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Niall Horan at 3Arena: ‘Good Lord. Compose yourself Ireland ... It’s so good to be home’

Fellow Irish star Dermot Kennedy appears for surprise duet with Horan to earth-shattering screams

Niall Horan at the 3Arena

Niall Horan

3Arena, Dublin

With infectious energy and a winning smile, former One Directioner Niall Horan bounded on to the stage at Dublin’s 3Arena on Friday night for the first of three sold-out dates.

Decked out in black slacks, a white tee and a leather waistcoat, he looks less Bruce Springsteen and more like he is about to serve up a pint of plain at his Mullingar local. And wait: Is that actually a dish-drying cloth hanging out of his pocket?!

The instant giveaway that this is not your average Westmeath man is the little superstar gleam in his eye as he arrives to the expected deluge of screams.

It is no exaggeration to say this audience is roughly 95 per cent women. Now in their early- to mid-20s, most were either children or teens when One Direction became the biggest boy band in the world following their 2010 stint on The X Factor.


As Horan launches into Arctic Monkeys-lite Nice to Meet Ya, it’s clear from the ebullient atmosphere that this will be a fun night.

“Good Lord. Compose yourself Ireland. Good evening, Dublin! Welcome to The Show: Live... It’s so good to be home… This will never never never get old,” Horan grins, displaying his Hollywood-approved pearly whites.

During follow-ups On a Night Like Tonight, from latest album The Show, and On the Loose from 2017 debut Flicker, Horan wields his electric guitar with the confidence of someone who has been performing in arenas their entire adult life.

Nevertheless, it is something he doesn’t take for granted, he tells the crowd with sincerity.

The Irish star was unable to tour his sophomore effort, Heartbreak Weather, because of the pandemic.

“We’ve been in preparation for this show for about six years,” he says during a brief pause.

“I just want you to go home happy tonight. That’s your one job… Sing, dance, lose the plot. Just don’t get arrested.”

Horan is joined on stage by his accomplished six-piece band on a stylish set that harks back to 1960s TV variety shows.

It has dramatic pleated curtains and light-up steps. A glitterball is later lowered towards the stage during a cover of One Direction’s Night Changes. The audience belts out the lyrics at full pelt, a constant of the night.

It’s clear that Horan has worked hard to craft the best show possible for his hard-core fan base, as he moves from the main stage to a walkway closer to fans, and from electric guitar to piano and back again.

During The Show’s title track, he takes to the piano, phones like lighters in the air as the crowd sing along to every line.

Niall Horan at the 3Arena
Niall Horan at the 3Arena
Niall Horan at the 3Arena

A major highlight comes in the form of the acoustic section, which sees the 30-year-old’s voice in fine form on hit single This Town and a completely solo version of You Could Start a Cult, which leads to excited rumbles as he debuts his harmonica playing.

Fellow Irish star Dermot Kennedy appears for a surprise duet on his chart hit Outnumbered, to earth-shattering screams.

There is a healthy balance of tracks from all three of Horan’s solo albums throughout, although this new world tour – his biggest by far to date – is named after 2023 offering The Show.

While Harry Styles may be the biggest star post-1D, Horan has steadily honed his craft and quietly carved out an impressive career for himself, including two nights at New York’s legendary Madison Square Garden this June.

There has been a level of controlled hysteria throughout this first Dublin gig, which reaches a fever pitch on Heartbreak Weather’s closing ballad Still.

“I’m still in love with you,” the audience chants in unison towards the stage.

The audience look enraptured as they sway side to side, hands and phones in the air before an encore that features his biggest track, the lust-filled Slow Hands.

“I love you so much, it’s so good to be home. I am the Rose of Tralee!” Horan exclaims, before departing the stage to do it all again twice more this weekend.

He is a credit to his mother, that lad.