Inhaler at Fairview Park, Dublin, on Saturday, 25th June 2022
Let’s face it, no other Irish band has to deal with the type of prejudgements that Inhaler does. You’ll never hear anybody comment that Domhnall Gleeson only got the part because of his father’s connections. In fact, you’re more likely to hear them being praised for building a family dynasty and yet, no matter what Elijah Hewson and Inhaler do, for many, it will only be because of Bono.
And there’s some truth in that, but perhaps not in the negative way the masses view it. How could you grow up around one of the world’s most successful touring bands and not learn about sound desks, amplifiers, effects, chord progressions and stagecraft by osmosis. Elijah Hewson was clearly paying attention, especially when it comes to stagecraft, as he looks completely at ease in front of 5,000 people in a sold-out Fairview Park – one of only three shows in the venue’s inaugural run to do so.
Whatever your take on the rise of Inhaler, there’s something quite beautiful about seeing 5,000 Irish people in a tent to see a fully Irish line-up that includes Kynsy and NewDad, who are regarded among the most promising new acts in the country. We saw both acts in Whelan’s in recent months and even in that short space of time, there has been a clear development in both; no doubt down to playing regularly on the festival circuit.
Kynsy’s spikey brand of indie pop has always marked Ciara Lyndsey out from the crowd. The melodically astute songwriter has steadily grown into the frontperson role, viscerally occupying the Jarvis Cocker-esque storytelling lyrical refrains of Cold Blue Light, Mr. Nice Guy and the pulsating New Year like never before. It clearly won’t be long until Kynsy is appearing in front of such crowds under her own steam.
Similarly, Galway’s NewDad are a band on a rise, having delivered two critically-acclaimed EPs and capturing the hearts of international radio stations such as BBC6 and KEXP in the process. It’s easy to see why their brand of shoegaze is resonating with younger and older fans alike thanks to the classic mix of darkly sweet tales of teenage angst and dynamic wash of shimmering melodies.
Inhaler, meanwhile, bookend their set with their two biggest singles to date – the anthemic It Won’t Always Be Like This and My Honest Face. The accomplished ‘80s throwback sound of the accidental pandemic anthem instantly displays that they understand how to feed radio exactly what it wants. It would be churlish to criticise Elijah for sounding like his father (it’s an affliction many of us suffer from), but the inflections are undeniable.
Josh Jenkinson makes a fair stab at shifting the spotlight with some nice guitar moments dotted throughout the set, while the rhythm section of Ryan McMahon and Robert Keating also prove they are far from window dressing.
Much like Kings of Leon, however, Inhaler are heavily stylised and midway through the set, the songs start to feel like they are bleeding together. This will no doubt sort itself out in the future as the band release more albums but for now, while they have the skill and presence to hold 5,000 people’s attention, they remain a few songs short of possessing a headline set. As new single These Are The Days proves, there are more hooks on the horizon.
As a wise young man once said, “It won’t always be like this“. It will be interesting to see how an Inhaler setlist reads after the release of album number two. For now, though, Inhaler are much better than most people will ever give them credit for being; just still not fully realised. Like every other band on album number one, there’s definitely more to come.