UAE: At 82, Sir Tom Jones is still a tough act to follow

The legendary Welshman regales distinguished patrons at the iconic Burj Al Arab Hotel — a day ahead of the Christmas Day for Orthodox and Arab Christians — in his first concert in Dubai after over five years


Joydeep Sengupta

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Published: Fri 13 Jan 2023, 9:17 PM

Last updated: Fri 13 Jan 2023, 9:34 PM

Owain Glyndwr may arguably be the most famous Welshman to grace Planet Earth.

He is known for leading an audacious revolt against the English rule in Wales and was also the last native Welshman to hold the coveted title of Prince of Wales. Perhaps, Hollywood superstar Sir Richard Burton could be a close second to Glyndwr.

But Sir Tom Jones, a living legend from Wales, is still a tough act to follow in the world of entertainment and show business, despite his advanced age of 82 years.

Last July, he took to Instagram to clear the air following swirling rumours that he had collapsed in Budapest, Hungary, ahead of his tour concert.

And six months later, the iconic Welshman was back at his mellifluous best at a lavish gala dinner — the first of many to come and which was hosted by M Premiere and brought to select guests by the History Group and DR Entertainment at the stunning Marina Garden of the Burj Arab Hotel — a day ahead of January 7 — that is celebrated as the Christmas Day by Orthodox and Arab Christians across the globe.

Sir Jones’s whirlwind day-long tour took place after more than five years of him headlining the opening night of the Dubai Jazz Festival in 2017.

The sprightly singer had paid tribute to his late wife Melina Trenchard — known as Linda — the Welshman’s childhood sweetheart, who had died of lung cancer the previous year after the couple had spent glorious years, in his last appearance in the city.

The Friday night gala, which accompanied a culinary journey and a four-course fine-dining experience by the Michelin-starred chef Andrea Migliaccio, who is responsible for the menu at Burj Al Arab’s Ristorante L’Olivo at Al Mahara and Sir Jones’s piece de resistance was preceded by scintillating performances by Bulgarian pianist Bobby Vachev and Italian band, Marco Zitti and Fratelli Coltell.

A little after 9pm Sir Jones, who had caught the global attention with his 1968 number It’s Not Unusual and had an over six-decade-long rollicking career, took the stage in a red flower-printed shirt and a black trouser to regale a 500-plus patrons with some of his own chartbusters — the Grammy award-winning singer has sold over 100 million records — and covers of diverse crooners from Cat Stevens also known as Yusuf Islam, a proud Dubai resident; the late Prince; Leonard Cohen and Chuck Berry — amid light drizzle and chilly breeze blowing at the iconic five-star hotel.

Fortunately, there was divine intervention, as the drizzle stopped shortly after Sir Jones known for his ready wit and a wry sense of rumour worked up the audience, who started jiving to his timeless classics such as S** Bomb and Chuck Berry’s Johnny Be Goode.

The audience lapped up Sir Jones’s renditions — a happy blend of rhythm & blues (R&B), rock-n-roll, pop, soul and gospel — while digging into Migliaccio’s curated menu of lobster salad, Wagyu beef, mushrooms and truffle sauce.

Sir Jones, who played for a little over an hour, performed on a specially-built outdoor stage set against the backdrop of the world-famous hotel while peppering the audience with anecdotes about his buddy and the “King of Rock and Roll” Elvis Presley and other legendary singers.

Evgeniy Morozov, Chief Executive Officer (CEO) and Creative Director of M Premiere succinctly summed up the evening.

“This was once-in-a-lifetime-opportunity to witness legendary Sir Tom Jones perform at an exclusive concert in Burj Al Arab hotel in a luxury setting. His on-stage energy is infectious as it sets the tone for similar great gala nights that we plan to host through this year.”

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