It would be more embarrassing to admit how long I have been a Tom Jones fan if it weren't for the fact that a good number of women who attend his Vegas shows are the age of my children. And speaking of age, how could this man be 70 years old! And who cares? He still rocks the house, not in spite of his age, perhaps because of it. Unlike some music acts who built their success long ago on an album or a big hit song or two and resent having to sing it over and over, Tom treats those hits like beloved children as he belts them out time after time, knowing full well that the we are all revisiting our own memories when he does.
It is always surprising to see how many men attend his Vegas shows and have secured coveted seats in the first three rows of the MGM Grand's Hollywood Theatre with its old school Vegas style cocktail tables. The men sing along just like the women they are with and on last Friday evening, were dancing and whistling and carrying on. I have often wondered if they really enjoy Tom's show or just consider it the best foreplay money can buy.
The women can barely contain themselves in the party section, often popping up to dance wildly. And yes, they still throw panties on the stage which Tom only barely acknowledges these days with a quick wink or a sly roll of the eyes. He makes an attempt to keep order amidst the frenzy but you always know that if he wanted to let all hell break loose, he could at any time. One of the four most enthusiastic front row ladies darted under the curtain as it was coming down at the end of the show and ended up right in front of Tom who seemed startled from what little I could see as they disappeared from sight. Security returned her to her mates in short order as she breathlessly told everyone about her adventure.
I bought a copy of his new stripped down, critically acclaimed album, Praise and Blame, before the show, fully expecting its tracks to be featured in the show. But he chose instead to stick to a well constructed combination of hits such as "Delilah", "She's a Lady", and a beautiful acoustic version of "Green, Green Grass of Home" along with other selections that you may not know but feel you have heard before. He has a real knack for making every song he sings a Tom Jones song, even one so closely associated with its original artist as the Prince hit, "Kiss". What is most surprising is that he still possesses the big voice that is equally at home with an emotional ballad such as "I'll Never Fall In Love Again", a bluesy "You Can Leave Your Hat On", or even that shameful ode to his trademark image entitled "Sex Bomb". Knowing full well that many of his fans are TJ addicts, he reworks the show for each run, making sure he never becomes predictable, even though most would be satisfied just to repeat their previous experience. But reinventing himself is a particular talent and he seems to enjoy it, even in subtle ways. He still has the fire and it still heats up the room.
There is an understanding between Tom and the women at his shows built entirely on their fantasy of a man, a pleasure machine, whose nearly sole purpose is to appreciate them and bring out their wild side, free of all inhibition. Most likely the younger women were introduced to Tom by their mothers who let their daughters see a side of them that only he could arouse. In our house, my mom, my sister and I never missed The Tom Jones Show on television, later making a girls only family pilgrimage to Vegas to see the live show. Tom gets us. Men who love their women should get to one of his shows before its too late and find out what Tom knows that they don't.
My husband and I are homebodies but we keep an eye on the Hollywood Theatre schedule and when Tom comes to town, we make plans. We can't stand Vegas for more than that one night but it's worth the trip. I adore my husband for his willingness to go with me and for his appreciation of Tom as an artist, not just an ageless sex symbol. The two ladies who shared our tiny cocktail table were very late arriving at the show, obviously stressed at whatever delayed them. My husband welcomed them to the table and instructed the waitress to put their drinks on our tab. That's the kind of guy you want to leave a Tom Jones show with. He gets us, too.
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