Dolly Parton – [Live]

Sunday, 31 July 2011

Dolly Parton brought her Better Day Tour to the Sleeptrain Pavilion late last week, and reaffirmed what most people in the venue already knew within minutes – that she is still a top notch performer, and a country music legend, without a doubt.

Opening the show with an even more feel-good version of Katrina and the Waves' "Walking on Sunshine,” Dolly was charming and engaging, and had an over-abundance of energy. She danced and moved around the stage with the same grace she has always exhibited, and interacted with the fans in the first few rows as if they were longtime friends, and did not stop smiling at them; not even once.

Before a slightly revved up version of "Jolene," Dolly took a minute to address a few of the more "dressed up" (some who were female, and some who were male) fans in attendance and very tongue-in-cheekily claimed that they looked better than a few of the "Ugly Mugs" that were at the previous night's show. It was just her subtle way of both poking fun at herself, but giving a shout out to her long time fans at the same time. It also proved that she "gets it" and is genuinely appreciative of her followers. 

In between songs, Dolly also showed that she has quite a knack for storytelling as well as a gift for gab. Before covering “Stairway to Heaven,” for example, she talked about how her husband said it sounded more like "Stairway to Hell" when hearing her rendition for the first time. Before "Coat of Many Colors" (which she described as her favorite song) Dolly talked briefly of her mother. While so much banter in between songs might have distracted from the music during the sets of other performers, it really added a certain dynamic to Dolly's songs, established a connection with the audience and made them feel that much more real.

Although Dolly did do a number of cover songs, they were all done with her own little twist, and all sounded fresh and unique. From The Beatles "Help" to Sly Stone's "Higher” to "Son of a Preacher Man" (complete with Parton wailing on the saxophone), the singer gave each song a healthy dose of her own personality.

Covering just about every decade of her forty-plus-year career, Dolly did make sure that all her big recognizable hits were included. Songs such as "Little Sparrow,” "My Tennessee Mountain Home,” "Better Get To Livin'" and of course both "9 To 5" and "I Will Always Love You" all sounded simply timeless, and were delivered with just as much enthusiasm as they were the day they were originally recorded, if mot more. 

Dolly put absolutely every ounce of herself into every minute of the entire evening and, by the time it was over, there could not have been one person in the house that did not realize what an amazing performer, musician, songwriter, and person they had just seen. Including this photographer.


Dolly Parton – Sleeptrain Pavilion – Concord, Ca – 07/24/11



Dolly Parton's Better Day Tour continues. For an updated list of upcoming shows, click here .


Better Day
is out now. Buy it here on Amazon .

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