Sir Tom Jones to defy critics and perform Delilah at first major gig in Wales for 20 years after Welsh Rugby Union banned hit for ‘offensive’ lyrics
Sir Tom Jones is set to rebel against critics and sing his track Delilah at his first major show in Wales in 20 years.
The 1968 song has been banned from rugby matches in the country after the Welsh Rugby Union (WRU) said the lyrics were inappropriate and offensive.
The words depict a woman named Delilah being stabbed to death after her husband discovered she’d been cheating.
And the 1968 Ivor Novello award-winning hit is no longer allowed to be played before games at Cardiff’s Principality Stadium.
The spokesperson for the venue said: ‘Delilah will not feature on the playlist for choirs for rugby internationals at Principality Stadium.
Defiant: Sir Tom Jones, 82, is set to rebel against critics and sing his track Delilah at his first major show in Wales in 20 years (Sir Tom pictured in 2018)
‘The WRU removed the song from its half-time entertainment and music playlist during international matches in 2015. Guest choirs have also more recently been requested not to feature the song during their pre-match performances and throughout games.
‘The WRU condemns domestic violence of any kind. We have previously sought advice from subject matter experts on the issue of censoring the song and we are respectfully aware that it is problematic and upsetting to some supporters because of its subject matter.’
It will no longer be performed or sung by choirs at the stadium.
However, Delilah has been included on Sir Tom’s set list for his performance at Cardiff Castle in July.
The 82-year-old Welsh music legend has previously defended the controversial lyrics, insisting it’s not meant to be taken ‘literally’.
He told the BBC in 2014: ‘I love to hear it sung at rugby games. It makes me very proud to be Welsh. I think if they’re looking into the lyric about a man killing a woman, it’s not a political statement.
‘It’s just something that happens in life [and] he just loses it.
‘The great thing about the song that everyone picks up on is the chorus. I don’t think that they are really thinking about it. I wasn’t thinking that I was the man that was killing the girl when I was singing the song, I was acting out the part and that’s what the song is.
Can’t perform: The 1968 song has been banned from rugby matches in the country after the Welsh Rugby Union (WRU) said the lyrics were inappropriate and offensive (pictured in 2021)
‘If it’s going to be taken literally like that then I think it takes the fun out of it. I think it takes the spirit out why it’s being sung.’
Sir Tom last performed Delilah at the stadium in June 2022.
It comes after a Welsh rugby fan descended from the writer of one of the country’s most famous hymns has waded into a row over banning Sir Tom’s hit song Delila.
John Wilesmith, 64, is distantly related to William Williams Pantycelyn, who wrote what would become Bread of Heaven.
John is an avid rugby fan and has sung Delilah for years but after looking at the lyrics closely, he says he agrees with the decision.
The granfather-of-three said: ‘At first I thought it was ridiculous, but then I looked at the lyrics. I can’t see how it crept under the wire all these years. It’s a bit like finding out your favourite uncle has a bit of a dodgy past.
‘But lots of jokes and lyrics that were thought acceptable once rightly aren’t now and we have to move with the times.’
Allegations of a toxic culture at the WRU have been reported in recent weeks.
Unimpressed John Wilesmith (pictured) is distantly related to William Williams Pantycelyn, who wrote what would become Bread of Heaven. He said reading the Delilah lyrics is ‘like finding out your favourite uncle has a bit of a dodgy past’
This had led some people – including current stars – to claim that songs are not what the organisation should be looking at.
John agrees, and said: ‘I can’t help feeling that this is a bit of a knee-jerk reaction and a soft target.
‘They should focus on completely stripping back the whole organisation and starting again. They’ve got no other choice.
‘There are so many people singing it who have no idea of its relevance to domestic violence.
‘It would be better to encourage them to think about it and become more aware.
John, of Ledbury, Heref., played for the local rugby club and is now chairman.
His grandmother Mary Williams – her maiden name – was a direct descendant of Pantycelyn.
He wrote Arglwydd, arwain trwy’r anialwch in 1745, which was translated into English decades later.
That version includes the Bread of Heaven line and is now sung to the tune of Cwm Rhondda.
Controversial: The words of the song depict a woman named Delilah being stabbed to death after her husband discovered she’d been cheating (pictured in 2020)
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