Review: ‘Tom Jones’

Tom Jones

The idea of a 68-year-old man crooning Prince's "Kiss" while lifting his shirt and rubbing his stomach is not especially appealing. But that was the climax of Tom Jones' hugely entertaining Friday night set at L.A. Live's Club Nokia in a 100-minute show that found the Welsh singer having more fun than would appear healthy for a man his age.

The idea of a 68-year-old man crooning Prince’s “Kiss” while lifting his shirt and rubbing his stomach is not especially appealing. But that was the climax of Tom Jones’ hugely entertaining Friday night set at L.A. Live’s Club Nokia in a 100-minute show that found the Welsh singer having more fun than would appear healthy for a man his age.

“The older I get/The better I was” he confides in “In Style and Rhythm,” the snaky, Bono and Edge-written highlight from last year’s “24 Hours” (S-Curve). The album successfully placed Jones in an Amy Winehouse/Duffy retro soul setting; at the Nokia, he performed his songs with an energy, flair and wit that should put performers half his age to shame. His voice has retained its size — he can still blast through, but he’s canny in parceling the power, saving his big notes for the tunes’ emotional climaxes.

The new songs present him as a knowing silver-haired sage, announcing his virility (his rambunctious cover of Tommy James and the Shondells’ “I’m Alive” that opens both the album and show), offering younger men mating advice (the aforementioned “In Style”), consoling their women (the slippery seduction of “If Ever He Should Leave You”) and declaring his imperfect but passionate love (the pounding melodrama of “Never” and rueful rationale of “The Road”).

But then, American music has never been far from the Welsh crooner’s heart, as the rest of his set made clear. Jones gracefully takes on country (Porter Wagoner’s maudlin death-row ballad “Green, Green Grass of Home”); blues (a bawdy, hip-shaking “200 Pounds of Joy,” with Jones wryly noting that he slimmed the song down from Howlin’ Wolf’s “300 Pounds”); boogie woogie (a rollicking stroll down Jerry Lee Lewis’ “End of the Road”); Vegas (a loving take of Sinatra’s “Fly Me to the Moon”); and even polka (the jaunty “Help Yourself”).

They’re played by a tight, nine-piece band — including horns and backup singers and anchored by the powerfully flexible drumming of Herman Matthews — that’s adept at whatever style the song demands. Studded throughout were Jones’ big hits, including the lustily romantic “It’s Not Unusual” and “She’s a Lady.”

Tom Jones

Club Nokia; 2,300 capacity; $65 top

Production

Presented by Goldenvoice. Reviewed March 6, 2009.

Cast

Band: Jones, Brian Moroney (music director), Kenny Anderson, Herman Matthews, Frank Strauss, Kevin Richardson, Michael Turnbull, Bill Churchville, Ric Fierabracci, Sharon Hendrix, Darelle Holden, Tony Reynolds.

Filed Under:

Want to read more articles like this one? SUBSCRIBE TO VARIETY TODAY.
Post A Comment 0

Marketplace

    Leave a Reply

    No Comments

    Comments are moderated. They may be edited for clarity and reprinting in whole or in part in Variety publications.

    Fill in your details below or click an icon to log in:

    WordPress.com Logo

    You are commenting using your WordPress.com account. Log Out / Change )

    Twitter picture

    You are commenting using your Twitter account. Log Out / Change )

    Facebook photo

    You are commenting using your Facebook account. Log Out / Change )

    Google+ photo

    You are commenting using your Google+ account. Log Out / Change )

    Connecting to %s

    More Music News from Variety

    Loading