Dolly Parton – Metro Arena (Newcastle, UK 9/10/11)
Newcastle Metro Arena, 9/10/11
As the sound of twittering birds filled the cavernous Metro Arena the curtains opened and a sudden burst of light was greeted with a huge roar from the Pink Stetson wearing crowd.
Dolly Parton, playing a fiddle and looking a vision of loveliness in her pink and silver dress slowly made her way onto the stage, before bursting into Walking on Sunshine by Katrina and the Waves; which actually summed up the whole evening. This was immediately followed by a barnstorming Baby I’m Burning.
The Grand Dame of Country then took a minute to greet the audience before she was handed a silver rhinestone covered acoustic guitar and strummed the opening chords to the iconic Jolene which had the already excited audience hyper ventilating.
The Star next played a Rhinestone encrusted banjo on a scintillating Rocky Top (Tennessee) which had all 6 musicians crowding around one mic. The Blonde Bombshell went on to play an assortment of sparkly instruments throughout the concert, including a Rhinestone encrusted baby Grand Piano, lap-steel, saxophone, autoharp and even a sparkling harmonica! I think she’s partial to a Rhinestone.
As you’d expect she sang songs from every corner of her long career but also included covers of Help by the Beatles and a countrified version of Led Zeppelin’s Stairway to Heaven (minus the guitar solo!) but they were merely filler compared to her own Country classics like Coat of Many Colours and Tennessee Mountain Home but it was the often overlooked but beautiful Little Sparrow that proved to be the showstopper of the night. Dolly sang it acapella alongside two of the female backing singers and you could have heard a pin drop as she proved what a great voice she still has.
The tour was to promote her new album Better Day and none of the new songs disappointed as they all fitted in seamlessly; especially the single Together You and I, which she’d performed ‘live’ (?) on BBC TV’s Simply Come Dancing only an hour earlier, Better Day itself and the pair of Country rockers, The Sacrifice and Country Is As Country Does .
Dolly is as Dolly does and each song was prefaced with a humorous self-effacing story; even if we’d heard them all before they still raised a smile and a chuckle when told in context.
As the show finally drew to a close the ever smiling singer; who was now wearing a sparkling all silver outfit; ended with Here You Come Again, which finally had them dancing in the aisles, as the stewards finally lost their battle to keep people in their £60 seats, and she followed that with Islands in the Stream.
Dolly was only away from the stage for less than a minute before returning to a cacophony of noise that only got louder when the band launched into the Hen Party signature tune; 9 till 5 .
When that finished Dolly thanked everyone again and introduced her most famous song, I Will Always Love You which started out tenderly and soon became a howl-a-long for the tearful crowd.
Finally seeing Dolly Parton play live was a dream come true and tonight’s concert was every inch the spectacular I’d hoped it would be and I can’t think of another singer who has a voice that is so powerful it filled every crevice of the hall, yet Dolly Parton still managed to make it all look so effortless.