TOM JONES – LICHFIELD
After a 30 mile detour because of some silly fellas having a push bike race we arrive in Lichfield the new home of Tiny Cow Promotions. The venue is a supersized blue marquee in the middle of a large park. As it promises to be a full day of exciting new and established acts starting at 12:45pm and finishing at 10pm there are plenty of food and drinks on offer to keep you dancing, but with an £18 price tag for two burgers and a couple of pops we won’t be eating much today.
It is not a massive area but it is big enough to split into three sections VIP, gold and standard, which was standing at the back. This made for a rather intimate gig and (of course) I have bagged myself a seating section all of my very own! The ticket prices vary from £55 to £99 depending on where you sit and for the music that was on offer throughout the day you got a good deal for your money also the security staff were very friendly, which is always a bonus!
First up was Matt Bond, always hard to be the first up! He played a selection of old favourites and show tunes and I admit we sang along to Can you feel the Love Tonight, from Lion King while we waited at the bar. Must have been difficult for him as there is only a handful of people here at this point, but they made him feel welcome!
Next up is a young band called Broken Witt Rebels, they sound similar to the Kaiser Chiefs and bring a lot of energy to the stage. I enjoyed their song writing and hope I’ll be seeing them again!
Following these is the predominantly girl group, Paradisia. Didn’t know what to expect when they were setting up when they brought a harp on stage, but they were very enjoyable. The girls had great harmonies and seemed to complement each other as they shared the singing and playing, a lovely harmonious sound. Their cover of Bruce Springsteen’s hit, ‘Dancing in The Dark’ was goose-bumpingly awesome!
Although a hard act to follow, the Marquee is now filling up a bit, everyone has poured more lubrication on their joints.
Joe Crookall arrives, all the way from the Isle of Man! He’s not averse to having a little chat with the crowd before showing us his skills with an acoustic guitar and his own material. As someone who also has family with dementia the song he’s penned for his grandmother entitled, ‘Every Single Day’ makes me chuckle, it’s a beautiful tribute. His voice reminds me a little of a younger Billy Bragg, without the politics, definitely a name to look out for.
Jodie Abacus is on next, and boy did they ramp up the volume, I spent the first 30 seconds of the first song listening to whistling as he took the front rows’ hearing aids out, bless them they didn’t know what the hell had hit them! Jodie Abacus is a funky soul group with a bit reggae thrown in for good measure!
On a wander round the marquee I find the ale is flowing more freely at the back and the prosecco and wellie’s are all the rage the nearer the front you get! And the very front have lovely shampoo and sets, presumably in case the big man himself should notice them? There is a huge cheer that ripples like a pebble in a lake all the way to the standing room only pen at the back and Tony Christie has arrived!
He opens with ‘Avenues and Alleyways’, this is what this crown have come to see! They’re up on their feet, the top layer of the twinset is coming off and there are mobility scooters rocking like cars up lovers’ lane. This audience has decided they’re ready to party. Tony Christie can still belt a tune out and has an amazing voice. Christie takes us through his hits and finishes his set with his version of the song made famous by Andy Williams and written by Neil Sedaka, ‘Solitaire’, which, incidentally, Christy recorded first. What? No Amarillo…oh wait…he’s back for the encore, we’re up again marching and asking the way to Amarillo, (also written by Neil Sedaka).
How do you follow that? Well ‘Cast’ are up next and they do a great job! The rain is coming in sideways so the Marquee is full, and round the edges are becoming swamp like so this encourages everyone in to the middle for a dance! Cast entertain us for the next hour magnificently from old favourites such as ‘Walk Away’ taking us up to date with an airing of their new single, ‘Do That’.
Following Cast are ‘The Pigeon Detectives’, the Leeds based rock band know how to own the stage, Matt Bowman is like a man possessed he is all over the stage, on the drum kit hanging off the amps on the floor and in the air, he’s amazing to watch, like a Jack-In-The-Box! It truly is a wonder that he didn’t take a band member out swinging his microphone around! They really have taken the energy levels all the way to the top but I rather feel they were wasted on this crowd! I was happily entertained for the time they were on and they certainly warmed me up for the main man, the sex bomb himself…
Ladies and Gentlemen be upstanding the legend that is Sir Tom Jones has arrived. This man’s stage presence is unbelievable. He commands you to listen to him, I think he had us all hypnotised the second he opened his mouth! This being the first time I’d seen him live I was a bit scared about his reputation for being a knicker magnet! I’m thinking if this lot start taking their kecks off we’re off, they could’ve taken security out with some of this crowd’s unmentionables!
My favourite track of the evening has got to be a sensual and slowed down version of Sex Bomb, my word, I am in awe, I’ve managed to squeeze myself on the front row a mere 3 feet from the man himself, I can smell the testosterone from here! He does an hour and a half set treating us to some old favourites like ‘Mama told me not to come’, ‘Delilah’, (with full audience participation), It’s Not unusual, Kiss, You can Leave Your Hat on and ‘Green, Green Grass of Home’.
Sir Tom shows us his raw emotion in the song dedicated to his wife, which he explains beforehand is from his new album, ‘Long Lost Suitcase’ and a track that his late wife, Melinda Woodward, (no Jones is not his real name) has said was her favourite from the album, the emotion he sings with is immense, I’ve never seen anything like it and I’m glad as I look around that I am not the only one in tears even the man himself has a tear or two rolling down his face! This is closely followed by ‘Elvis Presley Blues’ written by Gillian Welch, which Jones again sings with his heart and soul and you can see why Pricilla Presley has told him it is a haunting tribute to her late husband and we’re in tears again!
Never have I heard a song sung like this, the audience is moved right along with him it’s no wonder he’s been in the business over 50 years, he’s a God amongst men, a true showman, a survivor, a legend!!!
Words by Adele Sutcliffe Photos by Philip Goddard