Tom Jones Darlington Arena 29 August 2021

TOM TIXSo I finally made it! My first proper gig for a long, long time. And what a gig. None other than Sir Tom Jones himself. I last saw Tom at Newcastle Arena around 20 years ago with Marie. At that time he was still, at least in my mind, very much a pop star. Now, at 81 years old he has become “a national treasure”, and a veteran pop/soul/R&B star. His voice has deepened and become richer with age and his profile has, if anything, grown; partly due to his appearances on TV talent show The Voice.

Tom has matured gracefully, in my view. No longer the dyed hair, what stood before us a couple of days ago was a man proud of his own legend, his back catalogue and, on his new album, not frightened to explore the songs of his contemporaries, such as Bob Dylan and Cat Stevens and add his own deep, soulful, rich textured voice to transform them into his own unique Tom Jones style.

The venue for the concert was Darlington Arena, housed in what was the old Darlington football ground, built by local businessman (now disgraced) George Reynolds. The venue holds 25,000 people; on the night I would estimate that there was around 10,000 to 15,000 people in attendance; some on the pitch and some up in the stands. I took a taxi for the 45 minute journey to Darlington with my carer, and sister-in-law, Elaine.

The Darlington Arena website announced the concert thus: “Global superstar Tom Jones is set to perform at the Darlington Arena… in what promises to be an unforgettable evening of entertainment. Fans in the North East are certain to be delighted! Tom Jones’ 50+ year career has remarkably gone from strength to strength. Along with sustaining his popularity as a live performer and recording artist for five decades, he garnered at the age of 75, the best reviews of his career for his most recent albums Long Lost Suitcase, Spirit In The Room and Praise & Blame.”

TOM 2We arrived around 7 PM just in time to catch the support acts the Dunhills and Megan McKenna, star of reality TV shows The X Factor and The Only Way Is Essex. Both acts put on a good performance and warmed up the crowd for Sir Tom.

The disabled area was at the front of the terraces, to the side of the pitch. Our position wasn’t great so we moved up a little to get a better view of the stage and the screens. Tom Jones took to the stage around 9 PM, opening with his big hit “What’s New Pussycat?” This was followed by another trip back to the 60s with his first number one hit “It’s Not Unusual”. Great openers, sung with the usual powerful Jones voice. An excellent start to a great concert. What followed was a mixture of covers from his new album and some further trips down memory lane. “Windmills of My Mind” has always been a great favourite of mine and Tom’s treatment of the song didn’t let me down. Similarly, his rendition of Bob Dylan’s “One More Cup of Coffee” was also excellent. Soon we were back in the 60s again and, another favourite, “The Green Green Grass of Home”. It was quite emotional for me, seeing Tom Jones perform the songs again. Similarly, the epic “Delilah” was delivered with power and soul as always. Great.

Now can an 81-year-old sing “Sex Bomb” with any credibility? I thought not, and I really hoped that he would not attempt this song. However, I must admit I was pleasantly surprised. He slowed the song down, and his deep voice somehow made it feel okay. The crowd certainly loved it and everyone in front of us was dancing away.

We were treated to other hits including Randy Newman’s “You Can Keep Your Hat on” and Prince’s “Kiss”. And soon it was over. After one hour 10 minutes Tom Jones left the stage. The reception from the crowd had been rapturous throughout. The people of the north-east certainly enjoyed the visit of Tom Jones. Soon he was back on stage and we were treated to a three song encore, closing with “Strange Things Happening Every Day”. A nice autumnal evening spent in the company of a true living legend.

TOM 1Getting out on the venue was a little bit of an adventure. The officials were not allowing any vehicles into the car parks. This was to enable the park-and-ride buses and people on foot to leave safely. However, it also blocked my taxi from getting in. The taxi was stuck in a massive queue of cars somewhere down the road. With some clever to-ing and fro-ing on our phones we managed to locate him and, once we were out of the long traffic jam we were safely up the A19 and on our way home, arriving safely around midnight.

Setlist: (something like) What’s New Pussycat?; It’s Not Unusual; Popstar (Cat Stevens); The Windmills of Your Mind (Noel Harrison); Green, Green Grass of Home; One More Cup of Coffee (Valley Below) (Bob Dylan); Talking Reality Television Blues; I Won’t Crumble with You If You Fall; Tower of Song (Leonard Cohen); Delilah; Lazarus Man; You Can Leave Your Hat On (Randy Newman); Sex Bomb; If I Only Knew; Kiss (Prince)

Encore: I’m Growing Old; No Hole in My Head; Strange Things Happening Every Day

Many thanks to Elaine for the photographs (she also really enjoyed the concert).

2 responses to this post.

  1. Posted by Les on September 1, 2021 at 1:10 pm

    If Elvis were still with us, he would be taking a big interest in this man’s performances.

    Reply

Leave a Reply

Fill in your details below or click an icon to log in:

WordPress.com Logo

You are commenting using your WordPress.com account. Log Out /  Change )

Google photo

You are commenting using your Google account. Log Out /  Change )

Twitter picture

You are commenting using your Twitter account. Log Out /  Change )

Facebook photo

You are commenting using your Facebook account. Log Out /  Change )

Connecting to %s

%d bloggers like this: