Tom Jones – Live Review – The Piece Hall, Halifax
By Steve Crabtree, July 2022
Well, we’ve had a few legends in our town of late. They’ve all been down at The Piece Hall in Halifax, and you’ll have been living under a rock if you’re from round our way and haven’t heard about them.
The final gig at this summer’s Piece Hall season was none other than Sir Tom Jones. A man who’s been making music for as long as most people can remember, and then some. For Halifax, to have someone like him performing in the town, almost seemed like a privilege. A privilege I was pleased to be part of.
“A musical hero’s welcome”
I did have this gig down to be one that was going to be a light-hearted affair. A “Oh, Tom Jones, that’ll be a bit of a fun-fest” if you like. How wrong could I have been? I really should have learned my lesson from when I went to see Cliff Richard three years ago.
Sir Tom Jones is still making new music, and it’s bona-fide good music too. His newest album Surrounded By Time is a decent piece of work of covers, and a world away from a time where he’d be gyrating his buttocks in tight leather trousers to adorning ladies. It’s the record he’s touring at the moment, with his concerts strategically placing the crowd-pleasing Tom Jones classics in and amongst some of these newer tracks.
A sell-out, once again at The Piece Hall, we were gathered in the forecourt with thousands of others as Jones, now 82 wandered on to the stage at around 8pm. Limping slightly from a pinched nerve, the crowd gave him a well-deserved musical hero’s welcome. To look at him, you’d think he was 15 years younger. And to listen to him, you’d think he was maybe half his age. All this, despite opening up with ‘I’m Growing Old’.
And that opener focused right in on his voice. I’m sure I’m not alone in standing there for a moment and just thinking ‘wow’. You were in the presence of someone who is vocally very special in the world of music. And we were in for around 20 songs worth of this baritone-esque sound.
Another new one to me ‘Not Dark Yet’ followed, before a less boppy version of ‘It’s Not Unusual’ came out high up the set-list. It wasn’t long before ‘Delilah’ followed, and that was delivered with a Parisienne feel thanks to an accompanied accordion. A couple of variations that I don’t think many were expecting, but certainly worked out here in the sunshine.
I enjoyed Jones’ version of Todd Sneider’s ‘Talking Reality Television Blues’ – perhaps an ironic choice for a judge from The Voice to cover. And Bob Dylan’s ‘One More Cup Of Coffee’ was amazing. Tom Jones has still got an amazing set of pipes, and his vocal performance tonight in Halifax was exceptional.
In between his songs, he was in great form too. He knows how to work a crowd, either by telling a story, or just doing that ‘growl’ that he’s done many times over the years. The sun kept catching his eyes from time to time, so the shades were on and off throughout the show. Even for a man in his 80s, he looked cool with them on, and cool with them off.
Sadly, I’m not sure if there was one pair of knickers thrown at Tom Jones this evening. Maybe his followers are a bit older and wiser nowadays. But he certainly put on a fantastic show, and reminded Halifax why Tom Jones has been so huge for almost 60 years.
Of course, he included his career-spanning hits throughout. ‘Green, Green Grass Of Home’ saw a couple of Wales flags come out in the crowd. ‘Sex Bomb’ and ‘What’s New Pussycat?’ had us all singing along. ‘Kiss’ and ‘If I Only Knew’ had us dancing, and ‘You Can Leave Your Hat On’ went down a treat.
Nearly two hours later, he left the stage with the fans demanding more. And he was always going to oblige. He began a three-song encore with 2021 release ‘One Hell Of A Life’. A gritty, and personal reflection on himself – someone who was mates with Elvis, lived wherever he wanted to, sold millions of records and won a countless number of awards. Maybe an admission that he’s in the latter stages of life, and he accepts that…it was a profound way to start the end of his show.
And what a show. What a night. And what a name to close a fantastic Live At The Piece Hall season for 2022. Well done, Sir Tom. And my sincerest of apologies for thinking that your show might be a less serious affair than the one I came to and massively enjoyed.
images: Cuffe & Taylor / The Piece Hall Trust