Wednesday, September 21, 2016

Tom Jones at the Beacon Theatre

Sir Thomas Jones Woodward OBE was born Thomas John Woodward in Glamorgan, South Wales, where he began singing at an early age in his school choir and at family gatherings and weddings. At age 16, Jones married, had a child and worked first in a glove factory and then in construction. While in his 20s, he began a focus on music as the front man in 1963 for Tommy Scott & the Senators, a Welsh beat group. In short time, his manager took him to London, England, and renamed him Tom Jones to exploit the popularity of the Academy Award winning 1963 film. Riding the wave of the British invasion in 1964, Jones' "It's Not Unusual" became an international hit. Over the next 50 years, Jones sold more than 100 million records in a career that has had peaks and valleys. Jones, who was appointed an Officer of the Order of the British Empire (OBE) in 1999, was knighted by Elizabeth II in 2006 at Buckingham Palace for his services to music. His most recent album, Long Lost Suitcase, was released on October 9, 2015.

Over the decades, Jones enjoyed a wide stylistic range, and he brought that with him to the Beacon Theatre tonight. Jones possesses one of the most distinctive voices in contemporary music, and he used that richness equally effectively in blues, country, rhythm and blues, dance and pop songs. Although he has written many songs, his husky, robust baritone was best served as stylist and interpreter, from Burt Bacharach and Hal David's "What's New, Pussycat" to Prince's "Kiss." Jones also rasped and crooned on songs by John Lee Hooker, Odetta, Randy Newman, Leonard Cohen and Sister Rosetta Tharpe. The highlight of the 90-minute set might have been his full-throated, brawny rendering of the 1968 murder ballad "Delilah." While Jones' music largely appeals to an older generation, his muscular vocal performance was absolutely classic.

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