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Dolly Parton The O2 live review

The country icon brings her world tour to the UK.

Dolly Parton
Credit: Sony Music

Dolly Parton is a country music legend. The 68-year old has had a long and successful career in music, film and TV. Currently she’s on the road in support of her 42nd studio album Blue Smoke which has already taken her to the US, New Zealand and Australia. Dolly is currently working her way around the UK and she’ll be performing at Glastonbury tomorrow before she heads off to Europe. Last night Dolly played the first of two nights at London’s The O2 Arena.

Arriving on stage around 8.15pm, Dolly served up a lengthy show jam-packed with all the hits and more energy than the majority of performers conquering the charts today. The set was split into two with a 20 minute interval in the middle and no support act; seriously who could really open for Dolly and do it justice? Opening with a mash-up of Baby I’m Burning and Alicia Keys’ Girl On Fire, the show got off to a strong start as Dolly worked the stage singing her heart out.

The setlist is a mixture of old classics and new material serving up something for everyone who’s ever been a fan of Dolly. Those who went to see the classics weren’t disappointed as Dolly performed Jolene, 9 to 5, Islands In The Stream and of course I Will Always Love You. Of the newer material, Blue Smoke was a definite highlight as was Dolly’s take on Bob Dylan’s Don’t Think Twice, It’s All Right.

Bon Jovi’s Richie Sambora joined Dolly on stage for her gospel taken on the rock band’s classic Lay Your Hands On Me. That song brought the first half of the show to a close giving Dolly the opportunity for a breather and to get changed of course.

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Our favourite moment came on Coat of Many Colors which is a song Dolly wrote about a patchwork coat her mother made for her. She explained to the audience how the song has been turned into a book and is now part of anti-bullying programmes in schools in the US. The song is an emotional one and one that certainly gave us goosebumps.

Part of Dolly’s charm is her story-telling. Between songs she chatted away to the audience recalling tales of her childhood and her career with her trademark tongue-in-cheek humour. She poked fun at herself several times referring to her look as ‘cheap’ and entertaining the audience with the story of how she based her look on a prostitute.

Throughout the show Dolly played a variety of instruments on stage including banjo, guitar, pennywhistle and the fiddle. As we’ve always known she’s a multi-talented artist and even with her long red nails she can play with the best of them!

Dolly brought her show to a close with her signature hit I Will Always Love You. As she introduced the song she joked that she can’t sing as well as Whitney Houston before giving one of her best vocals of the night.

Seeing Dolly Parton in concert is a real treat. She’s a one-off and one of the most entertaining and talented artists in the music industry. Bursting with personality and with a catalogue of incredible songs, she puts on a remarkable show that is high on energy and packed with fantastic music. It’s no surprise that Dolly is still the Queen of Country after all these years and we hope she returns to the UK soon as we can’t wait to see her live again.

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