Tom Jones – Live Review – Scarborough Open Air Theatre

tom jones live review scarborough (2)

By Charlotte Oliver, June 2024

There cannot be many 84-year-olds who are able to draw a crowd fizzing with the anticipation of the 8,000-strong audience at Scarborough’s Open Air Theatre. Perhaps, like me, many of them saw Sir Tom Jones there in 2022 and know what an incredible performance he can deliver. But would this legend of music be able to cast the same spell over us all another two years down the line or is time finally catching up with him? There was only one way to find out.

After an excellent set by Germein, the same cool and bouncy pop group of Australian sisters who supported him on his last visit here, Sir Tom stepped out onto the stage and the crowd were vocal in their appreciation.

Opening with ‘I’m Growing Old ‘from his 2021 album Surrounded by Time seemed almost designed to make us appreciate exactly how old Sir Tom really is, with lyrics such as:

I’m growing dimmer in the eyes
I’m growing fainter in my talk
I’m growing deeper in my sighs
I’m growing slower in my walk

I know that I wasn’t alone in being prompted to wonder how long it might be before he chooses to hang up his tight trousers for good.

A cover of Bob Dylan’s equally reflective ‘Not Dark Yet’ came next, with its sobering refrain, “It’s not dark yet, but it’s gettin’ there”.

Audience members not lucky enough to have attended this tour already may well have been thinking that they were in for a somewhat downbeat evening. Thankfully, however, it was not long before Sir Tom cranked up the pace, the volume and the joy, delivering his very first major hit, ‘It’s Not Unusual’, with the gusto of a man a quarter of his age. The crowd went wild with appreciation, and quite possibly relief.

From then on, the classics came thick and fast. We were treated to such favourites as ‘What’s New Pussycat?’, ‘Sex Bomb’, ‘The Green, Green Grass of Home’ and ‘You Can Leave Your Hat On’, with the audience singing along at every opportunity. Sir Tom’s voice has not lost any of the depth and power that made him a global megastar, and he delivered every song with sincerity and the trademark twinkle in his eye. Inevitably, the occasional pair of knickers was catapulted towards him, and all around, couples danced together to the music that clearly continues to mean so much to them.

tom jones live review scarborough germein

Support act, Germein

“Giant party”

An aspect of Sir Tom’s gigs that makes them so entertaining is the chat that he peppers between each song. During the course of the evening last night, he casually regaled us with anecdotes involving those who he has counted as friends over the years – who also happen to be some of the 20th century’s biggest stars. References to Burt Bacharach, Dusty Springfield, Cat Stevens, and, of course, Elvis, underline just what an extraordinary career he has had, and left us in no doubt as to the stellar company we were in.

The musical highpoint was the last song in his main set, a wonderful tribute to the popstar Prince in the form of Sir Tom’s iconic cover of the classic, ‘Kiss’. This was as funky as ever and a great way to leave the audience chanting for more.

By way of an encore, Sir Tom, whose energy was apparently unaffected by his already nearly one and half hour-set, delivered not two but an extra four songs. We had the bittersweet ‘One Hell of a Life’, ‘Strange Things Happening Every Day’ and then a couple of rock ‘n’ roll classics that had the audience, as well as Sir Tom himself, dancing with delight.’Johnny B Goode’ and ‘Great Balls of Fire’ turned the end of the evening into a giant party, with even the seated audience jumping to their feet to join in.

Nearly two hours after arriving on stage, Sir Tom took his bow, during which he thanked us all wholeheartedly for coming. He then told us that he will be touring the world for years to come. And after that performance, I can quite believe it. Bravo, Sir Tom, and here’s to many more!


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