In her previous Midsumma appearances Dolly performed to backing tracks but in 2008 she has gone fully live and performs with a 13 piece big band (though I kept counting 14!). I heard it on good authority that they had not played together before; well they certainly performed well on the night.
Introduced by the band playing, surprise surprise, Hello Dolly, Dolly Diamond proceeded to delight her audience with a range of classic numbers such as Stormy Weather, Hey Big Spender and Summertime (which was perhaps my favourite 'straight' number). She also included some old favourites including her hilarious version of Che Sera Sera and her 'tribute' to the Beckhams, I Shall Survive. She even let her band have the spotlight, fleetingly, with their tribute to Australia Day, a rousing version of Waltzing Mathilda and the Trombone/Saxophone duet, The Footy Buskers version of When the Saints Go Marching In.
But this was Dolly's night, as she repeatedly reminded us, there was only one star here and plenty of glam. In the second half she described herself as a giant cup cake and she certainly fitted the description even to the 'butterfly wings' on her head, a delightful millinery creation which would happily grace the members enclosure at Flemington. If a cup cake in the second, then Dolly might best be described as a meringue in the first half when dressed in a full skirted white gown. The red slinky number and the frothy pink also made their appearances.
But it was the bitchy banter which was the real highlight. If you are the shy, retiring type then be very careful where you sit and take note that you are not necessarily safe sitting further back in the tiered seating. Dolly is merciless and deliciously funny.
If the first half lacked a little energy and impetus this was well and truly made up for in the second when Dolly Diamond and Her 13 Piece Big Band really got her audience moving – there were chorus line kicks (whilst still sitting in the chairs) and up-standing dance alongs in the back rows.
If you want a night of fun and laughter, with some good music, then make a point of catching one of Dolly's two remaining performances at Chapel off Chapel on Saturday 26 and Sunday 27 January.
Dolly Diamond presents
Dolly Diamond and her 13 piece Big Band!
Venue: Chapel Off Chapel | 12 Little Chapel St, Prahran | Melways: Map 2L Ref J10
Dates/Times: 25 – 27 Jan 8pm
Tickets: $30 Full, $25 Con and Groups 10+
Bookings: 03 8290 7000 or www.chapeloffchapel.com.au