Gig review: Tom Jones, Glasgow

Tom Jones was in good form. Picture: Michael Gillen
Tom Jones was in good form. Picture: Michael Gillen
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The ironic knicker-throwers are ignored; the chest hair is firmly tucked away and the grey hair embraced. Even Sex Bomb, the frothiest hit of his middle-aged lothario period, is reinvented as part blues lament, part New Orleans stomper.

Tom Jones | Kelvingrove Bandstand, Glasgow | Rating ****

For Sir Tom Jones has reached that point where an artist who has seen every showbiz fad go past circles round in their sunset years to remind us that actually, they are pretty damn cool after all.

With his excellent band, led by musical director Gary Wallis, clever arrangements rework the sillier hits to remove all the cheese, while allowing that extraordinary undimmed voice to boom out like a preacher on blues, gospel, bluegrass and rockabilly numbers. So Run On became a sinister howl; Delilah took on a mariachi tinge; a funked-up Kiss payed tribute to “the late great genius Prince” and, bar a few dirgy moments, it all cohered brilliantly.

Jones’ name-dropping became a running joke on The Voice, but when he declared that Elvis taught him to sing the next tune, it was actually a shivers-down-the-spine moment. And his roots in the working men’s clubs are recalled in a cover of Lonnie Johnston’s old standard Tomorrow Night, a favourite of his late wife he told the crowd, to sympathetic applause.

Only towards the end did he embrace the cheese, with a leering You Can Leave Your Hat On, death row singalong The Green Green Grass Of Home played straight and a lusty Thunderball, but it’s in the gospel finale of Strange Things Happening that you feel his heart now lies.