The lights went out and the crowd waited with bated breath. Noises of the country filled the air, crickets, whistling wind and then that voice. It is the voice that can and does make the hairs on the back of your neck stand up. The curtains were pulled back and there stood the Dolly Parton, whose voice betrayed her pint sized stature and despite her tiny frame on the size of the arena stage, Ms Parton made it feel like she was performing for you and you alone, intimate.
Playing a 28 song set which included tracks from her latest album Better Days, cover versions which included Help!, Son Of A Preacher Man, River Deep Mountain High and Walking On Sunshine among other as well as her classic hits Dolly wowed the crowd not just with her voice or her rhinestone cladded big wigged costumes but also with her consummate professionalism, her witty in between song banter and with her musicianship. As well as her voice, this lady has musical talent playing the fiddle, guitar, banjo, harmonica, piano and many more – all of which were adorned with her trademark rhinestone shine.
Besides being taken through a musical journey of Dolly’s life with real life inspired tracks Jolene and Coat of Many Colours you also travelled with her through the different music genres from blues to bluegrass to what she calls Dollypop and even to rap – yes rap.
The truly breath taking moment in her performance came when she sang Little Sparrow. Not a sound could be heard from the audience as Dolly stood centre stage and sang it a cappella, pitch perfect, it was truly mind blowing.
After playing for an hour and a half Dolly left the stage for an intermission (and a costume change) before coming back and playing for a further 50 minutes which included a quickfire round of her hits Here We Come Again, Islands In The Stream and 9 to 5. After another quick costume change she came back and closed the show with her heart breaking track I Will Always Love You – singing it the way it was meant to be sung.
This performance was truly stunning. Viva la Dolly Parton.