Tom Jones, Edinburgh Castle, review: Hits played with musical depth and playfulness

 

There are few sometime pop performers who manage to achieve near-complete career renewal as they hit their 70th year, but with 2010’s rich blues odyssey Praise & Blame Tom Jones broke that particular mould.

His previous appearance at one of Edinburgh Castle’s showpiece summer concerts in the amphitheatre normally used for the Military Tattoo was a play-the-hits round of satisfied expectations.

This time - and to the credit of Jones, his well-drilled band and a musical director who deserves huge praise for the whole endeavour – the hits remained thoroughly trotted out, but with musical depth and playfulness which suggested Jones isn’t afraid to push at the boundaries of his fans’ demands.

So his 90 minute set in bright evening sunshine encompassed lounge-jazz readings of Mama Told Me Not to Come and Sexbomb, ‘Delilah’ slowed down to a mariachi waltz and an accordion-led It’s Not Unusual betraying hints of Balkan folk, as well as a French-styled croon through Dylan’s Tomorrow Night.

Less reconstructed were the growling blues of Burning Hell and Howlin’ Wolf’s Evil, this version Jones’ own Jack White-abetted one, while a cover of Leonard Cohen’s Tower of Song accentuated his potency as a powerful interpreter of more masculine classics.

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