Tom Jones at Greenwich Music Time
Legendary singer-songwriter Tom Jones OBE is known for his classy songs and smooth baritone vocals, and performing last night at the picturesque Royal Old Naval College for the annual Greenwich Music Time Festival, this is exactly what he provided.
Opening with the fiery Burning Hell, a John Lee Hooker cover, The Welsh performer instantly captures the crowd. He is as charming and charismatic as ever, and immediately engages with the audience, asking playfully: “Are we going to have a good time tonight?” The artist performs the blues-tinged traditional folk song Run On (Praise and Blame, 2010), inspired by Elvis Presley’s rendition, reminiscing about the time they used to jam together. He then moves onto Randy Newman’s Mama Told Me Not To Come, which contrasts piano melodies with classic drumming, accompanied by a large white sousaphone. Taking the show into gospel territory – with the banjo producing a country resonance – Jones covers Susan Wener’s Did Trouble Me, a solemn number imbued with religious intonations. The track clearly affects him, and he exclaims, “it will make you think. It makes me think at least.” Deciding to charge the atmosphere again with something livelier, the vocalist sings another traditional folk song, Raise a Ruckus, from 2015’s Long Lost Suitcase, keeping with the country theme. The first of Jones’ original compositions of the evening, Sex Bomb (Reload, 1999) does not possess quite the same punch of the recorded version; the tempo is considerably slowed, particularly in the intro, but nonetheless, the performance is a bold highlight.
Vintage footage of the singer plays on screen while he performs the swing-style Shake, trumpets shrilly blowing. The musician’s rendering of Solomon Burke’s Cry To Me is emotional and slightly melancholic, his dominant vocals passionately blaring, while a cover of Sometimes I Feel Like a Motherless Child demonstrates the power of the iconic figure’s baritone, still strong after 60 years. Other highlights of the evening include Johnny Cash’s Ring of Fire, Otis Redding’s Sitting on the Dock of the Bay, a well as audience favourites It’s Not Unusual and Delilah, the frontman revelling in the attention, exclaiming humorously, “if I knew that song was gonna get the reaction it did, I would’ve done it sooner.”
Louis Armstrong’s cosy number What a Wonderful World is also done justice, the vocalist joined on stage by Ruti Olajugbagbe, the winner of The Voice 2018, the TV singing competition on which he is a judge. The singer then pays tribute to “the late great Prince,” with Kiss, sensual and provocative like the original.
Though nearing 80, Jones still shows a determined and unparalleled drive on stage, sounding as he did at the start of his extensive career. While he undoubtedly gave the audience what they desired, his set could have been enhanced by further original material.
Photos: Guifre de Peray
For further information and future events visit Tom Jones’s website here.
Watch the video for Sex Bomb here: