Music review: Tom Jones, Hydro, Glasgow

At this Glasgow show Tom Jones struck an assured balance between crowd-pleasing singalongs and textured, tonal variety, writes Jay Richardson

Tom Jones, Hydro, Glasgow ****

Though elegiac in parts, opening sombrely with Bobby Cole’s I Feel Old and a lament for the passing of his late wife, followed by Bob Dylan's Not Dark Yet, this latest stop on Tom Jones’s Ages & Stages tour found the grizzled crooner full of fiery enthusiasm for the stage, delivering a two-hour set that struck an assured balance between fan favourites and surprises, crowd-pleasing singalongs and textured, tonal variety.

Acknowledging his 83 years, yet declaring he feels almost half that, his standout tracks at this Glasgow show were the battle-scarred ballads, with a wry, shuffling Tower of Song making his case for a place in the great performing pantheon. Across The Borderline and One More Cup of Coffee (Valley Below) were full of bittersweet regret and nostalgic longing, but underscored with contentment for a life well-lived. Green Green Grass of Home was the night's centrepiece and simply magnificent, seemingly still raw with emotion for him.

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Tom Jones at the Hydro, Glasgow PIC: Calum BuchanTom Jones at the Hydro, Glasgow PIC: Calum Buchan
Tom Jones at the Hydro, Glasgow PIC: Calum Buchan

Jones's rich, resonant baritone remains an exceptional instrument, yet one he wields with measured skill. The potentially embarrassing Sex Bomb now growls into life as a slow blues number before finding its lolloping lustiness, while It's Not Unusual has taken on a worldly, bossa nova swing, incorporating congas and the accordion. Naturally, the likes of Delilah and What's New Pussycat? got the crowd revved up and purring for more, bbut less predictably, Talking Reality Television Blues and Lazarus Man were apocalyptic, grimly political and delivered with the weighty incantation of an Old Testament prophet.

As an entertainer to his bones though, Jones closed out his set with Prince's Kiss, still swaying with amorous intent, before capping the encore with Chuck Berry's Run Rudolph Run, sending the audience off into the night with fond, festive wishes, and appreciation for a legend who's far from simply trading on his legacy.