REVIEW: Dolly Parton @ Echo Arena 31/08/11

The unrivalled Queen of Country Dolly Parton entertained a near sell out crowd of almost 11,000 as she brought her Better Day world tour to Liverpool’s Echo arena this week. Rich Denton reviews

On stage for almost two and a half hours Dolly played a mixed set of covers, self penned material new and old and immersed the crowd with her humour and tales of her incredible life.

Opening with Katrina and the Waves cover ‘Walking on Sunshine’ and wearing a red dress sparkling with rhinestones Dolly appeared on stage to the delight of the predominantly female crowd.

As one of the most successful female singer songwriters of all time and having written ‘thousands of songs’ Miss Parton certainly had plenty of music to choose from and this showed with a diverse set list of style and sound.

There were of course crowd pleasers like ‘Jolene’ and a stripped down version of The Beatles ‘Help’ but also some traditional bluegrass numbers gave the diminutive star a chance to show off her (multi instrument) musical skills.

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As one of 12 children Dolly is keen to talk about her simple hillbilly upbringing and the love she had for her parents. Taking time out to tell the tales of her childhood Dolly dedicated ‘Coat of Many Colours’ and ‘Smoky Mountain Memories’ to her old folks.

But it was the new material that surprised with songs from Dolly’s latest album ‘Better Day’. The upbeat ‘In the Meantime’, ‘Together You and I’ and the more bluesy ‘Let Love Grow’ and title track ‘Better Day’ proving to be real highlights of the night

Dolly also mentioned her latest movie Joyful Noise, a Gospel inspired musical with Queen Latifah due for release in Early 2012. This gave her a chance to honour Latifah with a rap and moves of her own much to the joy of the pink hatted crowd.

All that remained was to perform the songs that made her a household name and with a closing salvo of ‘Here You Come Again’, ‘Islands in the Stream’ and ‘Nine To Five’, bringing the arena to its feet, a sublime encore of ‘I Will Always Love You’ sent everyone away knowing they had seen a true living legend.

Dolly Parton continues to tour the UK throughout September

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