Image provided by Chuff Media
Irish quartet Inhaler gained traction last year when they placed fifth in BBC’s Sound of 2020 music poll —an annual selection of promising, up-and-coming artists as judged by 170 industry insiders. Over a year and a half later, Inhaler might likely be the next big thing to look out for, as they once again proved at O2 Forum Kentish Town on the 6th of October.
I’ve had my eye on Inhaler for a while now—not only because of the catchy singles they put out, but, partially, because I was fascinated by the rapid speed in which they accumulated masses of diehard fans. Mostly, I was (and still am) curious about Elijah Hewson—the band’s barely twenty-two-year-old frontman, and the son of Paul Hewson, better known as U2’s Bono.
Knowing that second-generation celebrities tend to be hit-or-miss, it’s easy to half-expect another overhyped industry baby, but there’s much more to Inhaler than U2’s legacy. As their promising debut album, It Won’t Always Be Like This indicates, Inhaler knows their music. The album is full of high-energy songs with classic rock references, strong drumlines, and simple but memorable lyrics that are great through headphones and are even better live. From the title track, ‘It Won’t Always Be Like This,’ to ‘Cheer Up Baby’ and ‘Who’s Your Money On?,’ Inhaler is just pure rock fun.
To say that Hewson’s background is irrelevant to Inhaler’s success would be to entirely ignore systemic circles of privilege, but it’s quite safe to say that ‘Bono’s son’s band’ would likely rise to fame regardless. Inhaler simply has what it takes, from the wholesome story of a teen garage band to absolutely hit-worthy songs and highly infectable enthusiasm. Hewson is pretty much a picture-perfect rockstar in his own right, with the energy, charisma, looks, and voice. With a remarkable band of Robert Keating on bass, Josh Jenkinson on guitar, and Ryan McMahon on drums, Inhaler is guaranteed to move crowds.
And boy, do they move crowds.
The show at Forum was everything a rock concert should be: deafeningly loud, blindingly lit up, and slightly terrifying in its intensity. During shows, the band doesn’t talk much, but they surely know how to work a crowd. The band took the audience with them, making them dance, scream, and throw expensive pints of beer in the air. ‘It might be the biggest room we’ve ever played,’ Hewson said earnestly around the middle of the set, and when the crowd went absolutely insane it felt like you might have witnessed music history in the making.
While it was abundantly clear that the crowd was there for Inhaler first and foremost, there is definitely something to be said for the supporting acts as well. The promisingly young Scottish, singer-songwriter Dylan Fraser and the newly signed, fem duo Wet Leg, both gave memorable performances, and might soon follow Inhaler into stardom.
I went to watch Inhaler play at Kentish Town mostly out of sheer curiosity and left a fan. So far they look neither overhyped, nor just an industry baby, but a fresh air in the young indie pop-rock music scene. A band with an idea and a drive. A band that’s here to stay.