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Review: Dolly Parton at the Metro Radio Arena, Newcastle

The diminutive country legend brought a lifetime of hits and good advice to Newcastle on Saturday night

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Dolly Parton performs in front of a sell out audience at the Metro Radio Arena.

Before I went to see Dolly Parton, I had a genuine panic about the physical feat I had to complete in the morning.

Six weeks into this 38-year-old’s quest to go from the couch to being able to run 5,000 metres, the next prescribed run on my list strongly suggested that I should run for 25 minutes without stopping. Chilling I know.

Thankfully my spiralling concern was interrupted at the Metro Radio Arena by a little lady who has 30 years of living on me... but who still managed to put in more than two hours of live performance, which could quite rightly be given the hashtag #worldclass.

If I ever meet Dolly Parton, I’ll begin by asking her to give me a little backhander... and then share her secrets.

Yes we all know she’s had the surgical equivalent of a leg up (or two) when it comes to her age-defying appearance... but there’s not a surgeon in the world who could take credit for the rhinestone-clad life force which shines out of country music’s diminutive darling.

From the moment she appeared in a glittering little white number, (perfectly showcasing her famous 40-20-36 silhouette, which as always was topped off with her signature cascade of blonde curls) she lit up the Arena and had the thousands before hanging on her every word.

And there were a lot of words.

There were a lot of songs too. I counted 26, which is around 100% more than your average gig.

Mind you, there’s nothing average about Dolly’s back catalogue.

From her debut Hello, I’m Dolly in 1967 to her latest long player, Blue Smoke! the veteran performer, who still displays much evidence of having a heart of gold, has a lot to choose from.

Following an overture which hinted at what was to come, we didn’t have to wait long to be in the midst of a Jolene sing-a-long as Dolly hit her stride.

Known for never forgetting where she came from, Dolly’s upbringing in the Smoky Mountains, where love filled in the gaps in her big family’s bank balance, was never far from her autobiographical set list with tracks like Precious Memories, Appalachian Memories and My Mountains My Home.

Meanwhile her new material got a good - and deservedly well-received - outing too.

But as is always the case - and even more so when you’re dealing with a living legend - it was the Dolly classics which everyone loved the most.

Coat of Many Colours and the beautifully stripped down Little Sparrow had us spellbound, while Islands in the Stream, 9 to 5, Here You Come Again and I Will Always Love You negated the need for seats, finishing things up with the ovation she deserved.

You see, for all the glamour, glitz and quips (Me with a chest cold.. Ain’t that like giraffe with a sore throat?), Dolly Parton’s true talents come from the departments of singing, songwriting and musicianship... all topped off with a suitably trampy brand of lip gloss.

If she comes back, I thoroughly recommend you get yourself a ticket.

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