Tom Jones at House of Blues, 5/4/2014
Photos by Jim Bricker
House of Blues
May 4, 2014
If, as Lord Nelson once remarked, our reputation precedes us, then Tom Jones' rep must enter the room a couple hours in advance. It would at least partially explain the 90 minute wait time between the doors opening at the House of Blues and his eventual entrance.
What gets lost in all the tales of tossed undergarments, tight pants, and famous flings is the fact that Jones really is one hell of a singer. After a brief career downturn in the late 70s/early 80s, has been a steady touring presence, and if Sunday night's stop at the HOB was any indication, the 74-year old has no intention of slowing down.
Judging by the number of panties tossed on (or near) the stage, that's probably a good thing.
I should also note I'm forcing myself not to make any "it's not unusual" puns for the entirety of this review. You're welcome.
This show stood out from many I've seen in several respects, not the least of which was the age of the crowd. I've been attending and/or reviewing concerts now since I was 14, and this has to be the first I've seen that had not one but *two* ADA seating sections. Several in the audience used walkers, and I saw at least two with portable oxygen tanks.
Which is why the announcement that doors would open at 7, but Jones wouldn't go on until "about 9" was a bit of a surprise. Plenty of folks looked like they'd have a hard time staying upright for an extended period of time, but they [mostly] proved me wrong. Such is the power of Jones' powerful baritone and the HOB's plentiful libations.
Not to mention all the Viagra, which no doubt helpfully opened up the blood vessels to the legs and feet.
Jones emerged at 8:30, clad in black, his now white hair a nimbus back lit by stage lights. He opened with a relatively mellow number, a cover of Leonard Cohen's "Tower of Song." a tune testifying to the the role music has played in Jones' life (he famously spent two years in bed recuperating from TB, with little to do but listen to records and the radio).
Jones is touring in support of his latest release, Spirit in the Room, an album of covers ranging across the entire musical spectrum. Odetta's "Hit or Miss" from the album came next, while others covered in the set included Blind Willie Johnson ("Soul of a Man"), Jerry Lee Lewis (closing number "End of the Road"), and Richard and Linda Thompson ("Dimming of the Day"), with Jones giving each of these a uniquely soulful rendering
And "soul" was what it appeared a lot of the Real Housewives of League City weren't expecting. "It's Not Unusual," arguably Jones' most famous cut, was the 18th song he sang, and came with a muted intro (Jones' four-piece backing act lacked a horn section) that caught many off guard. Before that, we heard other Spirit tracks such as Tom Waits' "Bad as Me," which Jones introduced by praising Waits' songwriting skills. This almost felt like an apology to the audience for the song's bawdy lyrical content.