LIVE REVIEW: Inhaler, O2 Forum Kentish Town, 06/10/2021
It feels like music has reached a golden age of iconic musician’s children flying the nest and breaking out with their own bands. Whether that be Ultra Q’s Jakob Armstrong, the son of Green Day’s Billie Joe Armstrong or in this instance, U2 legend Bono’s lad Elijah Hewson of Inhaler are leading the way for the next generation of bands leaving the status of their parent’s legacy behind and forging their very own destiny to successful effect. Breaking through with their number one debut album It Won’t Always Be Like This back in July, ever since this Dublin four piece made up further of Robert Keating, Josh Jenkinson and Ryan McMahon have gone on to be booked for massive festival slots this summer at Reading & Leeds and TRNSMT, alongside a headlining tour in support of their first full-length. When this band stepped on stage to play London’s O2 Forum Kentish Town on their extensive UK run, it was clear that Inhaler are rockstars in their own right.
Getting proceedings well underway, support slots came courtesy of Dylan Fraser and Wet Leg, both acts setting the electric atmosphere alight and warming up a Kentish Town crowd to welcome the Dublin based band centre stage.
After a frenzy of flashing lights, which drummed up a raucous reception and sea of waving Irish flags for the Dublin outfit, Inhaler stepped on stage to opener and title track taken from their number one debut It Won’t Always Be Like This. An outpour erupts, as lead vocalist Elijah Hewson breathes “And we’re back baby,” even with the band coming off the back of a successful run of festivals and a sold-out London headliner two months prior, it still never felt so good. Throughout the remainder of the track, the crowd hung onto every woozy guitar riff and every lyrical word, shouting back the chorus with heightened levels of enthusiasm “You’re in my head/It won’t always be like this, be like this/Again, honey, I’ll be dead/It won’t always be like this, always be like this.”
“Kentish Town, you never looked so good,” compliments Hewson, before the band begins a roll of old-school Inhaler songs such as Falling In and Ice Cream Sundae. Frontrunners as fan favourites from the night and some songs of key significance to the band’s career. The latter, Ice Cream Sundae marks the first ever song Inhaler came to London to record, as Eli reminisces before delving into the mellow indie-pop sawyer, “This next one is the first song we ever recorded in London” making this gig tonight feel like a home away from home homecoming show of sorts for Inhaler, one that clearly and visibly means a lot to the Dublin four piece.
A hue of smoky coloured lights against a spray-painted Inhaler backdrop loom behind the band, as they burst into a roll of It Won’t Always Be Like This album staples. From the ethereal Slide Out The Window, featuring cool as ice guitar riffs by Josh Jenkinson, the energetic and electric When It Breaks, the groove and funk induced Who’s Your Money On? (Plastic House), the slinky and sophisticated style of My King Will Be Kind and the soaring Totally.
Cheer Up Baby and My Honest Face, arguably two of the biggest tunes in Inhaler’s short armour of songs round off the bands time in Kentish Town. Cheer Up Baby opens with a guitar riff, guaranteed to rile up the Forum’s packed-out crowd and a joyous chorus that got everyone in that room chiming. Closer My Honest Face soars to new heights, as a belter of an indie rock anthem gets feet off the floor, Elijah Hewson singing “I can look good in a certain light/So don’t look too closely at me tonight,” and “But there’s just a certain culture when you’re young/When you’re young,” echoing even more meaning tonight that originally intended for the studio recording of the song. 2,000 people’s eyes look on closely at a band who stand tall as rockstars and future festival headliners in the making. The Inhaler world domination statement emblazoned across an Irish flag which Hewson holds at the end of the band’s set felt like a fitting statement of intent for a band cementing themselves as firm favourites in the indie-rock scene.
Written by: Katie Conway-Flood