Many years ago I had a friend, who I still keep in occasional contact with, who had a fabulous oldies band I used to follow around. A highlight of his band was when he did his famous Tommy James trilogy. He would start out with James’ hit “I think We’re Alone Now” then segue into “Hanky-Panky” and end with a rousing “Mony Mony” which got everyone really dancing wildly on the dance floor. Well tonite I finally got to see Tommy James in concert at Bergen PAC in Englewood, N.J.
Tommy James is now 67 years old and still has what it takes. I’ve seen many concerts of people who were around in the 60’s when I was a young lad and today they are in their 60’s and 70’s and still exude the same sound and energy. If music keeps you young then I want to be in a rock ‘n’ roll band like Tommy James and the Shondells. Tommy mentioned that he was glad to be performing there in Jersey since he grew up in Cedar Grove which is only a few towns away.
Tommy opened Saturday’s concert with his hit song “Draggin’ the Line” followed by his hit “Chrystal Blue Persuasion” followed by “Getting’ Together.” It was truly a rockin’ enjoyable feel good fun concert albeit too short being an hour and ten minutes. Tommy was backed by his Shondells who were a really terrific band consisting of lead guitar, bass guitar, rhythm guitar, Hammond organ and synthesizer. Tommy is the only original member of theShondells and played guitar also the entire evening as he did songs I had completely forgotten about until I heard them such as “Crimson and Clover” and “Sweet Cherry Wine.”
Tommy has a best selling book out called “Me, the Mob and The Music” which chronicles his life with his record label Roulette Records which was owned by mobster Morris Levy of the Genovese crime family which Tommy didn’t know until after he signed with Roulette. His book has recently been made into a feature film and as Tommy told about the movie he played what he said was the closing song of the movie as the credits roll by which was a slower and beautiful version of his hit “I Think We’re Alone Now.’ He later would do the regular faster upbeat version which got the audience hopping and dancing in the aisles.
At one point Tommy did “Hanky Panky” which really got the audience roaring in delight and then a really long version of “Mony Mony.” During this song the band did a really great long instrumental interlude while Tommy went into the audience and kissed the girls and signed autographs.
The band was superb and lead guitarist excellent. Tommy closed the show with ”Sweet Cherry Wine” another hit I had forgotten about until I heard it. For a really fun feel good concert check out Tommy James and the Shondells if they come to a theater near you.
Check out the videos I have below. Although they are from 1990’s and 2000 that is exactly how he looked and sounded Saturday night although he is just a bit chunkier now 🙂