The Black Keys // Circa Waves // Live Review // The 3Arena // Dublin

The Black Keys returned triumphantly to Dublin after 12 long years with a stellar performance at the 3Arena on Friday night. With their latest full-length album ‘Ohio Players’ fresh off the press, the band indulged an enthused Irish audience with a set packed to the brim with hits, epics, guitar solos and singalongs, including play-throughs of some new material.

With the band’s social media alight with images of the duo’s antics in the city during two preceding days off, Guinness aplenty, drummer Patrick Carney and guitarist/vocalist  Dan Auerbach also took the opportunity to host their signature ‘Record Hang’ DJ set at the Grand Social bar on Liffey St. An event that saw the pair spin 7” 45rpm vinyl records from their personal collections to a packed dance floor.

Liverpudlian indie act Circa Waves opened the concert with an amplified extravaganza leaning into the best aspects of club circuit indie rock. Catchy hooks and coordinated riffing meant the band were somewhat at home at a Black Keys show, though their energy may translate better in a more intimate setting, their sound was bold enough to fill the room.

Frantic drum fills accompanied an identifiable scouse inflexion, the group demonstrated a tight and engaged interplay onstage, coming together to perform ‘Fire That Burns’ a rousing, impactful tune showcasing honed songwriting ability.

The band’s key hit ‘T-Shirt Weather’ engaged in vivid story-telling, with a relatable and optimistic air hinting towards impending summer vibes this year (hopefully).



The current mystique of The Black Keys oozes coolness with every step, noticeable as the pair strode onto the 3Arena stage, snuffing out cigarettes en route. As Auerbach strapped on his Harmony H78 hollow body guitar, the first in a revolving door of custom classic guitars the player brought along for the ride, the hum of the amplifiers behind him stirred up, generating a palpable sense of excitement amongst guitar nerds and casual fans alike.

Surprising the crowd early on with uber-hit ‘Gold on the Ceiling’ playing second in the set, the full scale of the band’s production then came to life, with glistening golden light pouring out from behind the band, and tiled video screens illuminating with semi-psychedelic visuals.

With deep cuts largely left to the wayside in place of a much-demanded back catalogue of hits, a clear hardcore fan favourite of the evening was ‘Weight of Love’, from the occasionally overlooked 2014 LP ‘Turn Blue’. Featuring gigantic solos and heart-wrenching lyrics, it was a poignant moment in an otherwise raucous set, and lived up to the true definition of an epic, especially as volumes of the audience sang along to every note of Auerbach’s soaring guitar solo, as well as every word.

‘Ohio Players’ tracks ‘Only Love That Matters’ and ‘On The Game’, both co-written by Noel Gallagher were more restrained affairs when compared to the rest of the set, however did allow the band to demonstrate the full extent of their focus and maturity to songwriting in 2024. Now venturing from the boundaries of conventional garage blues rock, the tracks speak to a higher tier of production and craftsmanship, almost soundtrack-like in their delivery, but still anthemic and catchy.

A moody rendition of Marvin Gaye’s ‘I Heard it Through the Grapevine’ came towards the end of the band’s main set, the performance of which demonstrated a parallel between classic soul and blues and Auerbach’s own songwriting sensibility. Hearing a classic that many knew like the back of their hand but in Auerbach’s sultry tone illustrated the extent of his vocal ability, perhaps marking his voice as a signature sound of our own age.

With it’s closing bars approaching, Carney watched his colleague like a hawk over his modest but glittering drum kit, waiting for subtle clues for the song’s finale, giving a sense of improvisation to their performance, one certainly not cued to a click track or backing tape.

Closing out with the monumental anthem ‘Little Black Submarines’, the only song in The Black Keys repertoire capable of following this was ‘Lonely Boy’, rewarding the crowd with an opportunity to sing out and dance away what energy they had remaining.


Photography + Review : Mike Lockhart @ First3Only