With all the recent talk about Ireland’s burgeoning rock scene, Inhaler are becoming notable for their absence in the conversation.
The music press are keen to band the likes of Fontaines DC, The Murder Capital and Just Mustard into a scene, even adding the likes of Silverbacks, Thumper and Odd Morris to the broader collection of names. Why does it seem, then, that Inhaler have been omitted from these lists, despite hitting streaming figures that rival the top Irish artists before their debut album is even announced?
The queue that congregates outside of the Central London venue certainly doesn’t carry the uniformed aesthetic or mysterious exclusivity of any type of ‘scene’. Sockless teens in spray-on jeans and plimsoles wait patiently on the pavement alongside U2 die-hards in their 50s, eager to catch a glimpse of Bono’s son – Elijah Hewson, who fronts Inhaler.
A pre-show playlist, soundtracking fans’ anticipation inside the venue, offers a slightly clearer articulation of who the night is for; with Stone Roses and other monsters of jangly Indie-Pop spurring singalongs amongst the awaiting crowd – many of whom are financing the evening on the twenty pound note their Dad has lent them.
By the time Inhaler are playing their second track of the night, audience members are clambering upon eachothers shoulders and a barrage of phone screens penetrate the airspace above the crowd.
Each track – many of which are not released – lands with as strong a reception as the last; from the simple, Blossoms-esque keys of ‘Ice Cream Sunday’, to their biggest track, ‘My Honest Face’, which sits somewhere between Only By the Night and the catchy promise that Catfish and the Bottlemen‘s first album offered.
Every inch of the evening teeters between stereotype and archetype; Guitarists with jackets, but no t-shirts shred solos. Fan clap-alongs assist in building to the final chorus crescendo. This is all the Get-Him-To-The-Greek rock stuff which sold us the dream in the first place, the pantomime shit that used to make us excited about seeing a band at the age of eighteen.
The gaggle of middle-aged viewers who have come to curiously check out the spawn of Bono will soon dissipate – it already appears that they are being squeezed out by Inhaler fanatics, towards the back of the crowd, pass the merch stand and, eventually, to the kerb. Give Inhaler a year, and they could comfortably tear the roof off of a Truck or Community Fest, and maybe turn some heads at a lunchtime slot on Glastonbury’s Other Stage, on their own merit.
It’s probably fair to say, at any rate, that Inhaler are not going to be considered central to a ‘scene’ or ‘new breed‘ of any sorts, which needn’t be a bad thing. The ensemble feel fully accessible to their fans, singing catchy songs that ooze optimism – far too bombastic and happy-go-lucky to sit beside the Post-Punk movements of Fontaines or the Murder Capital.
Inhaler seem to tap in to a whole side of the Indie-verse that many of us have disregarded. The 4-piece sing boyish songs that connect instantly and effortlessly with their audience, without convoluting their setlist with attempts to be overly complicated or evasive. This is a band who are yet to release an EP, yet have harnessed a real sense of meaning between their fanbase and these chorus hooks, in some kind of bizarre mashup of Oasis and… One Direction?
Many will scoff at the thought, but the baton of a crowd-pleasing, Indie boyband who truly incite frenzy in an fanbase is not an easy one to grip. We see tens, maybe hundreds of skinny-jeaned hopefuls rise and fall every year, from Drowners, to VANT, and the science of perfecting this has rarely been seen since the mid-noughties renaissance of the genre.
Inhaler may not push the genre into any particularly radical directions, but it isn’t in their remit to. The takeaway message from this evening is that it is well worth attending an Inhaler show. There is a nineteen-year-old next to me, losing his shit with a jumper tied around his waist, and there is nobody here to tell him that this isn’t Knebworth, 1996.. and why should there be?