Tom Jones might have been able to sing more songs Monday night at the Kennedy Center if he hadn't been so darned busy wiping his sweat with the female undergarments handed to him by his legion of swooning fans.
But after all, for the last two decades, that's what the rakish Welshman has been known for: Tom Jones sings, swings, sweats and swivels for the ladies.
Randy theatrics aside, Jones indeed has a set of pipes. On two numbers from an upcoming musical called "Matador," Jones demonstrated his ability to skip from leonine growl to piercing vibrato without faltering, a fact that did not seem to garner much appreciation from the audience, since the music was relatively unknown and at times ponderous.
To offset such moments, there were plenty of pop tunes that are well known, but not necessarily well suited for an undulating, middle-aged man in a tuxedo. There were appalling versions of songs by Billy Idol (picture an Elvis impersonator with Jack Nicholson's subtle snarl and Wayne Newton's dance steps), Wang Chung and Bob Seger. But it would be hard to imagine anything more soulless than a white man from Wales singing "Soul Man" with a 12-piece band in the stately Kennedy Center Concert Hall.
Even well-timed anatomical thrusts couldn't punctuate newer pop material with the funk that makes tunes like Prince's "Kiss" so irresistible.
After clunking a plastic version of Paul Simon's "You Can Call Me Al," Jones finally delivered the goods in the form of a medley, letting loose with his most famous songs, "She's a Lady," "It's Not Unusual" and "Daughter of Darkness" -- all of them palatable and most definitely appropriate for the audience demographics and the singer's vocal style.