By Paula Pachecosson
Photos by Matthew Picken
As Dolly Parton arrives to open her show at the Perth Arena on Thursday February 27th, she rocks out in a white rhinestone encrusted playsuit looking absolutely amazing as expected. Parton opened her final show for the Blue Smoke Tour – where she has been in the US, New Zealand and Australia – with “Baby I’m Burning”, followed by Alicia Keys’ “Girl on Fire”.
The excitement and presence in the room was stunning. People hustled in sporting their pink cowgirl hats they had purchased at the merchandise stand before entering. Some folks went all out, wearing their Dolly-esque blonde wigs and pink getups to get into the spirit of the night.
The sound was a little poor in the beginning, however the glitch was fixed and Dolly apologised for the mishap allowing the magic of the night to continue flowing.
Dolly chatted to the audience, had a little laugh and joke around about the next song she was about to sing. To no surprise, everybody was very excited to hear her bust out “Jolene”.
Over the next two and a half hours of beautiful, glittering entertainment, Dolly delivered a playlist comprised of an all-embracing selection of songs from her new Blue Smoke album. She sang old classics, traditional gospel, folk songs, and an array of covers from the likes of Billy Joel, Bon Jovi and Bob Dylan.
The whole night had a spiritual and religious undertone without being overpowering. The most beautiful part of her performance was the warm, intimate feeling that Parton gave off when addressing the masses. It certainly didn’t seem like she was addressing a room filled with thousands of people. Whether it was to let them know how grateful she was for them being there, or her telling heart-warming stories about her childhood in Tennessee growing up being “dirt poor”, Ms Parton sure knew how to woo the crowd with her words. Her banter was both charming and hilarious, and she spoke with such an air of sincerity. She kept thanking people for their support – saying that “it costs a lot of money to look this cheap”.
The surprises kept coming. Dolly changed instruments constantly and was able to play almost every instrument in her band. Each instrument had more rhinestones than the last.
Ms Parton then played her classics – “Islands in the Stream”, “9 to 5” and “I Will Always Love You”. The crowd went berserk.
There is a lot to love about the white rhinestone encrusted rose of the Smoky Mountains Tennessee. Dolly went 30 minutes over schedule. However, I don’t believe a soul in the arena was particularly bothered by this fact.
The event was a heel thumping, hand-clapping hoedown. The Queen of Country has still got it; her voice is still in great shape much like the rest of her. Her voice especially impresses most when singing a capella, particularly in “Little Sparrow”. For those who did not find the performance to be a night to remember, I hope that one thing that can be agreed upon is how at 68, I hope to look even a quarter as good as Parton.