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Flying Panty Attack

Tom Jones
What's New Soul Man?: Tom Jones never stops.

When Tom Jones sings, ladies fling

By Todd S. Inoue

I've got a confession to make; I like Tom Jones. There are limits to how much of my personal laundry I'll air. There's stupid for stupid's sake, like Hanson, KSFO or even Star Trek. They're ironic pleasures I keep mostly hidden.

Tom Jones is different. The name alone elicits thoughts of Las Vegas bombast and seeing your dad dance. What I love about Tom is that he has a laugh at the behest of his wonderful, overwrought persona. It's a shtick that's followed him around since "What's New Pussycat?" and lasted all the way to his gag cameo as himself in Mars Attacks! Look up "chutzpah," and there he is with shirt open, gold chains dangling.

Most of all, the man can sing the hell out of a tune. His June 29 show at Villa Montalvo broke down many stereotypes about him while reinforcing a few important tawdry ones.

"We're going to play songs I made in the '60s," Jones said to the crowd's approval, "back when I was 12 years old."

Tom's a consummate pro, a crowd pleaser. He shifts from wailing wall of woe to guttural croak in a split. He knows his voice so well, he performed the entire show without a monitor or an ear piece. He knows he ain't the funkiest man alive, but he gave the people what they wanted: crowd-moving versions of hits ("Delilah," "Green, Green Grass of Home," "What's New Pussycat?") spread generously with covers ("Kiss," "Hard to Handle"). Another moment to savor: Tom bathed in red light, reciting a litany of reasons to stay in love during "I Will Love You." Bone-chilling.


Pay homage to the man himself.

Strictly for pussycats with lots of links to all things Tom.


Doing Right by Us

Cultural buzzkeepers beware: Tom has a new album coming out on Interscope this fall. He test-drove a new country tune--"He Stopped Loving Her Today"--and some '90s ersatz material: "You Put the Hurt on Me," "Trick or Treat" and "Do Right by Me." The new stuff is OK to break out at dinner parties but clearly lacks the punch of earlier tunes, which the mix of hipsters and matronly Saratogans were clamoring for.

Women love this guy! If you listen to old live recordings of his Vegas shows, you'll notice that crowd interruptions are commonplace. The grand vista of Villa Montalvo kept stagehands stress-free until two or three women bumrushed the stage. After "What's New Pussycat?" a woman offered him a hankie to wipe his brow. Tom wiped his brow, face and chest then handed the gamy rag back to her. I'd hate to see what he does at the sushi bar with the oshibori baths.

The show stopper was Joe Tex's "I Gotcha." Soul fans know this song is ultrafunky, with a transcendental scat by Tex. Jones did his best to replicate it without sounding too much like William Shatner.

Three panties got airborne after the '70s hit "She's a Lady." More tumbled on stage after an over-the-top cover of Lenny Kravitz's "Are You Gonna Go My Way?"

"Kiss" ended the show in chaos, with the crowd was on its feet, flowers and panties littering the stage, roadies intercepting hysterical women from all directions. All Tom could do was bow graciously, and bow he did.

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