Reviewed on Tuesday February 18 (image by Ashley Mar)
The night starts with an overture that sounds suspiciously like the theme from Hello, Dolly! Not particularly subtle, but then, subtlety isn’t exactly welcome in these parts. In its place are sequins, bouffant hair that threatens to block the sun, and enough Appalachian good cheer and straight talkin’ that by the end of the set you’ll be hitching a ride to the nearest tent revival.
Despite her diminutive height Dolly Parton is a striking figure, not so much inhabiting the stage as engulfing it. Her charisma is nothing short of exceptional, especially that Parton is now in the fifth decade of her career. Half a century of honing her craft, receiving more country music honours than any other woman alive and sustaining a voice as strong as any emerging star today.
It’s an outstanding achievement, and over the course of the performance that is what struck me again and again; from the crowd favourites ‘Jolene’ and ‘Islands In The Stream’, to the restrained, breathtaking ‘Little Sparrow’, this 68-year-old can sing. There was more religiosity than I was expecting (and fewer drag queens – only two who received a special shout-out), but it was a grand performance from one of the world’s genuine music titans.