It's Not Unusual...

Baby, Tom Jones Can Still Turn Us On

At his Tel Aviv concert on Saturday, the 73-year-old pop legend, polished and flirtatious, shook the stadium without any visible effort.

Welsh pop singer Tom Jones began his concert at Tel Aviv’s Nokia Arena on Saturday night with some of the less familiar songs from his repertoire and gradually worked his way to the songs to which the crowd sang along. But instead of throwing their bras and panties at the music legend, the women at this concert documented the concert with their iPads and iPhones.

The songs at the concert demonstrated the extent to which Jones has been associated with the cover songs he performs, like Eric Burdon & The Animals’ “Mama Told Me Not to Come” and Leonard Cohen’s “Tower of Song,” in which he sang with a sly smile: “I was born like this, I had no choice / I was born with the gift of a golden voice.”

Standing in front of giant screens showing video art meant to look like screen savers, Jones opened the concert with Howlin' Wolf's "Evil (Is Going On)," a song on which he collaborated with Jack White, formerly of The White Stripes.

“Green, Green Grass of Home,” Johnny Darrell’s ballad about the last day in the life of a condemned prisoner, prompted what seemed to be the entire audience to sway from side to side to the country sound Jones brought to the song.

A glowing and red-cheeked Jones joked around a bit with his backup singers, but for the most part saved his flirting tone for the audience. He told the audience that the last time he was in Israel his hair was black, and that was just the beginning of a long line of jokes about his age – he is 73 – though he ended up essentially complimenting himself for looking younger than he is.

In his cover version of Tom Waits’ “Bad As Me,” as in nearly all the songs he sang at the concert, Tom Jones’ years as a performer in Las Vegas shone through: He was polished as well as flirtatious, but all along, his giant deep voice shook the stadium without any visible effort.

“Delilah,” one of Jones’ biggest hits and probably one of the most cheerful murder songs ever written, was performed in a particularly carnivalesque manner at this concert, as Jones pantomimed stabbing his love. One woman in the audience whispered to her husband that this was the first time she had paid attention to the lyrics. “Did you hear what he’s singing?” she asked.

From there on, the hits kept on coming, from the breakout hit “It’s Not Unusual” to Jones’ comeback song from the 1980s, his cover of Prince’s “Kiss.” Toward the end of the performance the most famous hips to come out of Wales did some swerving, like in the old days when this was cause for hysteria among female audience members, as Tom Jones tossed aside his jacket while singing “You Can Leave Your Hat On.”

David Bachar