As fans had hoped, Dolly Parton played all her big hits at her first Australian show of the Blue Smoke Tour at Melbourne’s Rod Laver Arena. But as much as there is a nostalgic, and very fun, familiarity to hearing Parton sing 9 to 5, I Will Always Love You, Islands in the Stream and Coat of Many Colours, it was her bluegrass and gospel repertoire that held the audience captive.
Parton gave fair warning that she would play many of the songs off her new cd, Blue Smoke, as soon as she had finished her opening numbers Jolene and Baby I’m Burning.
Starting with Bob Dylan’s Don’t Think Twice, It’s Alright, Parton had the crowd eating out of her hand. She flipped Dylan’s folk song on its head with her own harmonious “countrified” version, but she did thank Dylan for being a wonderful singer, if not a bit of an “odd” musical genius.
Parton is quick with her quips, telling tales about money, God and her upbringing. Some of the religious banter may have been a bit much for some, but it was clearly close to her heart.
She also loves to talk about money and has no qualms dishing out free advice on how to live a better life.
Parton really shone though when she was talking about her family and the music that she grew up playing and praying with in the Smokey Mountains of Tennessee.
The standout songs of the night were her acapella renditions of Little Sparrow and The Banks of Ohio. Her voice is pitch perfect and is a testament to her instincts of self preservation during her 50-years showbiz career.
This was a five star show and a chance to see one of the last musical legends of the 1960s,70s and 80s on stage. She is unstoppable.
Tickets are still available for tonight’s second Rod Laver show. Parton will then move onto Adelaide before going up the east coast and finishing in Perth.