It was ageing icons night at Forest Hills Stadium.
When 82-year-old legend Tom Jones limped to the stage, sat in a chair, and sang songs about old age, death, and what a wonderful life he’s had, this wasn’t Las Vegas era Tom Jones, but it certainly packed a punch. In excellent voice, he plugged his upcoming October 28th hip replacement (really) and did much of the set seated, singing his heart out. His one-hour set was a winner, mixing hits, new songs, and some great covers despite his physical limitations.
Van Morrison, noted curmudgeon, anti-vaxxer, angry millionaire and musical genius, came out with a tremendous nine-piece “little big band” if you will and did a mainly cover set of Jazz and Blues numbers, including the classic Jumpin’ With Symphony Sid. Well, Van was having a good enough time in his own world, but the 12,000-strong crowd seemed, for the most part, fairly disinterested. They chatted throughout, to the point where my friend asked the yentas behind us to “shoosh”, as we used to say. There were also mobs of fans making a steady stream back and forth, up and down, down and up the aisles to the concession stand, far more interested in the brew than the gig. And the PIÈCE DE RÉSISTANCE was when two middle-aged couples got into a vicious obscenity-laced argument in the next seat to my buddy and me. When the massive 400-pound husband rose out of his seat, I grew concerned that should fists be thrown and the man-mountain toppled, he would have crushed my friend/colleague into a little ink splat like in the cartoons. “Don’t call my wife the C-Word”, the fifty-somethingish White guy espoused angrily to The Kingpin and his foul-mouthed spouse. And yes, the guy actually said “C-Word.” Notice NONE of this has anything to do with the concert? I did. VERY, very distracting. But Van merrily played his covers without a care in the world, barely speaking to or engaging the audience. Now, being there for Tom Jones and a casual fan of Van (hey, “fan of Van”-that rhymes), I didn’t mind at all that he did a bunch of Jazz and Blues tunes because they were well done and more my speed anyway. Still, the crowd really didn’t seem involved until Jones came on to do two numbers with Morrison, in which he vocally blew him off the stage. Van, rightfully, referred to Jones as “The Voice.” But the crowd was only truly excited when he ended the show with Brown-Eyed Girl and Gloria.
A triumph it wasn’t.
Overall, I was thrilled to see Jones live finally and enjoyed Morrison for the most part, but had I paid hundreds to see it as many of the sold-out crowd did; I certainly wouldn’t have walked out happy. Hopefully, the chatty minions got their money’s worth.
Honestly didn’t seem that way.
Evan Ginzburg is a published author and was an Associate Producer on the Oscar-nominated movie “The Wrestler” and the acclaimed wrestling documentary “350 Days.” He is a 30-plus-year film, radio, and TV veteran and a voice-over actor on the radio drama Kings of the Ring. He is the Senior Editor for Pro Wrestling Stories and a contributing writer since 2017. He can be reached on Twitter @evan_ginzburg or by e-mail at [email protected]