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Lizzo at 3Arena review: ‘What the f***’ – intensity of Dublin screams, cheers and Olé, Olé leaves star speechless

The singer’s feelgood approach – positive, celebratory, uplifting, defiant – strikes a cultural chord on a cold Monday night


3Arena, Dublin

It’s hard to describe the intensity of the screams that greet Lizzo as she arrives in Dublin for her first concert in the capital since the Olympia Theatre in November 2019, that memory very much part of the before times. By that point reissues of her third album, Cuz I Love You, had both spawned and springboarded three hits, including Truth Hurts and Good as Hell alongside the original track listing’s Juice.

Her seemingly overnight success had in fact taken the guts of a decade, Lizzo finding her way to stardom through girl groups and ones-to-watch lists, accompanied by the type of sleeper hits that gradually earwormed their way into TikTok’s viral music matrix, film and television soundtracks, and awards-show stages.

This is the Special tour, with Lizzo’s feelgood approach – positive, celebratory, uplifting, defiant – continuing to strike a cultural chord that encompasses self-care, self-love and body positivity. This message stretches itself across almost two hours at 3Arena. There’s some filler, sure, but does it matter when everyone in the room is clearly so delighted?

She opens with The Sign on a 1970s-style throwback stage, with a small but sensational band and DJ, including the 19-year-old electric guitarist Jordan Waters. The initial tempo of the show is relentless, Lizzo, in an impossibly sparkly black jumpsuit, commanding the arena. The set draws heavily from Special, including the full-on 1980s movie-montage soundtrack that is 2 Be Loved (I’m Ready), with its handbrake turn of a key change, I Love You Bitch, and Everybody’s Gay.


The art is the message, and the message is the art. In a celebrity culture busy injecting itself with appetite-suppressant diabetes drugs, Lizzo has always foregrounded body positivity, rejected body-shaming, celebrated and platformed black woman identity, been an LGBTQ+ ally, and encouraged a damn good time. In this context, the presence of her dancers, the Big Grrrls, feels like a radical act.

At one point Lizzo’s body becomes a literal backdrop, projected with visuals, which end in My Body My Choice projected as a slogan, to deafening cheers.

This throughline of liberation, solidarity and empowerment feels present in every note and beat. The power of her voice is rarely given as much space as Lizzo’s iconic qualities, but tonight it soars, effortlessly.

Throwing roses into the crowd to a chorus of Olé, Olé, the crowd breaks into an extended cheer. Lizzo – mouthing “what the f***?” – appears genuinely taken aback by the enthusiasm.

Eventually her trademark instrument emerges, rising from the stage on a sequinned platform. Lizzo goes into a flute jam before an audience member kicks off Truth Hurts. When the camera is thrown back on to the crowd, with the main woman selecting signs to read, and shouting out various audience members leaping from their seats in joy, Lizzo’s relationship with her fans becomes less interaction and more involvement. Her wholesome, uplifting message and artistry cut through the biting Dublin wind, bringing a glowing warmth to a cold Monday night.

Una Mullally

Una Mullally

Una Mullally, a contributor to The Irish Times, writes a weekly opinion column