BEING THERE: Tom Jones @ The TLA


Less than hours 24 hours after wowing fans at the WXPN-hosted Non-Commvention at World Cafe Live on Thursday night, Sir Tom Jones was at back behind the mic for a sold out “Evening With Tom Jones” show at the TLA. The 72-year-old legend, with the one-of-a-king baritone voice, treated Philadelphians to an intimate set of deep-cut covers — John Lee Hooker, Bob Dylan, Jerry Lee Lewis — from his last two records: 2010’s Praise And Blame and the just-released Spirit In The Room. The new album is a Johnny Cash/Rick Rubin-style cover album collaboration with Kings of Leon producer Ethan Johns.  Jones kicked off Friday’s set with Spirit’s opening track, Leonard Cohen’s “Tower of Song.” Jones’ raucous, irreverent take on the introspective song set the mood for the majority of set-list, which to some fans’ disappointment was sans Jones’s greatest hits.  One fan threw a pair of red panties that made it to the front of the stage, but it wasn’t that kind of show.  Jones dodged the undergarments, and a roadie scooped them away, without mention. Message: Not tonight. Sir Tom also dealt with a microphone malfunction seven songs into his set, “You might want to get some tape for this thing,” he said with wry smile. The microphone was fixed, and the silver-haired legend went back to business, covering Richard Thompson’s “Dimming of the Day, Paul McCartney’s “(I Want To) Come Home” and the best song of the night, Mickey Newbury’s “Just Dropped In (To See What Condition My Condition Is In).” Sir Tom is of course best-known as the booming baritoned lounge lizard king belting out just-shy-of-Vegas-kitsch classics like “What’s New Pussy Cat,” “Delilah and “It’s Not Unusual,” but it’s easy to understand why Jones left those songs at home.  Those songs don’t mix with the Johnny Cash-like gravitas of the new direction — a direction that very much suits Sir Tom in this the autumn of his life.— RORY MCGLASSON