Joan from Northern Ireland was showing off her heart-monitoring wristband to her friends as John Blek and the Rats warmed up the crowd for Tom Jones.
“See, it’s at 82 now, that’s pretty good,” she said, “but wait until Tom comes on stage. I’ll be checking it then!”
It was seating room only at Live at the Marquee last night, and nearly a full house too, with plenty of couples who must have been contemporaries of the 76-year-old crooner out for a trip down memory lane, mingling with younger fans who discovered Jones in his come-back era in the early 2000s, when he recorded with fellow Welsh artists such as Stereophonics and Cerys Matthews.
There was a distinct bias towards women in amongst the audience, though, testament to the long-standing sex appeal of the star.
There were husbands, and the occasional dedicated male fan: Mark drove all the way from Newry in Co Down for his 13th Tom Jones gig.
“I’ve been a fan for as long as I can remember,” he said. “He’s just a consummate showman.”
Jones, tanned and fit-looking and clad in a dapper check jacket and tight jeans, was relaxed and chatty, joking with the crowd that his in-ear monitor wasn’t a hearing aid and professing himself delighted to be back in Cork in between knocking out a combination of hits such ‘Delilah’ and gospel and blues songs that brought him back to his early days singing in working men’s clubs in Welsh mining towns.
“I used to listen to my good friend Elvis sing this,” he said, introducing a stunning rendition of gospel number ‘Run On’. But it was his slow, sultry lead in to ‘Sex Bomb’ that finally got the female audience members to their feet and dancing, and after that the hits came thick and fast. ‘Leave Your Hat On’ led to an outbreak of raunchy dancing from the delighted crowd that had to be seen to be believed.
The aisles were manned with staff and security, on hand to fox any knicker-throwing attempts by ladies overwhelmed by the power of ‘The Voice’.
Supported by a slick nine-piece band with a full brass section, and buoyed up by the screams of his female fans, Jones seemed to have the energy to keep playing all night, and rumour had it that his band would do exactly that, with a plan to swing by the Crane Lane Theatre following their Marquee set to play another gig.
© Irish Examiner Ltd. All rights reserved