Dave Best column: Dolly still has what it takes to please a crowd

Dolly Parton

Dolly Parton

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Dolly Parton stole the show at last weekend’s at Britain’s biggest and best festival, Glastonbury.

The 68-year-old star’s performance earned the biggest cheer, proving when it comes to crowd-pleasing, you can’t beat the legends.

I don’t think I’m being too presumptuous when I say that the average Glastonbury attendee probably wouldn’t be first in line to buy tickets for a Dolly Parton concert. Most of the mud-caked masses parents will have been too young to remember Dolly’s glory days. So how is it that this elderly American woman had one of the largest crowds of the weekend?

It shouldn’t come as a surprise really when you think about it. Her particular brand of pageantry and camp-tastic pomp sells out arenas worldwide, and I’m sure many of her stringent followers bought tickets for the festival just for her. For the other 50,000 non Dolly-maniacs that watched her on The Pyramid Stage I’m sure the reasoning was simply “when else will I ever get to see Dolly Parton?”

This is why getting legends like Parton to play the festival is a slam-dunk for festivals organisers. Pretty much everyone on the planet has heard of her, knows a few of her greatest hit’s – I mean, who doesn’t love “Jolene” – and would relish the opportunity to rub their grandparents faces in the fact they were there.

Also, you know it’s going to be fun. In a festival overflowing with rock bands and mindless dance groups, Dolly is going to be a refreshing and welcome change: all fun, sunshine and sing-alongs. You don’t have to take it too seriously; you don’t need to really even be a Dolly Parton fan at all to enjoy it. All that’s required is to grab your friends have a dance and a laugh. It’s guaranteed merriment.

And like Bruce Springsteen, The Rolling Stones and The Who – all who were amazing at recent Glastonbury Festivals - Dolly knows how to play to big crowds. Now I’m not saying I hold her in the same esteem as these other acts but give the lass her due, she’s written some great tunes.

I love discovering new bands at festivals, but I also really enjoy watching legends that I wouldn’t necessarily buy a ticket to watch. I’ve seen the likes of Madness, Tom Jones and more recently Beyonce at various festivals and have come away from each with a smile on my face.

Dolly definitely fulfils a similar criteria for the average festivalgoer: kitsch, light-hearted fun, perfect for a sunny afternoon in a field.