crazy? Save yourself for your show you know. Don't go leaving your best performances here.' I can't stop myself from singing. You must think all of the breed of pop stars are crazy then. They work half your schedule and complain quite a bit about it. No I don't. I know how it is. When you first start out, it's different. It comes back to the first hit single again. Before you have that first hit single, you are not working as much, you are doing a gig here and a gig there. When you get that first hit under your belt, they want you to be in two places at once. You are not singing for pleasure anymore. You are singing on demand and that might not be so much fun when you are just becoming a professional. What does music contribute still to your life? It gives me something to do that I love to do and I can get paid for it. I thank God that I don't have to get up and do a job just to pay the bills like most people do. I thank God that he has fiven me this talent to do something that I really love. Music is always around me. I love new songs. They excite me, they really do. Doing them never gets old for me. I love hearing the music that other people have made so there is a combination of listening and creating. There is always a boom box around me or maybe a tv is on with music coming out of it from a video channel or a late night show with a performance. But it is always there for me. Tom Jones has always taken risks in what you put out in the marketplace. Has that been one of the hallmarks of your career? I like a lot of different kinds of songs. [But] I get resistance from record companies or even other singers sometimes about doing some things that I have tried. I remember when I first met Elvis (Presley) and he loved what I was doing and it was quite a thrill, you know, of course. I had done an album of standards at the time and I took it to him. He was always asking me what I was puffing out or what was new and he really enjoyed what he heard. But not with the standards album. Man, he pulled me aside and he said, 'Tom, we don't do that.' That was great for me because he pulled me into his world for a second. So he proceeds to go ahead and say, 'We leave things like that to Frank Sinatra.' Now I really like standards so it was too bad that he didn't enjoy it. But I will go into some areas that other singers will not go into. I will take that chance if I want to. Sometimes it has been wrong for my image and then it might have backfired because my shows are so tongue in cheek and maybe the songs were more serious but that is the way it goes. What attracts you to a song to where you want to cover it? There has to be a certain thing you look for? I have to really feel the song. I really don't write a lot of songs. Every now and again I will co-write a song but I really don't consider myself a master songwriter, so I have to feel a song as if I did write it. I have to be able to put my own stamp on it and make it sound genuine. I remember Frank Sinatra once told me how concerned he was for me because of how I sing. I get so into it, you know. And I told him, 'Hey that's the only way that I know how to sing!' I have to get out there and go for it, and a song has to let me do that. Some songs because of how they're built, they make it quite difficult for you to make them your own. I just did an album of songs with this boogie woogie player in the UK named Jools Holland. The songs are phenomenal. It's all songs that we love that go back to the roots of it all. There is a lot of Jerry Lee Lewis on it and as a matter of fact we went out of our way to pick some songs that were not so obvious. You can't really out-do 'Great Balls of Fire' anyway, so instead we picked a song called 'End of the Road'. It's a great tune. It was always an album track and when he [Lewis] came to see me in Las Vegas I played it for him. He looks at me and he goes, 'I wrote that, didn't I?' I said, 'Well, yeah.' and he goes ' Good, now I will get paid for it.' That's almost like a gift in itself Sure. He's one of the greatest and for him to give me his stamp of approval was amazing. That has been the best thing so far - meeting a lot of people that I grew up idolizing and respecting along the way. That has made it a lot of fun. Nothing is better than the people though and I guess that is the gift for me.
Global superstar, Tom Jones, is proud to announce a return to his native Pontypridd in Wales this Whitsun Bank Holiday, for a spectacular one-off outdoor birthday concert for 25,000 people at the town's Ynysangharad Park, a.k.a. Ponty Park, on Saturday May 28th. As one of the world's biggest and most popular stars of the last 5 decades, Jones has performed at all of the world's most famous venues. The open-air concert at Ponty Park, however, will be Tom's first ever in his hometown, Pontypridd, and his only UK performance during 2005. The legendary Mr Jones, known simply by millions as "The Voice", will be 65 this year, and has been planning a major celebratory concert to mark the event for some time. He recently confirmed local production company, The Pop Factory, as producers of the event, and hopes that the show will prove to be an inaugural event for Ponty Park, encouraging others to follow in his footsteps, and bring further world-class concerts and events to the town. This once-in-a-lifetime opportunity to see Tom Jones - literally on his home turf - will be attended by fans from all over the world. In an extraordinary move to ensure his fellow Pontypriddians have first chance to attend the event, Tom has instructed organisers to confine ticket sales initially to his fan clubs and to the Muni Arts Centre in Pontypridd where tickets will go on sale 24 hours prior the national and international ticket agencies listed below. Tom comments: "I love the Park and I have a lot of wonderful memories there. I've flown the Dragon all over the world since 1965, and now 40 years later — in the Grand Slam year for our Rugby teams— I'm thrilled we've been able to organize a very special show for the town. The Park is a perfect place to bring everyone together – it's a beautiful spot and deserves to be playing an important part in creating many special moments in people's lives. It'll be a great night, so come on everybody—I'll see you there!!" Event promoter, Emyr Afan, of the Pop Factory said; "Tom has supported the Pop Factory from the outset and it's a great honour that he has turned to us to stage this landmark concert. It will be a truly great moment when he sings 'Green, Green Grass of Home'." Tickets are priced at £32.50 and will be on-sale Wednesday in person at the Muni Arts Centre in Pontypridd and to members of TomJones.com from Thursday March 24, via the CIA Box Office, Red Dragon FM ticketline, Ticketline UK, Ticketmaster, Swansea and The Pop Factory in Porth. Tickets will be advertised to the public as from Friday March 25. CIA Box Office: 029 20 224488 Ticketline UK: 08700 667799 Muni Arts: 01443 485934 Ticketmaster: 0870 4000688 The Pop Factory: 01443 688500
Shirley Fishwick in California reports... March 1st is St. David's day, the national holiday of Wales. This St. David's Day, March 1st 2005, was also the 40th anniversary of It's Not Unusual hitting number one on the charts. To mark the occasion, two of us at Tom's March 1 show in Las Vegas made an anniversary card and took it around so audience members could sign it. Even working with two pens so two people could sign at once there wasn't enough time for everyone to sign who wanted to. The front of the card, decorated with an orange dragon, said, "Dydd Gwyl Dewi Hapus! March 1, 1965 — St. David's Day — It's Not Unusual hits #1 — Happy 40th Tom! Keep It Up!" Inside it said, "Tom, We're happy to be with you on this special night!" Among the audience were lots of people from the UK (Manchester alone had six representatives), one couple from the town next to Pontypridd. One lady had been a fan since 1969 and had never seen him in person. Even staff from the Hollywood Theater signed. After the third song, Tom walked back to the stool with his water and picked up, first, a leek, explaining that the leek is the Welsh symbol and that it was St. David's Day. He did the same with a potted daffodil. That, of course, was our cue. Two of the women at our table lifted up the card. Tom came right over and accepted it. "Oh, look, you've gone the whole nine yards," he said, indicating the Welsh words and dragon. "Tom," said one of the women, "please open it." He did and saw all of the signatures. "My, everyone signed it, didn't they?" he asked. We asked if we could take a photo of him with the card and he posed. As always, he was charming and gracious and, as always, the show was smashing. Shirley Fishwick San Mateo, CA, USA, formerly of Llantrisant, Wales