On Friday night I got the chance to go and see Dolly Parton live at the LG Arena in Birmingham. Now I realise I have alienated a bunch of people right there – but for every person who pulled the ‘really, what the hell?’ face when I told them, there were ten who were begging to come with me. As it was, after many years of requesting 9 to 5 whenever we go out, my best friend Manda was the chosen +1.
To say we were excited on Friday would be an understatement, we were beside ourselves – especially when we got in the car to drive there. By the time we got to the car park and joined the mass of people walking towards the arena (mostly in cowboy hats and checked shirts!) we were immensely buzzed. We had pretty good seats we thought, being pretty much in line with the front of the stage at the side, but a lot of people around us were complaining to the stewards which was a little annoying as it distracted us a little from the show.
She didn’t have a support so she came on stage at 8 to a deafening wave of screams, shouts and claps and then proceeded to entertain for about three hours, only stopping for a 20 minute interval. To say this lady has talented is completely underestimating it. She was immense. Hands down the best person I’ve ever been to see live. There was EVERYTHING in the show – from the classic Dolly songs like Jolene to covers of the Beatles’ Help, Walking On Sunshine, a bluegrass section, she even did a rap at one point. The contrast between her singing an acapella version of Little Sparrow which had the whole audience silenced in awe to her belting out classic tunes while dancing all round the stage like someone half her age was immense.
Just to have that stamina is pretty amazing, considering she’s 65. And as Manda put it in the interval ‘If I had legs like that at her age I’d be pretty happy.’ You got the whole package with her, from the many different instruments she brought out to play (all sparkly naturally) to the anecdotes and jokes in between the songs, we were all laughing away as she cracked one liners about herself, Whitney Houston and of course the famous boobs.
So it’s fair to say when it was nearing the end we were really on a high but the best bit for me came when every single person got on their feet to have a little dance and sing along to Here You Come Again followed by Islands In The Stream followed by my fave 9 to 5. She then disappeared for a minute to be buttoned into a sparkly coat and came back on to sing another chorus of 9 to 5 and then belt out I Will Always Love You.
And then we had to go home, wishing we could go again but safe in the knowledge we would always have our memories (and our amazing Dolly t-shirts).