I can imagine that Inhaler’s leading man, Eli Hewson, hates hearing it, but during his concert at Irving Plaza — a venue that his father once graced — he sure resembled his dad. For those that don’t know, Eli is the son of U2’s frontman, Bono. Yes, the band that put an album on your iTunes account is now old enough to have children at the age that they started out. Inhaler, after
years of singles releases, finally put out a full album, titled “It Won’t Always Be Like This,” last summer (the CD is still in the first slot of my car’s player). Now they are embarking on their first headlining tour and have just wrapped up their North American dates. I was lucky enough to catch their show at Irving Plaza last Monday, and what a night it was.
When Inhaler took the stage, the energy in Irving Plaza rose exponentially when the opening synthesizer from“It Won’t Always Be Like This” — the titular track from their debut album — hit. Keeping the momentum going, the band went into the fast-paced “We Have to Move On,” a single that wasn’t on their debut album. The same goes for “Ice Cream Sundae,” which is one of
the band’s lighter songs.
The whole band is great, but shoutout to drummer Ryan McMahon, who deserves a lot of credit for keeping the beat steady. A drummer has one of the hardest jobs in the band, and McMahon never faltered. As a bass player, I also appreciated Robert Keating, whose bass line in “In My Sleep” is the best part of the song. Out of all of the band members, Keating is by far the most active on stage; standing close to the fans and interacting with McMahon on a few occasions.
Unlike some younger groups, Inhaler looks like a well-oiled machine on stage. They’ve been playing together for years, but an almost spotless performance is worth noting. Mistakes are kept to a minimum, and it’s impressive how much the band connects with the audience and each other. Eli has the audience in the palm of his hand — much like his father — and can have people hoppin’ and boppin’ to “Who’s Your Money On? (Plastic House)” and lovers swaying to “Totally.” This is not a criticism of other young bands — being on stage is not an easy task — but you’d swear that Inhaler was as experienced as the Goo Goo Dolls if not for their babyfaces.
Perhaps the only criticism of their show is that it’s a bit short. The band plays for roughly an hour, and that’s including the entirety of their debut album (with the exception of “A Strange Time to Be Alive,” an interlude) and a couple of non-album singles (“We Have to Move On” and “Ice Cream Sundae”). They don’t have a lot of other released songs to play, but “Falling In” was
Just over 20 years ago, in anticipation of their new album, “All That You Can’t Leave Behind,” U2 played a promotional show at Irving Plaza. It’s now amazing to see Bono’s son, who was likely a toddler when his father played there, headline a show there with a crowd of rabid fans of his group. Bono was there in-person, and I’m still kicking myself for missing a chance to meet the Irish legend. And while Inhaler certainly benefits from having the Bono connection (Eli smartly goes by his real name and not “Bono Jr.”), they are talented with or without that connection. Greta Van Fleet is here to save the 70s rock and the spirits of Led Zeppelin; Inhaler is here to save the 80s punk rock scene and spirits of The Cure, The Smiths, and Joy Division. Inhaler is a band still on the rise, and their status as such will only last so long. As the name of their debut album and opening track on their album suggests, “it won’t always be like this,” and they’re going to become a household name sooner than later.