Sunday, December 31, 2017

Highlights of 2017: hearing Sir Tom Jones record a gospel Christmas!

Back at the end of November 2017, I was fortunate enough to attend a recording of Gospel Christmas, a TV show presented by Sir Tom Jones and Beverley Knight, and featuring a couple of other singers and two gospel choirs. Now that the show has been aired (three times!) over Christmas I feel I can blog about it without upsetting anyone.

Sir Tom, in full voice

The first thing to say is that it was an extraordinary privilege to see a man I consider a living legend at such close quarters. He is, obviously, getting on a bit now, and yet he still has the most marvelous singing voice. He did two songs by himself, although backed by the gospel choir. Sir Tom did them in one take. Nobody was going to ask him to do it again, and he didn't need to.

In contrast, Beverley Knight seemed like a bit of a perfectionist. Although when she did her second take of a Prince cover you could see why she wanted to redo it. The second take got used in the programme.

There were a couple of other guests as well, who apparently have released albums and everything, but I hadn't heard of them before. One was Kwabs, whose solo song was Higher Love. It was an OK cover, but really, it's a good song and any half decent singer will sound good on it. The other guest was Jessie Ware. She sang In the Bleak Midwinter, which I loathe with a passion. Unfortunately, she had to sing it twice. Double loathing!

Jessie was also wearing a white shirt with batwing style sleeves that irresistibly reminded me of the famous 'Puffy Shirt' from Seinfeld. So much so I involuntarily laughed when she first came on-stage. Jessie and Kwabs also sung a duet of Have Yourself a Very Merry Christmas. It's another song that it's hard to mess up, although they both seemed to have a good attempt. They had two shots at it. Neither really convinced. (Kwabs had his own interesting sartorial choice as well, a woolly beanie hat. I imagine it looked reasonably cool when he decided to wear it for the show but he must have been sweating under the lights by the end.)

It's always funny to watch people record links. They fluffed a couple of them. Sir Tom joked with the audience after looking down the camera to introduce a piece they were going to cut to in the show.

Recording a link

It was fun to watch the programme and see the pre-recorded segment they put in, all about Tom visiting the Valleys chapel where he used to go to Sunday School.  There was another interesting segment featuring archive footage of a black church in Butetown, Cardiff. As the show was filmed at the old Coal Exchange, just around the corner it fitted with the show.

Despite being a one take hero for his numbers, Sir Tom recorded the grand finale twice. Beverley wasn't too happy with the second version either and seemed to want to go for a third attempt, but Sir Tom wasn't having it. He quite loudly asked what was wrong with the version they had just done then took the executive decision that twice was enough and slowly walked off.

Finale time! Including Jessie's puffy shirt

It was really special hearing him sing live, and just being present in the same room as him as he performed. It was definitely one of my highlights of 2017.

(Big thanks to my friend Leanne, who was in the group I went with and sent these pics to me!)

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