For fans of country music, and in particular for fans of Dolly Parton and Kenny Rogers, it was quite the treat to savour Country Superstars live at Liverpool’s M&S Bank Arena. Sarah Jayne Crust, known as the world’s leading Dolly Parton tribute artist (having also appeared on The One Show amongst other TV programmes), and her husband Andy played the roles of the various country music from down the years with authentic costumes and lifelike voices in between the songs that were performed very well indeed. The stage included banners stating the name of the show, along with a screen that would show both the performers on stage and photographs of the real-life artists to whom Sarah and Andy were paying tribute.
The show began with Baby I’m Burning by Dolly (who was backed by the Tennessee Allstars), followed by Why’d You Come In Here Looking Like That and the firm favourite Jolene, which had the audience going with attendees singing and dancing along. Applejack and a very sentimental version of Coat Of Many Colors were very well-performed, along with Dolly playing a guitar that had many colours on it for this tune!
Dolly introduced us to Johnny Cash (with an interesting hairstyle!), who began with Folsom Prison Blues and then a welcome addition for the local Liverpool audience, Ring Of Fire, which was very good. He finished his set with the ever-popular I Walk The Line. Billie Jo Spears was our next superstar, singing 57 Chevrolet and What I’ve Got In Mind, along with what was probably Billie’s most successful song and one that had the audience up dancing, Blanket On The Ground.
Garth Brooks was next to the stage to sing Standing Outside The Fire and then a great favourite, If Tomorrow Never Comes. Tammy Wynette was represented too with Your Good Girl’s Gonna Go Bad and the successful Stand By Your Man, and John Denver (in a questionable wig!) gave us what may have been the best performance of the night with Annie’s Song, which was done very authentically. Take Me Home, Country Roads brought the first half to an end in style as the audience loved this song.
The second half began with Shania Twain, and despite some initial technical glitches, she carried on unaffected with hits like Feel Like A Woman, That Don’t Impress Me Much and Rock This Country. All of the accompanying musicians backing the singers were very good, especially the mandolin player during Shania’s You’re Still The One which helped to make it feel special. The backdrop for the show continued to present images of both the performers on stage and their real-life selves.
Glen Campbell provided snippets of Southern Nights, Wichita Lineman and Gentle On My Mind, which included some great guitar work. And he also delivered in full the classics By The Time I Get To Phoenix and Rhinestone Cowboy. Dolly came back on to sing Blue Smoke, and then told us the story behind I Will Always Love You before performing it in typical Dolly style. This was followed by Here You Come Again, and then we were treated to the “oldest” member of the Country Superstars, Willy Nelson, and he sang On The Road Again and (in an excellent rendition) Always On My Mind.
Patsy Cline was then welcomed to the stage with Walkin After Midnight and I Fall To Pieces, with her most famous hit Crazy being very well-received by the crowd. Kenny Rogers then appeared as the final major act of the show to sing Coward Of The County, Lucille (a personal favourite!) and The Gambler, though again it was his most famous song that had the audience’s greatest approval, that being Ruby, Don’t Take Your Love To Town, which had the crowd joining in at Kenny’s request.
The finale saw Dolly and Kenny team up for a duet of Islands In The Stream which the crowd loved and responded by taking photographs and selfies with the pair. Dolly closed the show with 9 To 5, and this too had everybody up on their feet.
Country Superstars was a highly enjoyable show, especially for any fans of country music. The musicians were very good, and all of the favourites were performed by each artist that was represented. I would definitely recommend Country Superstars, and the show is returning to Liverpool next year, so check Writebase for all the details relating to the 2020 performance!
Overall Rating: 9/10 – Outstanding