untung99.biz: Tom Jones takes on aging gracefully at New Brunswick show

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It was an unusual, but thoroughly entertaining, concert from Tom Jones May 22 at the State Theatre in New Brunswick.

The legendary singer, who stars these days on the British version of “The Voice,” performed new material from his latest album, “Surrounded by Time,” and rearranged versions of his classics — including “It’s Not Unusual.” Instead of punchy pop, this time it was an alluring acoustic Bossa Nova vibe with a conga drum intro for his 1965 hit.

Jones and his five-member band explored new areas of his trademark songs at the show, part of his Ages and Stages Tour. There wasn’t a horn section, but there were a few instruments in the mix, including an electric upright bass that brought some new shadings to the music.

“Delilah” took on a darker, more rock ’n’ roll tone with a prominent Duane Eddy style lead guitar powering the tune.

There was also an element of social commentary in the show. The Ry Cooder cover “Across the Borderline” evoked sympathy for immigrants coming to America on the southern border, and “Talking Reality Television Blues” took a pointed swipe at Donald Trump without mentioning the former president by name:

Then a show called ‘The Apprentice’ came on and pretty soonAn old man with a comb-over had sold us the moonWe stayed tuned in, now here we areReality killed by a reality star.”

Jones is edgy at 82, and he still has his big baritone voice. He also can still send his fans into a tizzy. A spoken-word into for his 1999 hit “Sexbomb” had the audience rustling, murmuring and sitting on their edge of their seats.

Age isn’t slowing Jones down, even if he did spend much of the concert sitting on a stool. Jones has embraced growing older, and, in a sense, celebrates it. The show began with the poignant “I’m Growing Old,” while “One Hell of a Life,” in which he asked that we not philosophize him because he’s had “one hell of a life,” was performed during the encore.

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Don’t get it wrong, it wasn’t a farewell. It’s Jones in a new, artistically invigorating chapter of his career.

Jones next plays Thursday, May 25, at the Beacon Theater in New York City. Visit tomjones.com for more information.

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Chris Jordan, a Jersey Shore native, covers entertainment and features for the USA Today Network New Jersey. Contact him at @chrisfhjordan; cjordan@app.com