Inhaler, The Forum, Kentish Town, 6th October 2021
On 12 July 1987, I bunked out of school to see U2. This was a big deal as:
a) I was a goodie two shoes
b) this was my second gig following my cherry breaking Level 42 show in April that year. Don’t get me wrong, L42 was great fun. But it was not cool. U2, supported by Pretenders, Spear Of Destiny and World Party was COOL
c) I went with my friend Michael, his brother Jamie and their older sister Sharon. I had a little crush on Sharon, but did nothing about it. I blushed a lot though and remember being very embarrassed.
U2 were spectacular, political, revolutionary and I will write about the experience at some point. It set me on a gig going path that has cost me a small fortune over the years…
Children of the revolution
Fast forward 34 and a bit years. I am on the tube from work to Kentish Town. I realise I am surrounded by young women excitedly discussing the gig. I feel old. Really, REALLY old.
Inhaler are fronted by U2 singer Bono’s son, Elijah. Why I feel the need to explain who Bono is reflects my feelings about my fellow travellers on the tube. I suspect they don’t know this snippet of pop trivia and don’t care a jot. They just like Inhaler. And that’s wonderful.
Me? I am 51 and have loved U2 for 37 years (with a brief time off after the rather invasive free album on my iPod bollocks from a few years ago - marketing creativity replaced musical creativity. Not great).
I find myself daydreaming is this some mid eighties dynasty developing…Will Inhaler develop a rivalry with the bands of the children of Jim Kerr from Simple Minds or Mike Scott from The Waterboys? I am seeing Johnny Marr’s son Nile in a fortnight, will he start a bitchy war of words with them? Is there a Bunnychild out there who will say how much better their band is than Inhaler? The mind boggles.
Back from the world of dreams, I meet my friends in The Assembly House by Kentish Town tube. We catch up and gossip. Vincent is French, younger than me and can shrug better than anyone I know. Rob is slightly older, looks cool, slim, and wears a discreet Clash t-shirt. Clash City Rockers - Middle Aged Rockers would be a fairer description of us, but it’s all good.
As we join the queue of Rosé-swigging Inhaler fans, one of our party realises they don’t have their COVID pass - disaster. Much faffing, searching for passwords, codes texted and finally this is rectified - it’s hard to get into a gig these days! Fair play to the venue for checking though.
Despite our delayed entry, we get in just in time to see the end of support band Wet Leg, who have one single out, the splendid Chaise Longue - it’s great! Two chords and the youth, to paraphrase Harlan Howard (look it up!). Pseudo punky nonchalance at its best.
Beer is procured and we find our spot. The demographic is exactly as we expected:
20% old fellas like us who loved U2
80% young Inhaler fans - crop tops, spray on jeans, pseudo mullets, sockless, sleeveless and wearing less (the 80s are really back)
a good half of the above are Irish or second/third generation paddies by the chat
Inhaler appear and are fabulous, blasting out the title track from their debut album, It Won’t Always Be Like This (reviewed here). They motor through 13 songs with little let up and real urgency. And they connect.
The audience adore them. Shoulders are sat on, flags are waved, air is punched, lyrics are sung and choruses are bellowed…I want to avoid the U2 comparison but it’s hard. The above sounds remarkably like a description of the U2 gig I went to in 87. Elijah even has a sleeveless T-shirt and big hair. The bass player has a mullet….
Who’s Your Money On? (Plastic House) is the standout for me, a belting electro rocker that segues into a gentle acoustic, trippy coda. Elijah sounds more Jeff Buckley/Thom Yorke than his old fella. A good way to develop his style.
Cheer Up Baby and My Honest Face bring matters to a storming close, with a sharp stop. No encore, leave ‘em wanting.
As we wander out, we are passed by shiny, sweaty, happy people. There are swoons, smiles, some drunken staggering - as I said, it’s all good.
Seeing U2 set me on a path to see New Order, Simple Minds, The Waterboys, and so many many more bands. I sit on the tube home wondering who the fans of Inhaler will see next and envy them. It’s all new and exciting for them.
Don’t get me wrong, it’s still exciting now for me (I wrote most of this on the tube him and nearly missed my stop I was so busy typing). But seeing a band will never quite be as all-consuming as it was at 18, life gets in the way. I hope they are off seeing The Murder Capital, The Clockworks, Vistas, Sea Girls, The Magic Gang.
I will be seeing them all too. Just at the back, my jeans firmly not spray on and definitely not swigging an Instagram friendly Rosé.