The moment Sir Tom Jones hit the stage and sang the opening words to I’m Growing Old, the audience knew this wasn’t your typical Tom Jones concert at Caesars Windsor this past weekend. There was indeed an older Sir Tom on that massive stage, at 82-years, making his way to a center stage stool by way of a walking stick. He stayed put on that stool for the entire show, explaining his upcoming second hip surgery and a sciatic attack that was torturing him, but, regardless of the uncomfortable stool and triggering pain, he gave the show of his life and one that changed my whole perspective of who and what Sir Tom Jones is all about.
My music library is large, my concert history is vast and my musical interests vary across all spectrums of sound, but the only thing I knew about Tom Jones before this night was a handful of overly played hit songs like What’s New Pussycat?, It’s Not Unusual, Kiss, and Delilah. Songs that spoke of pop fun and frolicking. To my surprise, the biggest of the two, What’s New Pussycat? and It’s Not Unusual almost felt out of place in this very dramatic and stylistic show that put a vulnerable Sir Tom front and center. That could have been one of the reasons these massive hits were so early in the set.
Heavily focused on music from his 41st studio album Surrounded By Time, the show had a very welcoming mature and moody sound that I wasn’t expecting. His voice was older, in similar ways to Johnny Cash’s American Recordings; not so fragile, but just as enjoyable. In fact, Sir Tom’s voice was at the top of his game, much like a bottle of Penderyn Bourbon Matured Single Cask Single Malt Welsh Whisky; it’s potent and fulfilling.
The show really took a turn when he performed versions of Sex Bomb and Delilah in a similar style to the newer songs, more focused on dramatics, sounds and words, giving the songs new life as if they were new all over again. Delilah was so dark and moody that the lyrics took on new meaning, matching the gruesome blood red video that soaked up the stage. I never knew such a happy sounding song was so cutting and deadly.
New songs like Popstar, Talking Reality Television Blues, and One Hell of a Life were the real showcase of this show. Sir Tom’s tones and storytelling abilities really shone here, much like the way Leonard Cohen would tell tales through his songs. To match this newfound expression, his cover of Cohen’s Tower of Song, which also appears on the new album, was the shining moment of the show. There was a magic in the performance of that song that was unlike any of the other songs and you could feel Sir Tom’s connection to the piece. It was the cornerstone of the concert, is the staple piece off the new album and feels like it was written just for him.
Just as potent was the newer song One Hell of a Life written in 1997 by Breton-Welsh singer-songwriter Katell Keineg which felt like he was reading from the pages of his own life story. The performance had a sense of intense yearning as Tom’s voice dug deep into an emotional trance that almost had him in tears.
He closed the show with a tip of the hat to his love of old classic rock and roll, pulling out some iconic 50s and 60s tracks, including Jerry Lee Lewis’ Great Balls of Fire and Chuck Berry’s Johnny B. Goode, for example.
At two hours, this was an evening of incredible songs performed to perfection. Some of them we knew well, some we were acquainted with, and several we may have never heard before – all of them reimagined in a glorious and moody way that clearly defines a new Sir Tom Jones as we had never seen before.
At this point I couldn’t imagine Sir Tom performing a regular pop show ever again. This new, mature pop crooner changed my perspective, opened my mind to a greater catalog of music and literally changed my life. Although some of the older ones in the audience didn’t fancy the new songs as much as the classics, everyone stayed until the end and appreciated a legendary show from a legendary performer.
September 23, 2022
All photos by Dan Savoie