Tom Jones Delivers His Own Eulogy For Stunning 'Ages & Stages' Tour Melbourne 2024 - Noise11.com
Tom Jones in Melbourne 27 March 2024 photo by Winston Robinson

Tom Jones in Melbourne 27 March 2024 photo by Winston Robinson

Tom Jones Delivers His Own Eulogy For Stunning ‘Ages & Stages’ Tour Melbourne 2024

by Paul Cashmere on April 1, 2024

in News

Tom Jones was sharing way more than just his songs with his Melbourne audience this week. If you have listened to any of Tom’s albums since ‘Praise & Blame’ in 2010 you already know Tom has reached a different plane to where he was as “Pop Star” Tom in the 60s, and “reinvented” Tom in the 90s.

On the surface, this setlist looks like it is full of holes. I’m sure many of the old fans left wondering what all that new stuff was all about when a lot of the old stuff was missing. This show felt like Tom was delivering his own Eulogy. And let me tell you why that was brilliant …

Tom is clearly at a stage in life when you realise there is less ahead than there is behind. Tom is using the stage to express his wisdom by instead of singing his history, he is telling his history in the words of others (like Cat Stevens, Bob Dylan, Ry Cooder, Leonard Cohen, Terry Callier and Todd Snider).

The choice of the songs drilling into the lyrics was masterful. This was a theatrical choice. Tom was giving away more of himself in the songs of others than I’m sure most in the audience even realised.

Cat Stevens ‘Pop Star’ talks about the very start of what Tom went through, about wanting to be a pop star, going on TV, the first gig, making the money (and he used he song of a friend to tell that tale). Ry Cooder’s ‘Across the Universe’ may seem a strange choice for Sir Tom, but check the continuity after performing ‘Pop Star’, then showcasing the fame with ‘Green, Green Grass of Home’ (the centre of Tom’s popdom), into Ry’s potent words:

There’s a place where I’ve been told
Every street is paved with gold
And it’s just across the borderline
And when it’s time to take your turn
Here’s a lesson that you must learn
You could lose more than you’ll ever hope to find

And the story unfolds …

Dylan’s ‘One More Cup of Coffee’ brings Tom to today and the realisation that the end if closer to the start…

One more cup of coffee for the road
One more cup of coffee ’fore I go
To the valley below

To the warning about today and in particular, America 2024 in ‘Talking Reality Television Blues’:

As we hurdled ever forward towards alternative facts
Then a show called “The apprentice” came on and pretty soon
An old man with a comb-over had sold us the moon
We stayed tuned in, now here we are
Reality killed by a reality star

The depth of this show is stunning. We were in the Temple of Tom, wise old Tom. To Leonard Cohen’s ‘Tower of Song”:

Well, my friends are gone and my hair is grey
I ache in the places where I used to play

This setlist was no accident. Right from the first song Tom told us:

I’m growing wise
I’m growing, yes
I’m growing old

That was followed by the first of two Dylan tracks in this show. ‘Not Dark Yet’ says:

Shadows are falling and I’ve been here all day
It’s too hot to sleep, time is running away
Feel like my soul has turned into steel
I’ve still got the scars that the sun didn’t heal
There’s not even room enough to be anywhere
It’s not dark yet, but it’s getting there

Tom is both commentator and performer. ‘Its Not Unusual’ and ‘Whats New Pussycat’ then quickly frame the start of the story. ‘Sex Bomb’ went before ‘Pop Star’… this was a beautifully curated show. The hits are woven through the show but they are darker, they are soulful. The horror and drama on the lyrics of ‘Delilah’, a story about a vicious murder we all danced and sang along to into in the day, a presented visually in all their gory glory.

I’m guessing in was no coincidence Terry Callier’s ‘Lazarus Man’ came after ‘Delilah’ and before Tom’s reinvention era of the 80s and 90s, with ‘You Can Leave Your Hat On’, ‘If I Only Knew’ and ‘Kiss’. ‘Lazarus Man’ alludes to the times inbetween the fame when Tom figuratively was “dead to us”. When he was having hits, when he was playing in clubs. But he came back with ‘Kiss’ in the 80s and he came back with his version of Randy Newman’s ‘You Can Leave Your Hat On’ in ‘The Full Monty’ and ‘The Lead and How To Swing It’ in the 90s. But for 15 years from 1972 to 1987 Tom was Lazarus on the charts.

Yeah, somebody was saying “Hey, Lazarus arise!”
So I sat up and opened my eyes
You know I wanted to dance but I didn’t have no room
I threw off the sheets and walked out of my tomb

There was so must knowledge in the songs that I haven’t even gotten to the stories Sir Tom told between the songs. His last story was about when he and Elvis both had residencies at the same time in Las Vegas. Once night after they finished their shows, they decided to go and see the real King of Rock and Roll (as Tom said Elvis called him), Chuck Berry. It was into ‘Johnny B. Goode’, and then it was over.

Tom is 83 years old. He had the energy of someone half his age and he did say he will be back. This was no farewell tour … but if it turns out that way, then this was the best I have ever seen him (and I have seen him a lot over the decades).

Tom Jones setlist, Melbourne, 27 March 2024

I’m Growing Old (from Surrounded In Time, 2021)
Not Dark Yet (from Surrounded In Time, 2021)
It’s Not Unusual (from Along Came Jones, 1965)
What’s New Pussycat? (from What’s New Pussycat, 1965)
The Windmills of Your Mind (from Surrounded In Time, 2021)
Sex Bomb (from Reload, 1999)
Pop Star (from Surrounded In Time, 2021)
Green Grass of Home (from Green, Green Grass of Home, 1967)
Across the Borderline (Ry Cooder cover)
One More Cup of Coffee (from Surrounded In Time, 2021)
Talking Reality Television Blues (from Surrounded In Time, 2021)
I Won’t Crumble with You If You Fall (from Surrounded In Time, 2021)
Tower of Song (from Spirit In The Room, 2012)
Delilah (from Delilah, 1968)
Lazarus Man (from Surrounded In Time, 2021)
You Can Leave Your Hat On (from the Full Monty soundtrack, 1997)
If I Only Knew (from The Lead and How To Swing It, 1995)
Kiss (single with Art of Noise, 1988)

Encore:
One Hell of a Life (from Surrounded In Time, 2021)
Strange Things Happening Every Day (from Praise & Blame, 2010)
Johnny Be Goode (Chuck Berry cover)

Tom Jones will perform in Newcastle on 2 April and finish. in Sydney on 4 April.

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