Wednesday 22 November 2017

Catch all the big hits at Punchestown

Tom Jones, Culture Club, All Saints, ABC, Dr Hook, Village People and Shane Filan are just some of the acts playing

Prince of Wails Tom Jones headlines the Punchestown Music Festival
Prince of Wails Tom Jones headlines the Punchestown Music Festival
Barry Egan

Barry Egan

A sweltering night in Los Angeles, 2008. Soul titan Thomas Jones Woodward, the son of a coal miner, who grew up in a home with no bath, takes to the stage at The Greek Theatre and breaks into She's a Lady, Delilah, It's Not Unusual and Daughter of Darkness. And before the crowd knows what hits them, Sex Bomb.

Glamorous women of a certain age, some of them octogenarians, clutching underwear in their quivering, bejewelled hands, sing the words as they approach the stage in double-quick time and then, submitting to delirium, fling the aforementioned undergarments at the ageless walrus of lurve.

The following night in a bar near his home high in the Hollywood Hills, Sir Tom is drinking Champagne and telling me about a song on his new album, 24 Hours. The song in question, The Road, he says is "an apology of sorts" to his wife Linda for his exploits away from the family home, on the road.

"No matter what I've done or where I've been, the road has always led me back to Linda," he told me all those years ago. "When you're young and there are a lot of women around it's hard not to dabble. But when you're older, your sexual drive isn't as strong as it used to be. I think that's a good thing. I'm not tempted like I used to be. It's still there, but I love my wife more than anything in the world."

Sadly, his wife passed away in April of last year. What is still here, however, is Tom Jones's incredibly emotive, powerful, singing voice - up there with Van Morrison as one of the great white soul sounds of this or any era.

The towering emotion in his voice when he sings classics like Daughter of Darkness or Green Green Grass Of Home makes you realise Sir Tom means every word.

So it will be a great honour to see the Prince of Wails headline The Punchestown Music Festival on Sunday July 30.

On the previous evening, another genius of blue-eyed soul, Boy George, will perform with his legendary band Culture Club - doing such timeless masterpieces as Do You Really Want to Hurt Me, Karma Chameleon and Church of the Poison Mind.

Again, when you are privileged enough to witness Boy George sing you realise a) what an incredible singer he is, and b) what an obvious influence he's been on everyone from Sam Smith, Justin Timberlake to Antony Hegarty of Antony and the Johnsons.

Performing across the weekend at this marvellously diverse, even nostalgic, festival of endless hits are - deep breath now as there are a lot of classics to get through here:

All Saints (Never Ever, Pure Shores, I Know Where It's At), ABC (The Look Of Love, Poison Arrow), Smokie (Living Next Door to Alice), Boney M (Rivers of Babylon, Rasputin, Brown Girl in the Ring), Village People (Y.M.C.A., Macho Man) Dr Hook (Sylvia's Mother), ex-Westlifer Shane Filan (Everything To Me), Bonnie Tyler (Total Eclipse Of The Heart and Deacon Blue (Real Gone Kid).

And not forgetting the incomparable Roland Gift of Fine Young Cannibals who sang one of the greatest songs of the 1980s, Johnny Come Home.

All these hits, and a roller disco too. And not forgetting fabulous food, camping (a limited amount of pre-pitched tents, tipis, bell tents and luxury lodges), 24-hour security, showers, and a pamper parlour (with hair dryers and straighteners!)

Do you really want to miss the Punchestown Music Festival?

Tickets, priced €69.50-€129, plus. booking fee, are on sale now at Ticketmaster outlets and, or by phone (24 hours) on 00 353 818 719 300

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