On Thursday 19th August, The Mic was stranded at the back of Colours, Hoxton. An eager sea of fans filled the intimate venue - all eagerly waiting for Irish indie-rock darlings 'Inhaler'. Alex Melnikov and Tristan Phipps give their thoughts on the show as post-pandemic gigging returns.
From starting off in small clubs around the country, Inhaler have fast become one of the hottest names in UK indie. Drawing influence from a varied palette, spanning from New Order, Depeche Mode, to Metallica, the boys have honed their sound to great acclaim. With early support from Noel Gallagher and strong backing from top BBC tastemakers, Inhaler were becoming just a bit more than ‘ones to watch’. With debut album It Won’t Always Be Like This soaring to the top of the charts, becoming the first Irish band to achieve the feat since The Script in 2008, it is more evident than ever that Inhaler are on a fast upward trajectory. What better time to check in on the talented four-piece than half-way through their album tour?
''Since knocking the socks off everyone at The Bodega last March, Blondes have soared to unimaginable heights''
With Inhaler fast becoming the poster boys for the country’s indie-rock circuit, a supreme support act is required. Thankfully, we were in the company of Nottingham rockers ‘Blondes’: a band who, for readers of this magazine at least, need no introduction. Since knocking the socks off everyone at The Bodega last March, Blondes have soared to unimaginable heights. After dreamy anthem Coming Of Age went viral, the boys secured an impressive support slot for Stereophonics at Scarborough Open Air Arena, swiftly followed by the announcement that they would be playing alongside Sports Team and Courting this coming autumn on their UK tour.
As Blondes took to the stage, we pushed through the venue, soaking in the buzz. For many fans, this was the first gig back, but a fair few around us were gearing up to see Inhaler and Blondes for the second or third time this week. It was immediately evident that Blondes’ reputation preceded them: we were in for a treat.
Bursting into life, Blondes wooed the crowds with new single Street Fight: an immersive, synth laden soundscape cushioning frontman Will’s soft vocals perfectly. A soothing opener to the show, but a gripping one too. Blondes looked to have managed the step up with ease as their creations, old and new, captivated the audience early on. Wasting little time, the band rose the tempo with Minimum Wage. Wonderfully dance inducing with a sing-a-long chorus, Minimum Wage is a festival hit in the making - perfect for their performances at both Reading and Leeds Festivals. Aside from the singles, Blondes treated the audience to some unreleased material. While the name is unknown, the mantra ‘Take off your t-shirt // Get out the neighbourhood’ will stay long in the memory. Unlike previous supports, the band didn’t encourage the audience to lose their shirts. Although the crowd remained fully clothed, the atmosphere remained rocking as they headed towards the end of their set.
Unsurprisingly, hit single Coming Of Age was a treat, pouring with the youthful buoyancy now expected from this four-piece. Confidently sung by Will, and dynamically played out by the rest of the band, it was clear to see this band have been putting in the work and are ready for what's around the corner. The onus is now on us to make sure we can keep up.
''The upbeat synths and anthemic stadium sound turned an intimate venue into what felt like an arena''
With Blondes already getting the crowd well and truly in the mood, kicking things off would be no problem whatsoever for the main act of the night. Opening with the album’s title track It Won’t Always Be Like This, Inhaler got the crowd going instantly. The upbeat synths and anthemic stadium sound turned an intimate venue into what felt like an arena, complete with plenty of arms stretched aloft from those sat on shoulders. Even in an intimate setting, there is no doubt Inhaler are a band destined for the big arenas.
Frontman Elijah Hewson gave off an aura of confidence and was so self-assured, you’d be forgiven for thinking he had the experience of his father, Bono, rather than touring a debut album. Their second song of the night My Honest Face exemplified this perfectly, giving a darker, more angsty edge to their fast tempo riffs and capitalising on the liveliness of the crowd created by the opener.
Playing their album in its entirety, the reception it received from the audience throughout showed that the critics were right on the money and that Inhaler have risen to the mainstream indie consciousness so quickly. It’s an evening packed to the brim with fun and playful riffs which continues with Slide Out The Window and Cheer Up Baby, capping off an amazing opening which delivered four high quality singles.
As in the album, the sheer quality of the opening songs exposes the slightly weaker middle order of songs in the set. However, by this point the crowd had already been won over long ago and they sailed through with My King Will Be Kind and When it Breaks being particular highlights.
In My Sleep brought the energy back into the room, giving an aggressive and angry sound to end the set. The range of songs Inhaler have after a single album and their ability to seamlessly transition from upbeat tunes such as It Won’t Always Be Like This to My Honest Face, which the band repeated in a short encore to close the gig in triumphant fashion, showcase a band with an incredibly bright future ahead of them. Just like Blondes, this is simply the start of greater things for the Dublin quartet.
Written by: Alex Melnikov and Tristan Phipps
Edited by: Amrit Virdi
Featured image courtesy of Inhaler via Facebook.