Inhaler at The Engine Rooms, Southampton 17.10.2022 with Stone supporting
A Monday night gig in Southampton – another long awaited rearrangement post-Covid, if indeed we are post-Covid. This was a ticket obtained by pre-ordering the first album – It Won’t Always Be Like This – released in July 2021. It’s been a long wait.
In the meantime I have already seen Inhaler twice in 2022: at Glastonbury in the John Peel tent and at Victorious Festival in Southsea. (Links are to songs from each event on my YouTube channel.) Both very good experiences but it isn’t the same as an indoor gig is it? Not for new bands anyway.
Due to an emergency road closure I did a tour of Southampton before arriving at The Engine Rooms later than even the planned lateness and just in time to see support band Stone, from Liverpool, do one song and say thank you and goodnight.
The place is packed, right back to the bar – the commonly seen divider curtain near the mixing desk is not deployed tonight. (Details of The Engine Rooms can be seen on my Engine Rooms venue blog.) We forget any idea of drinking anything and head for the wall to the right and forward of the mixing desk – a good leaning spot, tucked in front of a large bin and so protected from the everlasting flow of barging passers-by. The new replacement pocket zoom can be held aloft here without being in anyone’s way or being hit by flying beer.
When the band comes on there are proper screams, the likes of which I’ve not heard since a reluctant witnessing of a McFly gig about 15 years ago (they were sound..really) – lots of students in by the looks of it and a more mixed audience than some of the ‘lads outings’ I go to.
It’s exciting stuff – a new and well supported band, over from Dublin, after a successful first album and a second – Cuts’n’Bruises – set for release in February 2023.
Tonight the lighting is pretty damn dark, to the point it is pretty hard to make out anyone most of the time, except front man, singer and guitarist Elijah Hewson. (Photos of all the band here in my Victorious Festival blog.)
Yes, I’m sure the fact that Elijah Hewson is Bono’s son was suitably influencing to help me listen to the early releases but they are a great new band with a fine debut album, with six singles taken from it.
Tonight, nine of the 13 song set are from that first album. But first two new ones – still greeted with movement and cheers – before When It Breaks, which I capture on phone video. It really is bouncing and yes it does remind me of the early bouncing days of U2 before it all went a bit stadium and preachy. Indie rock or alternative rock, whatever, it’s good traditional rock’n’roll without gimmicks just good musicians, one great voice, good songs and guitars. There is a touring keyboard player to add to the four main band members.
Elijah is appreciative of this lively audience without saying a great deal. Certainly well worth the trip over to Southampton on this Monday night. After the initial cancellation of this Vanilo Records organised event and repeated queries regarding rearrangement getting nowhere for ages, it is something of a relief and surprise to get here, before Inhaler are catapulted to stardom and bigger venues…surely.
The set – around an hour all told this one – winds up with the title track of the first album It Won’t Always Be Like This and then Cheer Up Baby: cue euphoric leaping, people on shoulders and concerned security. A break, crowd roars and the return. A slow new one first to calm everyone for the inevitable… the big single.”C’mon let’s do this shall we…..eh” cries Elijah… and with the opening bars of My Honest Face the place goes nuts.
Good luck lads. See you again soon.