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Queen of country dazzles

Queen of country dazzles

Dolly Parton played the madam of the Best Little Whorehouse in Texas, so it was little surprise the Smoky Mountains Songbird was prepared to work blue at the final performance of her Australian tour.

Introducing her country cover of Bob Dylan's Don't Think Twice, It's All Right to 11,000 fans at the Perth Arena, Parton joked that she was thinking about a full album of the Minnesota Minstrel's tunes - Dolly Does Dylan.

Parton, 68, but parts of her are younger, thought twice about the titillating tribute, but cackled: "I might shake my pompoms at him."

Joined by her two backing singers, the Queen of Country's high-pitched voice was well-suited to the ballad, which appears on her latest and 42nd studio album Blue Smoke.

The title references both her beloved bluegrass music and even more beloved Smoky Mountains home, where Parton grew up dirt-poor as the fourth of 12 children to parents described as "horny hillbillies".

Thus, her new old-timey songs mixed with her Nashville country classics plus the huge pop hits across the two-hour performance, with a 20-minute break to allow Parton to swap her silver rhinestone-encrusted pants suit for a rhinestone-bedazzled dress.

An early favourite was her 1973 classic Jolene, a song warning off a potential rival for her man. If it was written today, it would be called Girl, Don't U Go There. Every Raelene, Eileen and Darlene - plus a few Deans - sang along with gusto.

As with her show at the Burswood Dome in 2011, Parton chatted about her family; dedicating Coat of Many Colours to her loving mother, Smoky Mountain Memories to her hardworking yet illiterate father, a gospel number to her Pentecostal pastor grandfather and plenty of songs to her Tennessee Mountain Home.

She broke up a bracket of songs straight out of "Sadville" - the lovely murder ballad Banks of the Ohio and acappella Little Sparrow, always a highlight - with a boob gag.

Joking, chatting, singing and playing just about every instrument under the sun - including a mini-sax during Rocky Top to nail Boots Randolph's Yakety Sax (aka the Benny Hill theme) - Parton is your one-stop, one-woman entertainment shop.

She shoehorned seven hits from her late 70s and 80s pop peak into a medley rather than disappoint anyone.

The fans were appreciative but mostly sedate, apart from a foursome of Dollys who rushed the stage during Parton's 1977 pop crossover smash, Here You Come Again, which signalled the run home.

The cheesy Bee Gees-penned Kenny Rogers duet Islands in the Stream finally got butts off seats, with backing singer Richard Dennison a bit too Cabaret Kenny, before 1980 smash 9 to 5 had the audience clapping and stomping along with the indefatigable Dolly.

The hardest working little lady in showbiz left us with the towering ballad I Will Always Love You. She also left us with no doubt that, once again, Parton did Perth.