Tom Jones at The Olympia Theatre on June 16th 2015
The revered and most gracious Tom Jones returned to Ireland last week. One of the last remaining reminders of a bygone age of crooners, Jones’ presence is always an event.
Being a person quite watchful and suspicious of the various steps taken by reality show judges to revitalize their careers through the examination of contestants on shows like The Voice and X Factor, it can be quite easy to palm off people like Tom Jones as overly desperate to get back into the limelight.
Whether that is the truth or not seems irrelevant after seeing the wonderful Welshman bray and belt from the stage of the Olympia Theatre. But, if you want to get academic about it reference can be made to Jones’ personal fortune – which is substantial to say the least – and provides at least one refutation to the idea that Jones is made in the same mould as Tulisa Contostavlos or Cheryl Fernandez-Versini.
It’s always a thrill to see someone as storied as Jones take to the stage especially given the presumption that there’ll be a bit of banter from him.
He’s been in Dublin enough times to have a few stories about the place. He talks about saying “sláinte” so much that it became ingrained as just another greeting, as well as regaling fans with tales of drinking sessions on the town.
On the other hand the question does hang in the air as to whether Jones has become a Joe Dolan type of figure, belting out show-tunes to a crowd only capable of showing their enjoyment by swaying from side to side.
The strength of Jones’ voice, however, is too much to be bound in by these parameters. There is emotion hiding underneath the guise of entertainer. Beyond his wit there is feeling and memories, both of which he exudes on stage, seemingly completely at his ease in these most natural of surroundings; the curtain, the stage, the crowd.
Jones was quite happy to play to the crowd, providing a healthy fill of classics like Mama Told Me Not To Come and Sex Bomb, both of which were de-shelled of their previous guises and may in fact have become a bit covered in dust over the years, ending up re-packaged in blues and bluster.
Whether you like his music or not, you have to love the passion he brings to his performances. His vocal projection is an example for any musician and he will most likely remain a treasure and an example of someone who genuinely, genuinely loves music.