(Jerome-Duncan Ford Theatre, Sterling Heights, MI - June 12th, 2004)
Tom Jones became one of the most popular vocalists to emerge from the British Invasion. Since the mid-'60s, Jones has sung nearly every form of popular music - pop, rock, show tunes, country, dance, and techno, he's sung it all. His actual style - a full-throated, robust baritone that had little regard for nuance and subtlety - never changed, he just sang over different backing tracks. On stage, Jones played up his sexual appeal; it didn't matter whether he was in an unbuttoned shirt or a tuxedo, he always radiated a raw sexuality, which earned him a large following of devoted female fans who frequently threw underwear on stage. Jones' following never diminished over the decades; he was able to exploit trends, earning new fans while retaining his core following.
Just prior to his open air show tonight, a Cancer Foundation release 350 butterflies from the audience, but only 30 or so are visibly seen taking to the freedom of the air! The others seem not so sure about the forced release from the sanctuary of their small envelope known as home!
Taking the stage with a huge smile attached to his well-tanned face, Jones kicks off his two-piece set with the Talking Heads cover ’Burning Down The House’ and the raunchy ’Mama (Told Me Not To Come)’.
Backed by ten musicians, all dressed in black save for the one ‘announcer’ and his bright blue shirt, Jones’ own attire consists of a sparkling dark blue ‘Vegas’ shirt and some tidy black pants. ”I would like to say that it’s great to be here in Sterling Heights,” he confesses. ”Is everything alright so far ... good ... just checking”.
Jones classic ’Delilah’ comes to the fore next, accompanied now by some slightly constipated-looking dance moves all performed in slo-motion! He then makes us aware that he has co-written several songs with Wycliffe Jean and goes on to perform two of them: ’Whatever It Takes’ and ’Invitation’. Jones’ voice is still great, still powerful, which is shown more and more with his renditions of songs such as ’I (Who Have Nothing)’ and ’We’ve Got Tonight’.
Armfuls of red roses are continually brought up to Jones throughout his first set, so much so that he quickly becomes overwhelmed: ”Talk amongst yourselves,” he instructs the audience as the well-wishers besiege him. ”We’ve got things to discuss.”. At long last a bra is thrown into his arms: ”I think I know this girl,” he exclaims, sniffing the item! ’She’s A Lady’ is sung next, followed by both ’Venus’ and ’If I Only Knew’ which brings the first set to an end.
Twenty minutes later and to the strains of first Rick James’ ’Superfreak’ and then Ram Jam's ’Black Betty’ Jones begins the final set on a bouncy note. Now wearing a sparkling black shirt, the yellow and red stage lights in become more prominent in this outdoor venue with the sunlight having drifted away minutes ago. ’Rush The Door’ is next before he announces ”This part of the show is dedicated to all the workers and this song is for my father” and sings both ’16 Tons’ and ’Working In A Coalmine’. Taking a seat alone center stage, Jones quietly sings a personal favorite of his, ’What Am I Living For?’, before he pays comment to the late President, Ronald Reagan.
Two Tom Jones hits are sung back to back next in the shape of ’Green Green Grass of Home’ and ’What’s New Pussycat’ - the latter giving the Welsh icon the right to prowl the stage like some previously-caged horny big cat! ’Sex Bomb’ is next and the whole set is brought to a close with the Jones classic ’It’s Not Unusual’ before he’s back out again for the rock ‘n roll tune ’Red Dress’. With the night coming to a close with the Jones party tune ’Kiss’ he bids everyone farewell (”Sterling Heights and Gaz Vikaz ... we love you. God bless you”) and is finally gone for the night.
Photos and Review by Russell A. Trunk