Sir Tom Jones is 73 years old – but someone clearly forgot to tell him.
On Tuesday 17 September he took to the stage – admittedly, he was 45 minutes late, and looked a little over dressed in a black suit and black long-sleeved t-shirt – and launched into a long set containing hits from his rich and varied back catalogue, plus a few choice songs from the repertoire of others, such as Tom Waits and Otis Reading, too.
Aside from a short and sudden electrical meltdown, with the stage going dark and silent in the middle of a gospel song, Tom took charge of a large and appreciative audience on the beach of the Intercontinental Hotel, Doha, for more than an hour and a half.
Tom has one of the earthiest, most solid, soul voices in the business, and while he may not move as fast as he used to (although that could have been more down to heat and humidity than to age) his vocal power showed no sign of diminishing.
Tom has been doing what he does for five decades, and he knows how to please a crowd, which is essentially by singing his hits. An ever-changing backdrop, often flashing images of the man himself striking moody poses, and a strong performance by his excellent band helped.
All the hits were there – It’s Not Unusual, The Green Green Grass of Home, Sex Bomb, Kiss, What’s New Pussycat? – with the highlight being a heavily latin-tinged rendition of Delilah that built to a rousing crescendo after an acoustic start. Coming straight after the power cut, the chance to sing along was just what the crowd needed.
A couple of times, the attention of the 3000-strong crowd waned – with some of the slower, less-known, paired-down and more recent tracks being better suited to a small club setting than a sweaty beach in Qatar – but overall, Tom proved he’s still at the top of his game, and that, when it wants to, Doha can put on a great show with wide appeal.