"It's not unusual to be loved by anyone. It's not unusual to have fun with anyone ..."
"It's Not Unusual", by Tom Jones
I think this is the part where we add in "unless that fun involves a bevy of 40-plus-year-old 'Sex Bombs' gyrating and singing at the top of their lungs on a beach in the Middle East to the tune of a 73-year-old Welsh crooner who fully expects them to throw their undies his way."
That kind of fun is frankly 'way-out-there otherworldly bizarre', yet it's about to happen. For any of the 'under-18' crowd who might mistakenly wander onto this post, I would venture so far as to say the image of it all might well be growth-stunting.
(If I do in fact cause great visual/mental anguish to you by virtue of this post, I sincerely apologize. If you're already feeling nauseous: "STOP reading NOW!")
Far from the Diamond Jubilee Concert in front of the staid walls surrounding Buckingham Palace, or the pulsating song hall at Caesar's Palace in Las Vegas, Tom Jones in his tight pants is coming this September to expose his graying chest hairs under the spotlights shining down at night on the beach in Doha.
Is it pure coincidence that he would choose to hold a concert in his 70's - surely the culmination of his performing career - in a mecca of middle-aged, booze-hazed, desperate-for-kicks expat wives (a significant number of whom are Welsh, British, Scottish and American)?
(Calm down, desperate Doha wives, don't be offended ... I count myself in your midst ... I don't diss lightly.)
Is it all a sign of how far he's come or of how far we've fallen, I wonder?
Now, hear this. I am NOT a raging Tom Jones fan.
But nor am I immune to breaking into an enthusiastic rendition of "Delilah" on the odd occasion when QBS radio (Qatar Broadcasting Station) decides to play it at 7:00 a.m. on the Breakfast Show.
I've been known to get teary-eyed and Sauvignon-sappy to a Pinoy karaoke rendition of "Green, Green Grass of Home".
And I admit to secretly believing Smilin' Vic wrote "She's a Lady" for Tom Jones with only me in mind.
But those aren't the reasons I feel compelled to spend close to $350 on VIP tickets for Smilin' Vic and me. Nope. Not at all.
No. The compelling reason behind dishing out an absurdly grotesque amount of money to go sweat on a beach in 40C weather at 9 p.m. on a week night is the sheer fun, eccentricity, atrocity and madness of it all.
I often refer to Doha as a Las Vegas of sorts (minus the gambling ... unless you count the stock market). It's a desert oasis, covered in dust yet punctured by the occasional greatness of grossly entertaining, pure fun, truly majestic and absolutely surreal performing arts experiences. Far from the bedouin tent-dwelling existence my family continues to believe I have been relegated to, Doha provides us with everything from Barney, to Disney on Ice, to the Harlem Globe Trotters, to the Doha Tribeca Film Festival, to The Russian Ballet, to Cirque du Soleil, to Placido Domingo, to TOM JONES!
Doha is a continuous dichotomy of traditionalism and modernism. The community awakens at morning call to prayer, black abayas and white thobes pepper the crowds, camel racing is still alive and well, and the desert sands beckon.
But pop music resonates in Land Cruisers on the return home from mosque, skinny jeans and Leboutin's lurk under the abaya, and ghutras come in all styles, from cobra to cowboy. And while camel racing and desert camping are popular, desert sand duning in custom-made go-carts is all the rage.
And so I can't help but think that bringing Tom Jones to Doha is the ultimate depiction of that traditionalist/modernist dichotomy with a twist. Because ask anyone where Tom really fits, and they can't really tell you. Where DOES he fit? He's kind of 60's, 70's, 80's personified; but 90's, 2000's glorified. The twist is that he fits. Kind of everywhere. In a good way. Apparently even in the ME.
I was never a Tom Jones fan. But I knew his songs. I sang along. And I'm really psyched he's coming to Doha. Believe it or not, so is Smilin' Vic. I'm really excited for this chance to touch a bit of the past today. An American (Welsh) icon playing in the Middle East, an old boy playing for a youngish (if that's what you consider middle-aged to his advanced age) crowd.
It's an old face in a new town.
It's East meets West.
It's a coal miner's son come to visit the land of oil and natural gas.
It's Tom Jones and Me ... in the ME. LIVE! In Qatar!