Live review: Tom Jones, Summer Sessions, Mon 6 Aug
- Henry Northmore
- 7 August 2018
The Welsh crooner belts out the hits and shows a softer side with his love of gospel and blues
Tom Jones has been many things to many people throughout his long career: pop megastar, housewife's favourite, kitsch classic, perma-tan punchline, serious blues interpreter, even a brief moment as an unlikely indie icon. And his live show brings all these myriad strands together with style and panache.
Jones is the consummate showman. It's a feisty crowd up for a party, mainly, how can we put this delicately, women of a certain age, every flash of his twinkling blue eyes elicits screams of delight from the audience. Even though he goes back to his roots and starts with a series of gospel numbers he can effortlessly sell a tune. We all know Jones can use his voice like a sledgehammer but the gospel and blues material show a softer, human side, rich with emotion.
Backed by a bluegrass band boasting tuba, banjo and acoustic guitars for the first half, the usually bombastic 'Sex Bomb' is slowed down and played as a sultry jazz funk number. This segues into a 50s rock'n'roll section with 'Take My Love' and 'Rock Around The Clock' before going country for 'Ring of Fire' (joined by support act and The Voice finalists Into the Ark on backing vocals) while 'Delilah' is given a mariachi twist.
However Tom's still an old smoothie who would never short change his fans. Back loading his set with surefire hits like 'Green, Green Grass of Home', 'What's New Pussycat?', 'It's Not Unusual', 'You Can Leave Your Hat On' and 'Kiss'. And at 78 Jones' vocals are still big and powerful and the new arrangements of his biggest hits mixed with well judged covers, a few great stories (and yes he does mention Elvis within five minutes of coming on stage) all adds up to a dignified, unexpectedly sophisticated night of slick crowd pleasing entertainment.
Reviewed at Summer Sessions, Princes Street Gardens, 6 Aug.