Dolly Parton - Live From London
For most of us in the UK Dolly Parton may as well exist in another dimension, only briefly gliding into our attention span as a victim of a Faith Brown impression or as the busty woman from 9 to 5. There are, however, a significant number of Brits who’ve taken her completely to their busom (ok, ok... enough boob references), so much so that her journey to the O2 Arena is by police escort past crowds of cheering well wishers. Dolly may be the Queen of Country but over here she’s the new Queen Mum, gawd bless ‘er.
Live in London is a CD/DVD combo but, well recorded though the CD is, it is the DVD that will see you reaching into your pockets to purchase this one. Why? Well, this is a very visual show and, while there are no pyrotechnics or flashy gimmicks, Dolly has more facial expressions than Widow Twankey. She’s made an effort too, appearing in a sapphire blue sequinned dress and blond bouffant hairdo - the creation of which must have led to at least one polar ice cap melting on its own. She’s even written a song about how she’s perceived, and ‘Backwoods Barbie’ proves to be an early highlight of the set during which we are warned Don’t let these false lashes lead you to believing I’m as shallow as I look. It isn’t just about the songs though and a great deal of the charm of the show comes from the between song chats which sometimes last longer than the songs she’s introducing. We learn, for example, that her first forays into dolling up as dolly came as a young child where she’d make lipstick from blackberries and eye-shadow from spent matches. Take that Kirsty Allsopp!
But what of the music I hear y’all holler. Well it is a well programmed mixture of old and new which, surprisingly perhaps, sees her massive hit (Don’t start!) ‘Jolene’ tossed casually into the set within the first five minutes. A mid show highlight is ‘The Grass is Blue’, a gorgeous number which was recently covered by Norah Jones to great acclaim, and which finds Dolly at the piano ready to claim her song back. The climax of the night, however, is where we are really reminded of the stature of Dolly, hitting us with a triumvirate of ‘Here You Come Again’, ‘Islands in the Stream’ and the inevitable ‘9 to 5’. There’s a brief pause, where we are reminded that not only did Dolly write these tunes but she was also credited as a musician for filing her nails on ‘9 to 5’, before she hits the audience with the did she really write that climax of ‘I Will Always Love You’ which, if nothing else, reminds us how brutally Whitney Houston could massacre a tune. It ain’t rock and roll but this is an entertaining couple of hours spent with a true star.