By Leah Victoria
Artist: Tom Jones
Date / Venue: Saturday March 19th, 2016 - Vector Arena, Auckland
Tom Jones wasted no time in 'Burning Down The House' last night at Auckland’s Vector Arena!
The venue was slightly shortened tonight. This theatre style arrangement bought a more intimate “an evening with” vibe, which seemed much better suited to the three generation audience who were calmly but excitedly awaiting their soulful blues and country sounds. Three Tom Jones impersonators do the rounds of the packed out crowd encouraging a sing-a-long to Delilah and get the fans waving their hands in anticipation for the real deal!
With no delays, just after 8pm the well dressed, dapper silver fox takes to the stage and supported by a 9 man band including strings, sax, tuba and trombone, opens with Burning Hell from his 39th studio album Praise And Blame.
Over the next two hours, an incredible artist who’s career has spanned five decades treated his audience to a historic catalogue of hits, from the usual famous favourites such as Sex Bomb to less remembered country and blues treasures.
The sexy hip gyrating has been replaced with a more modest knee bend, but Tom can still get his fans going with his signature holler of “Oh Yeah?” between each animated performance! And just to ensure we still got that sexy Tom Jones experience, his old moves were bought back to life on the giant screen behind him as his younger self was portrayed.
His sound is hard to fit into one genre of music. Tonight we heard soulful blues, tossed in with classic country beats, gospel lyrics and rockabilly jive, it’s safer not to put this welsh entertainer into any category other than Alternative. Tom interacted well with his fans and responded to song requests with “Yes, we’ll get there, don’t worry! I’m going to be doing as many as humanly possible tonight!” in his unmistakeable husky Pontypridd accent.
He gave a haunting tribute to Elvis with Elvis Presley Blues, following a story about how he would jam with the superstar back at the Hilton Hotel in Las Vegas back in the 60’s.
Delilah was delivered with punchy Mediterranean style strings and had a good majority of the crowd up on their feet dancing, and those who remained seated joined in with an arm wave or a clap. The first verse of Sex Bomb was performed teasingly slow and acoustic which was a perfect change for this upbeat track.
By three quarters of the way through the night I only noticed two pairs of pink panties that had made it onto the stage, although there were several “grown up” ladies swinging their draws above their heads, I suspect maybe arthritis prevents them from flinging them these days!
Taking a polite bow after each rendition he took the time to acknowledge the welsh flags flying off the balconies and down on the floor and chuckled with a fan wearing a traditional welsh daffodil on her head! The audience was illuminated several times through out the night bringing a real personable feel to the show.
This wasn’t a production packed with his chart topping hits from the 60’s & 70’s, rather a well thought out selection of sophisticated old and newer sounds. We experienced the obvious favourites such as It’s Not Unusual, and You Can Leave Your Hat On, along with a couple of great covers such as Leonard Cohen's Tower Of Song.
The night had the perfect pace with the order in which he delivered an impressive 20 songs, each one building the tempo a little more, as the fans lapped up his lusty, gutsy baritone voice.
After a couple of minutes of thundering feet stomping, cheers and whistles he was encouraged back on stage where he bought the show to an explosive climax with a further three song encore. The James Bond soundtrack Thunderball and massive 1989 hit Kiss, ending with plenty of fans dancing to his “Country, Rock n Roll, Gospel, Rhythm n Blues Boogie Woogie song” Strange Things.
Tom Jones may be close to 76 years old, and a little slower on his feet, but there’s no doubt that this man lives for entertaining and his voice has never sounded better! Has Tom Jones still got it? I think so!