SHIMMYING on to the stage in a gravity-defying, rhinestone-studded neon pink ensemble, Dolly Parton has certainly got the X Factor.
I joined the Stetson-wearing, cowboy boot-clad brigade that had turned out in force to see the Queen of Country at the arena.
It was a reviewing job that was more to appease Ma Wheeler’s demands, than a reflection of my taste in music, but the little lady with the big voice won me over.
The blonde bombshell has got charm and talent in bucketloads and you can’t help but get into the swing of things at a Dolly concert.
Though she plays up to her ditzy appearance, this blonde is one smart cookie and I’d forgotten just how many songs she’s penned.
Classics such as Jolene, Nine to Five, Coat of Many Colours and I Will Always Love You were always going to be sure-fire crowd pleasers.
But Dolly also did a country-take on other hits such as Walking on Sunshine, Beatles’ tracks and even a Queen Latifah-esque rap.
She’s a tiny dot on stage but what Dolly lacks in stature, she makes up for in voice and her vocals soared through the arena.
Little Sparrow in particular was simply beautiful and packed a real emotional punch.
That’s partly the key to Dolly’s success – she imbues her songs with a passion that is rare in today’s pop chart.
And unlike many of the big American stars I’ve seen at the arena, Dolly had some great interaction with the crowd as she reminisced about her “Momma” and her days growing up in Tennessee’s Smoky Mountains.
As she sang, images of her ramshackle childhood home played on the big screen proving just how far she’s come from being a mountain girl to one of the biggest selling female artists ever.
Whatever your views on her music, there’s no denying Dolly’s a legend – and rightly so.
There’s not many women of pensionable age who could pull off a pair of silver sequined cycling shorts – gotta love Dolly!