This was a last minute addition before actually going to see Tom. In a lot of ways it was quite unplanned but when the opportunity arose, soon after missing Duran Duran by 24 hours, I seized it with both hands!
An old work colleague, who I hadn’t seen for 5 years, posted on Facebook that she had a spare ticket to see Tom Jones live at Westonbirt Arboretum, where she now works, on the very same weekend we were visiting the Cotswolds. It was the perfect opportunity to meet up with someone I hadn’t seen for a long while and go to a fun outdoor concert. So I messaged her to ask…have you still got the ticket? The answer was yes and I proceeded to get myself ready to see Tom. No, that didn’t mean raiding my knicker drawer!
The day arrived and I drove what I thought would be the short distance from where we had been staying to my friend’s near Tetbury. It turns out the Cotswolds is bigger than I’d realised! It didn’t matter, I was going to see Tom! I arrived late afternoon to preparations for the picnic, decanting drink into plastic bottles (no glass allowed) and lots of food. I had taken my own contribution though it was starting to feel somewhat inadequate. As I had been taken in as guest and promised a bed for the night I offered to drive the short distance to the Arboretum.
Unfortunately, the weather was not on our side. The rain started at about 5pm, by the time we arrived to set up our chairs and picnic there was a steady fall. Thankfully, one of the party had brought along rain proof ponchos and I gladly accepted the offer of one. I now had my coat and the poncho wrapped around my legs. This worked reasonably well, though occasionally a trickle of water made its way from on top of the poncho onto my seat and dampened my jeans. Oh I did hope Tom would be worth it…
The support act came on and she was great but quite folksy. On a wet Sunday evening we really needed something lively to get us going. As a result we stayed in our seats, saying how lovely this music would be if the sun was shining. What felt like an age later, it was finally time for Tom. Still raining, though I have to admit it was easing, our dedication was rewarded. Tom strolled onto the stage and started to sing. I had never seen Tom live before and, of course, he’s not as young as he used to be, so I was slightly wary. I need not have worried, if anything Tom’s voice has got better with age. Our seats were forgotten as we stood and danced (well, sort of moved in a sort of rhythmical way) and sang along with Tom. He was at times saucy, sexy and provocative (and yes the knickers did fly, but not mine!) and at others gospel like.
Tom talked about his wife, so sad that she had passed away so recently, yet here he was performing, very much I understand as she wished. It was a lovely tribute and a great reaction from the crowd. There was a tangible feeling of love and support, and from the way Tom talked I’m sure he felt it too.
The encore was amazing. Tom and the band left the stage and we, the crowd, did what was expected of us to get them back. The band returned first and started to play the James Bond theme. Then Tom sauntered back on, not many people can get away with sauntering onto the stage to the James Bond theme, but if anyone can, then Tom Jones can! It was a great moment and, having already spent over an hour singing, he gave us the most amazing rendition of Thunderball.
Finally we had to go, trudge over the mud back to the car. Thankfully, we were parked where it was easy to exit so didn’t get caught up in long queues to get out. Returning to my temporary new home for the night, a glass of wine and dry underwear were the order of the day!
Who knows how many more live shows Tom Jones will do, I am amongst the privileged who can say I’ve seen him live.