“Well you are a small but beautifully formed audience,” Aled Jones said peering at the crowd of 130 or so who had gathered for the launch of the Welsh singer’s national tour. We were all surprised that the star of BBC’s Songs of Praise and Strictly Come Dancing had been relegated to Astor Theatre’s tiny upstairs Lounge. “I would say get up and dance, but don’t!” Jones quipped at the audience who were crammed knee to knee.
Competition with the Perth Festival had obviously affected ticket sales but Jones still had a few things going for him: an audience of die-hard fans, an excellent sound engineer and an endearing sense of humour.
Supported by his musical director Ian Tilley on keyboards and acoustic guitarist Mike Ferrar, Jones presented hymns, pop anthems, music theatre numbers plus pieces from his thirtieth album At the Heart. The musical accompaniment was sparse but Rosco Stewart’s sound engineering gave a cathedral-like resonance to Jones’ supple baritone. From the tenderness of Make Me a Channel of Your Peace to the surging power of You Raise Me Up Jones had the audience spell-bound. His vocal technique was impeccable under the scrutiny of an intimate venue and his warm personality even more apparent.
There were awkward moments – two underwhelming instrumental pieces in the first set, frequent guitar smudges and a rather lame version of Amazing Grace – but Jones seemed to be really enjoying himself. “This room suits my kind of music… I feel like I’m singing in your lounge room”. He indulged in extra stories, an unplanned a capella Welsh folk song and even a short rendition of his boy soprano signature tune “Walking in the Air” just to prove he could still sing falsetto. The Aled Jones charm worked its magic and we left utterly convinced we were perhaps the smallest but the most important audience in his career.
This review copyright The West Australian newspaper February 2015.