Tom Jones is a legend in music terms. From humble Welsh roots to the biggest stages his career spans the decades and still does. Elvis would come and see his shows in Las Vegas in order to check out the new sensation and the hits just kept on coming. But was this an overnight success? The story can now be told as Cardiff writer Mike James saw this as a musical drama. So the action starts in 1955 with a young Tommy Woodward occasionally singing in the pubs and clubs of Pontypridd before jacking his job in to pursue the dream of showbiz fame with the underlying theme That Lucky Old Sun. We now see through action and song that this was a long trip and so many knock backs as local success with his band The Senators was a slow burn in Miners’ Institutes not being ready for Americanised R&B. They did win audiences though and this led to auditions with Joe Meek and a deal with Gordon Mills but a move to London was not immediately fruitful. Concurrently we see the family life for Tom and his family and we know now – he was no angel. Kit Orton brilliantly captures the raw early life and the emerging superstar. He has studied the Tom Jones moves and reminds us of how this sexual energy on a live stage was an essential element to the image. The voice too matches the class of Sir Tom whether in the club covers like Land Of 1000 Dances or the song he was born to perform It’s Not Unusual. That was the breakthrough and the No1 hit and the show should conclude right there. While the audience were still on their feet we got a medley of hits like Delilah and Sex Bomb to close the show and all played live by the on stage band. It was here that Elin Phillips moved over to play keyboards after she had convincingly played Linda the girl friend who became Mrs Jones. Daniel Lloyd on lead guitar was completely authentic with the original licks and solos and special mention to Phylip Harries who narrated throughout and even played sax on some music numbers.
Edinburgh Festival Theatre till March 19