Review: Tom Jones, Scarborough Open Air Theatre

Tom Jones plays to a capacity crowd at Scarborough's Open Air Theatre
Tom Jones plays to a capacity crowd at Scarborough's Open Air Theatre

Legend is an over-worked word. Long, long ago it took someone to slay a fire-eating dragon with nothing more than a wooden lance before they earned the title.

Now it is much easier – take the headliners at the Open Air Theatre this weekend. They include Rick Astley, ABC, Go West and Sinitta, all billed under the title of Pop Legends 80s. I don’t think so.

But Sir Tom Jones ... now there is a pop legend. With Sir Cliff Richard, Dame Shirley Bassey, Petula Clark (why isn’t she a dame?), he is one of pop’s greats.

The Voice has introduced him to a younger audience but from It’s Not Unsual through Thunderball to Sex Bomb he has always been part of pop culture.

He is now held in great affection – 6,000 people turned out to see him. It was probably the esteem in which he is held which made us forgive him for being merely good rather than fabulous.

There were the hits but not quite as we know them. It’s not Unusual had a jazz twist and Sex Bomb was turned into a swing standard. Delilah became a soft knock on the door rather than a fist-pounding, eardrum shatterer.

Kiss and You Can Leave Your Hat On lifted the mood , Green Green Grass of Home was a crowd-pleaser, the cheesy Fall in Love was great and Thunderball laden with nostalgia for the non-PC days of 007 and bikini-clad Bond girls.

The hit parade was interspersed with songs from his Praise and Blame album and an upcoming release – which had gospel and blues notes.

The voice is still fabulous – fanatistic vocal range with that unique gravelly overtone, like pebbles being crunched by a JCB. Astounding and outstanding.

Between songs he did not have much to say – though endeared himself to the crowd with a few bars of Scarborough fair and banter about the lake in front of the stage.

May be becoming a peer of the realm has brought more dignity – he steadfastly ignored the knicker-waving fans in the front rows. None were thrown, however.

He does have sex appeal but he’s more silver fox than snake-hipped these days.

There was no big on-yer-feet, clap and sing-along finale or fireworks, literally or metaphorically.

And what about What’s New Pussycat? It wasn’t in there.

Oh yeah! Oh yeah! shouted Tom between songs.

Oh no! Tom, the set was not complete without What’s New Pussycat?

By Sue Wilkinson