Lydia Jenkin

Lydia Jenkin is an entertainment feature writer for the New Zealand Herald.

Review: Dolly Parton at Vector Arena

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Dolly Parton live in concert at Vector Arena. Photo / Sarah Ivey
Dolly Parton live in concert at Vector Arena. Photo / Sarah Ivey

She's like a one woman juke box, belting out the hits from across the decades, and she's so gosh darn happy doing it, all sparkly and lit up, that it'd be a hard hearted person who can resist her charms.

Playing the first show on her Blue Smoke tour at Vector Arena last night, Dolly Parton was a master storyteller as well as musician. Her voice seemed as strong as ever at 68, and her fingers still nimble enough to jump between Autoharp, mandolin, and tin whistle...or was she miming? It was hard to tell - certainly not all the time, and most would have sympathy for giving her a little help when she sings for more than two hours each night.


Either way, flanked by a seven piece band, along with three backing singers, and a mysterious backdrop (was it supposed to be shaped like symbolic cleavage? They made nice large screens for those down the back anyway), she had many tales of life in the Smoky Mountains, and memories of her mamma and pa to share as she sang her way through old favourites like Coat of Many Colours, Home, Smoky Mountain Memories, and My Mountains My Home.

She paid loving tribute to Bob Dylan (who she called a "weird buckaroo"), with a lovely version of Don't Think Twice It's Alright, gave a nod to Keith Urban with Rocky Top, and the godmother of Miley Cyrus even proved she keeps up with the pop charts, including Alicia Keys 2012 hit Girl On Fire in her opening "fire medley".

It was her humour and warmth that were the real entertainment highlight however, and there was plenty of cheek peppered through.

She's not afraid to make fun of her own assets ("my mountains"), or tell how it was her husband flirting with a bank worker that inspired Jolene, or reveal that she's not sure if she'll get into heaven because "I'm too good to be bad, and too bad to be good."

But judging by the crowd response, no one at Vector would have a doubt - she's the sweetest lady in show business after all.

- NZ Herald

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