Tom Jones: Ages & Stages Tour, Margaret Court Arena, Melbourne, March 28th 2024 – Live Review

Sir Thomas Jones Woodward OBE otherwise known as Tom Jones is a musician that I grew up listening to. His music was frequently sourced on my parents’ karaoke machine whenever they felt like singing with accompaniment or had their house parties. Some of his songs were my dad’s favourites to sing to. While I haven’t attended karaoke in years, Tom Jones’ songs have been under regular rotation on my family’s record player, my CD player, and now my streaming playlist.

Revisiting Melbourne for the first time since 2016, Tom Jones made his long awaited return to our fair city at Margaret Court Arena for his Ages & Stages Tour. While I am fortunate enough to have witnessed Tom Jones live back at the 2014 AFL Grand Final post-match free concert, I had never actually seen Tom Jones in a headline show. So, when his Melbourne concert was announced, I just knew I had to be there.

The Ages & Stages Tour takes his generations of fans through his brilliant career, with many interesting stories along the way in between songs. In fact, Jones had wonderful introductions and stories for all his numbers, sharing on his achievements and adventures which were so fascinating to listen to. My favourite tale was when Jones happily reminisced of his time bonding with Elvis Presley when they went out to see Chuck Berry perform live in Las Vegas.

Production wise, the Ages & Stages Tour looked impressive with excellent lighting and a large screen that displayed Jones for majority of the concert. There are many concerts I’ve attended where the screen doesn’t display the artist but simply visual effects which is not great for those seated further away. But thankfully, this wasn’t the case with Jones’ show.  It didn’t matter where you were seated, you could clearly see Tom Jones in all his glory and hear his booming voice which smoothly soared throughout the Melbourne venue. The artist was accompanied by a 5-piece band which included his musical director Gary Wallace, and together, Tom Jones and his band provided revamps of his iconic songs.

Revamped classics included, ‘It’s Not Unusual’ with its own salsa music spin, ‘What’s New Pussycat?’ which made me feel like I was transported to France for a moment, a rockabilly version of ‘Sex Bomb’, and the dramatic ‘Delilah’ which sounded like a healthy mix of Mexican mariachi inspired music infused with rock music. It was all really cool and very refreshing for these songs that Jones (minus ‘Sex Bomb’, his original) has made his own.

Despite this, credit was always given where it was due, Tom Jones proactively stated before every song who originated or composed it before he would sing it. I loved this because although Jones is very proud of his accomplishments (as he should be) and is unashamed about his age (clearly from the tour title), Tom Jones has remained very personable, grateful, cheeky, and extremely humble. He consistently checked on his audience to make sure that patrons were alright and having fun. After every song performed, he would also take a gracious bow to his loving Melbourne audience.

Standing and gleefully swaying to his catchier numbers, even getting the crowd to participate by singing along and clapping their hands together, it was just as easy for Jones to slow the mood down for the ballads, sometimes taking the time to sit, so that he could focus on showcasing the extent of his powerful vocals that we’ve all grown to love and admire. This was particularly evident with the ever appropriate first song of the night ‘I’m Growing Old’, the breathtaking rendition of ‘I Won’t Crumble with You If You Fall’, and the witty ‘Lazarus Man’.

My favourite tune of the night was when Tom Jones performed ‘Green Grass of Home’. Played just the way I remembered it; this beautiful song was one of my late father’s favourites and hearing it live almost moved me to tears. It was a sentimental moment and a kind reminder of just how embraced my life, as well as many others, have been by Tom Jones’ wonderful voice and music.

Not just when he sung but when he spoke too, despite being in an arena, Tom Jones’ concert felt intimate. It was like being reunited with an old family friend. Whenever patrons would shout that they loved him, he would immediately reply with “I love you too”. Jones never hesitated to make fun of his age too and openly displayed his silly sense of humour, cheekily explaining to his knowing audience what record players are, which gained many chuckles.

Tom Jones had pockets of fans energetically dancing but respectfully not blocking other patrons towards the end of the night to ‘If I Only Knew’, Randy Newman’s ‘You Can Leave Your Hat On’, and a funky cover of Prince’s ‘Kiss’. By the time he performed the finale, Chuck Berry’s ‘Johnny B. Goode’, I too was on my feet and dancing.

Tom JonesAges & Stages Tour is a celebration of music and life from this living legend that deserves every success and happiness. It was truly an honour seeing him in his element. Affectionately advising he hoped to see us again and bidding his audience, “Goodnight and god bless you all”, I found myself enamoured and really hoping we do see Tom Jones in Melbourne again.

Clearly still the coolest cat in the neighbourhood, it’s hard to believe that Tom Jones, at the tender age of almost 84, sounds the same. If anything, he’s even better than he ever was because of his lifetime of knowledge and experience which has made him the music titan he is today. The fact that he’s still touring the world is truly a gift for the rest of us.

Proudly presented by Live Nation Australia, Tom Jones performed at this sold out concert in Melbourne as part of his Ages & Stages Tour on Thursday the 28th of March at Margaret Court Arena. Tom Jones’ next Ages & Stages Tour concert will be in Newcastle at Newcastle Entertainment Centre on April 2nd before heading to the ICC Sydney Theatre in Sydney on April 4th 2024. He is also a headliner at this year’s Bluesfest in Byron Bay this Easter.

For more information and ticketing, visit:
https://www.livenation.com.au/artist-tom-jones-1152
https://www.tomjones.com

Photography by Grant Alexander.

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