Tom Jones has nothing to prove. He’s that rare thing – a living legend who genuinely deserves the title.
There can’t be many around Britain who haven’t heard of him, from the older generation who remember him first time around to the younger fans that know him as the wise guru on the BBC’s Saturday night talent show The Voice.
He has an almost universal appeal – whether it’s the ‘Mr Showbiz’ persona that made him a global star in the first place, or his duets with contemporary stars on the 1999 Reload album that shot him back into the public eye, or the 2010 Praise And Blame blues and gospel collection that, for many, fulfilled the promise of his trademark gravel-laced voice, few won’t have at least one favourite Tom Jones moment.
There were plenty such moments last night at Edinburgh Castle – from the blistering opening of Burning Hell to the reworked Delilah and It’s Not Unusual.
There was always going to be Green, Green Grass of Home and You Can Leave Your Hat On, but the most striking thing was the sheer quality of his voice from the start of the show to the last notes of the final encore, Kiss.
It almost seems churlish to mention that he’s 74 years old. He still has the vocal range, confidence – and even the hunger – of a 20-something.
Performing, he manages that most unlikely of tricks – a studied, professional precision, coupled with a loose, careless free-spiritedness. There was no doubt who was the boss on stage.
Off-stage, although the crowd ranged in age terms from eight to 80 and was mostly balanced between men and women, the ladies were clearly in charge. Undies were inevitably thrown during Sex Bomb and again often throughout the show.
Jones didn’t rise to the bait but, remaining dignified, he allowed himself the odd giggle as the offending articles were quietly shunted to the side of the stage.
The boy from Pontypridd clearly loves his fans, and they, in turn, were happy to sing, roar and clap along as he did what he was clearly born to do.