Wednesday, October 13, 2021

My Honest Take: Inhaler Triumph in Manchester

Inhaler completed their UK tour with true aplomb, playing to a full house at the 02 Ritz in Manchester, they confirmed their place as an indie powerhouse.

People say that if you go to see a band on tour, you should go half way through. The set list will be solidified and nerves will have dispersed, plus fatigue will have yet to set in. 

Inhaler however showed no signs of letting up – despite frontman Elijah Hewson saying half way through that the band were beginning to feel the strain. He thanked the crowd – who were on fine form – for giving the band much needed energy, and the band - in turn - gave the audience plenty to be frantic about.


The Irish-band was supported by Dylan Fraser Wet Leg. 

Dylan showcased his angsty, techno infused power anthems to a rapturous response from the audience. Though his set was short on songs, his monologues between them showed that this young man is soaking up every moment. Wet Leg boast some of the filthiest lyrics going right now. Their two releases ‘Chaise Longue’ and ‘Wet Dream’ are fine examples of this, but their whole set could’ve made Cardi B blush with embarrassment. I was at once both laughing and tapping my foot along to the infectious groove that Wet Leg showcase effortlessly. If you need an apt comparison - think Goat Girl meets Dream Wife after reading some Rochester poems. 

We had angst, then we had filth, then it was Inhaler’s turn. And what did they have? Class. They opened up with ‘It Won’t Always Be Like This’ from their debut album of the same name – and a song that I had the pleasure to review previously. Nothing was lost in the translation from record to stage. I compared it in that review to “a quiet moment at a party when everything is right”, here, it was far from quiet, but everything was right. It’s a party that I don’t see ending anytime soon.


The rise of this band is truly incredible – they’ve had some help along the way, but regardless, their chemistry on stage is pay off enough. They play like they haven’t changed anything; that larger venues and adoring fans have just appeared at a never ending jam session. They are effortlessly charismatic without saying a lot. They’re well oiled, without sounding stale. This may sound like hyperbole, but I was in constant awe of them.


The crowd didn’t need constant interaction to be kept on side either. I don’t think this is lost on the band, but they gave the audience there moment in the spotlight too, as any band worth their salt should. During ‘The King Will Be Kind’, Elijah stepped away from the microphone to allow the audience to sing unfiltered, the rather on the nose line “I fucking hate that bitch”.  

To know a band is capable of getting 1,500 people to chant that line is telling, and if it is directed at anyone, that person would feel suitably ‘told’. One hopes that it is just an angsty lyric, but the power of the crowd’s delivery certainly made me worry that I’d stood on guitarist Josh Jenkinson’s foot at some point in my life.

There were fan favourites such as non-album singles ‘Ice Cream Sundae’ and ‘We Have To Move On’ as well as new classics such as ‘Slide Out The Window’ and the infectious ‘My Honest Face’ to round off the night. With every song, whether highly streamed on Spotify or deep cut, they never lost the audience. 


I have worried that post-pandemic, I’m viewing concerts in a different light. It does seem – at the few I’ve been to at least – that everyone is enjoying themselves. I’ve worried that this is what Prince warned when he sang that we must “party like it’s 1999”. Did he mean post-pandemic? Do people worry that we have to make the most of it, for it’ll be gone again soon?


I guess time will tell, and so will the artists. I feel more reassured however, that thanks to the remarkable set Inhaler gave at the Ritz, I have no need to worry. Maybe it’s a strange one to hope that bad gigs are still a thing in this post lockdown world, but it’s nice to know the pandemic has not affected one of the most promising bands of their generation.


Tom Pritchard



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