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Gig Review: Inhaler

Zara Hearnden writes about her night at in Leeds experiencing the young Rock band.

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Image Credit: Zara Hearnden

Following the footsteps of a famous parent can come with pressure and scrutiny, and Inhaler’s frontman Elijah Hewson knows this better than anyone. Son of U2’s famous Bono, Hewson has just embarked on his own journey as an Irish rockstar, recently touring the UK for Inhaler’s debut number one album It Won’t Always Be Like This’ The band, formed between 2012 and 2015, is made up of Hewson, Josh Jenkinson (lead guitar), Ryan MacMahon (drums) and Robert Keating (bass).

Inhaler kicked off their tour in Yorkshire (as they should), with their second night being at the O2 Academy in Leeds. As expected of a rock band with all members being just 22 years old, most of their fans appeared to be late teens/early twenties, bringing with them an explosion of youthful energy. Believe me, it got very sweaty! Hewson has said in the past that he’s glad that the Inhaler fanbase is so young because it means they won’t necessarily compare him with his famous father, but maybe it’s because of the enthusiastic reception they get at every venue.

From the moment the band sauntered on stage, it was evident that performing live was as natural to them as a fish is to water. Everything about their attitude and interaction with the audience exuded a cool confidence, as if they had been touring for decades, which hopefully they will. It made it easy to forget just how young they are themselves, and how much more they can give as a band beyond their debut album.

The set was arranged perfectly, beginning with the energetic title track ‘It Won’t Always Be Like This’ which has certainly gained a different meaning since the Covid-19 pandemic began. During the song, Hewson threw himself into the crowd much to the delight of the screaming girls at the front (and who could blame them really?). The band kept the energy going with the next couple of songs, ‘We Have To Move On’ and ‘Falling In’, before slowing down with the calmer yet instrumentally more complex ‘Slide Out The Window’, featuring catchy synths and mellower guitars. The rest of the set that followed was mostly playful, high-energy guitar-dominated tunes which has become their characteristic sound. It is clear that they take inspiration from bands such as Joy Division, and also Blossoms, who they had previously supported in North America.

The fan favourites of the show, quite predictably, included ‘It Won’t Always Be Like This’, ‘Cheer Up Baby’ and of course ‘My Honest Face’ which was saved for last. ‘My Honest Face’ happens to be one of their most popular songs with an explosive chorus that never seems to get old, and the band seem to think so too considering they keep re-releasing it (with no complaints from me)!

One of the highlights of the show ended up being the whole of the O2 chanting “Yorkshire! Yorkshire!” in true Yorkshire spirit, which the band later posted that they had accidentally misinterpreted as “You’re S**T!” Hopefully that won’t have put them off from returning to Leeds for their next tour…

Inhaler certainly know how to put on a show despite their youth and a pandemic getting in the way. Part of their debut success perhaps comes down to their sincerity and knowledge of what it takes to get far in the music industry. So yes, perhaps a famous rockstar dad has helped Inhaler along the way, but nobody can dispute that the band have shown real talent and a sound of their own. With enchanting guitar riffs and enthusiastic drums, as well as Irish charm of course, it is evident that they will grow more successful and become solid names in the indie rock/pop genre.

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