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LIVE: TOM JONES with Germain – Perth, 20 March 2024

| 21 March 2024 | Reply

LIVE: TOM JONES with Germain – Perth, 20 March 2024
Kings Park Botanical Gardens, Perth, Western Australia
Reviewed by Shane Pinnegar
Photography by Luke Baker (except as noted)

It’s a gorgeous early autumn evening in Perth as exuberant sister trio Germein – Georgia, Ella & Clara – take the outdoor amphitheatre stage in the lush Kings Park Botanical Gardens for a short but passionate set which did well to command people’s attention away from grazing boards and $150 bottles of bubbles long enough to applaud politely.

After a couple of slower ballads they closed their set with the bouncy Talking and energetic Sunshine, both immediately catchy tunes which served as a good intro to those of us unfamiliar with their work.

Georgia Germein

Punctual to a Tee, Sir Tom Jones ambles on stage at exactly ten past eight, takes a stool centre stage and launches into I’m Growing Old with only a piano accompaniment. The Welsh stalwart has lived one hell of a life (as he’ll sing later), and he’s far from the sprightly groover he once was – but any thought of frailty goes out the window as soon as THAT voice launches like Concorde breaking the sonic boom.

What follows is an enthralling, swirling swim through his storied, epic career, from (almost) the beginning – recorded in late 1964, his second single and first hit, It’s Not Unusual, reached number 1, he says, by the first of March 1965 – to his most recent album Surrounded By Time – which in 2022 made Jones the oldest man to have a number one UK album.

Photo by Shane Pinnegar

The tour is called Ages & Stages, and it – like the Surrounded By Time album – confronts the obvious head on: Tom’s getting on, as do we all. He’s just 2 ½ months shy of his 84th birthday, and his shuffling gait on and off stage shows he is not immune to the inevitability of aging, as do the lines on his deeply tanned face. When he smiles, though, he still absolutely glows with animal magnetism, and that twinkle in his eye is enough to make you think twice about leaving your partner – or daughter… or mum – alone in a room with him.

Perhaps to emphasise the theme of time and aging, the stage is lit moodily, draped in dark shades and shadows – too moodily, if I’m honest – the rear video screen providing most of the colour. That said, the backdrops are engaging and mostly bright where appropriate.

In contrast to some of the heavier subject matter about age wearying us, Jones keeps the banter cheeky and light-hearted, gently flirting with the crowd on this beautiful early Autumn night, sharing warm anecdotes and the occasional nudge and a wink.

Highlights are plentiful: The sexy bossa nova groove of It’s Not Unusual; Sex Bomb’s new incarnation as first a slow blues torch song before morphing into an R&B shuffle with every ounce of the old horndog within that he can muster; Green Green Grass Of Home with its dark lyrical twist; Dylan’s One More Cup Of Coffee; Todd Snider’s Talking Reality Television Blues, here sounding more like the ragged glory of Pearl Jam rather than a Welsh septuagenarian; the wonderful Tower Of Song (and when he sings “I was born with the gift of a golden voice” well, Leonard Cohen could have written it just for Tom, couldn’t he); Delilah starts as a sparse blues howl before becoming such a Tex-Mex mariachi rocker that I was reaching for a shot of tequila; the wonderful folk song Lazarus Man, originally by Terry Callier; Leave Your Hat On, made most famous by Joe Cocker, here proving that Jones is well beyond cabaret, starting with a blues lick and ending with a drum solo; and the funky A.F. tribute to Prince, Kiss, the two guitarists alternating blues and funk passages seamlessly.

It’s a ninety-minute trip through a myriad of eclectic styles, his whip-crack tight band more than capable of transforming from R&B to jazz to blues to funk to sheer Tom Jones groove, complete with just the right amount of heft in the trouser department. And through it all, that honeyed, golden voice, which remains remarkable, and undiminished by the ravages of time.

The encore is just right: Katell Keineg’s fitting One Hell Of A Life, followed by Sister Rosetta Tharpe’s sensational “rock and roll country blues gospel song with a little boogie on the side,” Strange Things Happening Every Day, and another wonderful anecdote – this time about seeing Chuck Berry in Las Vegas with Elvis, and The King insisting it was Berry who deserved the title ‘The King of Rock and Roll” – before show closer Johnny B Goode.

Jones’ eclectic tastes in the songs he covers highlight his ability as one of the great interpreters of others’ tunes for almost sixty years now. Though he’s slowing down a bit, the opportunity to hear his dulcet, mellifluous vocals – possibly for the last time – was a gift.

And no, before you ask – nobody chucked panties onstage, not even for a joke.

Set List:
I’m Growing Old (Bobby Cole cover)
Not Dark Yet (Bob Dylan cover)
It’s Not Unusual (Les Reed cover)
What’s New Pussycat? (Burt Bacharach/Hal David cover)
The Windmills of Your Mind (Noel Harrison cover)
Sex Bomb
Popstar (Cat Stevens cover)
Green Green Grass of Home (Claude Putman Jr cover)
One More Cup of Coffee (Bob Dylan cover)
Across the Borderline (Ry Cooder cover)
Talking Reality Television Blues (Todd Snider cover)
I Won’t Crumble with You If You Fall (Bernice Johnson Reagon cover)
Tower of Song (Leonard Cohen cover)
Delilah (Les Reed cover)
Lazarus Man (Terry Callier cover)
You Can Leave Your Hat On (Randy Newman cover)
If I Only Knew (Rise Robots Rise cover)
Kiss (Prince cover)

One Hell of a Life (Katell Keineg cover)
Strange Things Happening Every Day (Sister Rosetta Tharpe cover)
Johnny B. Goode (Chuck Berry cover)

Category: Live Reviews, Photo Galleries

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