Tom Jones knows how to work it.
During the stripper classic "You Can Leave Your Hat On" (his version was heard in "The Full Monty"), at least eight women danced to the lip of the stage Saturday night at Mystic Lake Casino and flung their panties with style at the feet of the ageless sex symbol.
When one woman held up potato sack-sized whities, Sir Tom feigned embarrassment. Without missing a beat, he tore into "Sex Bomb," a playful dance-party romp, and then "It's Not Unusual," his 1965 breakthrough hit that brought seven more panties onstage.
For an encore, the 67-year-old icon worked it even harder. "Resurrection Shuffle" and "I Like the Way," his stabs at disco, were more like low-impact aerobics for the women of all ages (from teens to 80-somethings) who crowded in front of the stage. He then sealed it with "Kiss," done with the kind of sassy funk that would have made Prince proud.
Despite the closing disco flurry, the 80-minute performance was really a showcase for Jones' vocal versatility. Besides his hits from the '60s and '70s, he covered everything from standards and blues to country and spirituals -- with mixed results.
His Broadway-like belting obliterated the subtleties on "Here's That Rainy Day" and "He Stopped Loving Her Today," which will sound sadder when George Jones croons it at Mystic Lake on Thursday and Friday.
The Welsh wonder's approach was more nuanced on the Van Morrison ballad "Cry for Home" and the spiritual "Grandma's Hands." He was most effective, though, when he cut loose on the swinging "That Old Black Magic," the very emotional "I'll Never Fall in Love Again" and the hilariously suggestive blues "Git Me Some."
With bug-eyed mugging and campy self-parody, Jones, who performs again tonight was in good spirits and in good voice. And, for the record, his performance ended with 49 panties (including one from a grandma gingerly helped by her adult granddaughter to the stage for a photo op), two bras, one stuffed Easter bunny onstage and 2,100 smiles on concertgoers faces.
For a set list and fan comments, go to www.startribune.com/poplife
Jon Bream • 612-673-1719