On Friday night, Tom Jones came to Clearwater finishing up one of the last dates of his American tour! A true music icon of popular music, Tom played The Ed Sullivan Show, was good friends with Elvis and charted his first number one worldwide hit “It’s Not Unusual” in 1965! Over a half century in the music business, Jones is one the of few of his contemporaries to have survived through it all.
Ruth Eckerd Hall was packed like sardines for the totally SOLD-OUT show with 40 to 80 somethings, some waving the green, white and red Welsh flag. At 78, Mr. Jones is still getting screams and whistles from women decades younger than the singer. His voice, smooth, soulful & aged like fine wine, it is unmistakable. Opening with “Burning Hell” from his 2010 album “Praise and Blame”, complete with red lights and fine art fire graphics, rockin’ on the John Lee Hooker cover.
An interesting cover choice was Three Dog Night’s classic, “Mama Told Me (Not to Come)”, which Tom recorded in 2003 on his “Greatest Hits Rediscovered” album. Most of the audience knew the song and were singing along. The 2000 smash hit “Sex Bomb” had the fans up and screaming. His tribute to Solomon Burke with “Cry to Me” had everyone head boppin’ and chair dancing. Jones delights the audience with the hit “Delilah”, which has been an unofficial anthem at Welsh rugby games since the 1970’s. Taking a serious gospel turn mid-show, Tom sings the haunting Blind Willie tune, “The Soul of a Man” with the ghost of a crucifix on the screen behind him, this is an amazing highlight followed by Leonard Cohen’s amazing “Tower of Song”. Taking the crowd on a walk down memory lane with “Green, Green Grass of Home” & “It’s Not Unusual”, a feel-good time.
Tom shares stories about Elvis and his recent visit to Nashville to check on his old friend, Jerry Lee Lewis, who recently had a stroke along with a trip to see Little Richard who he says has amazing skin. A reminder of just how long Sir Tom has been a part of contemporary music. Keeping it current with his stint as a judge for the last several years on The Voice UK. Be sure and check out Youtube for some great videos of Tom singing on the show. Closing out the show with the Louis Armstrong cover “What a Wonderful World”, which Tom sang on The Voice UK with the winner from his team, Ruti Olajugbagbe. One of Tom’s biggest fans is his fellow judge Jennifer Hudson!
1989’s cover of Prince’s “Kiss” that was a hit for Tom with the Art of Noise and on heavy MTV rotation was the dance tune of the night. Coming back for the last song of the evening, Mr. Jones introduces the band and talks about his first band when he was a teenager and how he wanted to go back to that beginning feeling and he has that with this current great group of musicians. A song by the great gospel pioneer Sister Rosetta Tharpe, “Strange Things Happen Every Day” leaves the audience on a lighthearted end. Words I heard from people on the way out, “amazing”, “magnificent”, “magical” and “timeless” – all of those and more describe the show and the legendary Sir Tom Jones!
Check out everything Tom at www.tomjones.com
Photos by Vicky Sullivan / The Sarasota Post