Inhaler• w/ Sun Room •March 28, 2023• The Complex

Reviewed by Kevin Rolfe

Photographed by Lewis Evans

Inhaler is a Dublin-based Irish Rock band.  It’s funny because when I learned about this band I immediately liked them.  I thought I was super cool because I found this young band on their assent.  I acted like I basically discovered them.  Well turns out I’m a little late to the Inhaler discovery group.  They have two albums already, both charted number 1 in Ireland, and their most recent release Cuts & Bruises was number one in the UK as well.  No small feat.  And not only that, but this would be their second trip to Salt Lake City in as many years.  So while I do feel like I’m catching onto their comet early, it’s not quite as early as I thought.

In the weeks leading up to Inhaler’s show at The Grand in The Complex, I saw a lot of advertisements throughout social media and elsewhere.  This made me concerned that maybe the show wasn’t selling well and they needed more promotion to fill up the room.  Whether or not that was true, I was happy to see that when I walked into The Grand, it was a full room.  It has to be the weirdest feeling to come to a place so far from home and see a venue full of people who like your music.

Sun Room

The show started off with support band, Sun Room.  Upon first listen, I was sure they were from England.  But come to find out they’re actually from around my old stomping grounds, Southern California.  Their music crosses generations with a 60s British Invasion mixed with a 90s Brit Pop sound.  Think The Kinks and Blur in one band. 

Being an opener can be a tricky thing.  You’re not who the crowd came to see, and the sooner you’re off stage, the sooner the band everyone came to see will take the stage.  If it was me I’d be very intimidated by those facts.  But Sun Room took the stage and performed as if they were the headliners.  Full of confidence and energy they commanded the room and clearly won the attention and respect of the crowd.  People seemed to really get into the set.  Especially with songs like, “Sol Del Sur”, “Fun”, and their closer “ Cadilac” from their just released EP Outta Their Minds.  The opener’s job is to warm up the audience.  Sun Room fittingly did that. 

As the crew set up the stage for Inhaler I could feel the anticipation from the young audience.  The fans seemed intent on celebrating the Irish roots of Inhaler.  One girl had a green St. Patrick’s Day hat on.  Another group held a sign saying “Kiss Me I’m Irish”.  I also noticed a large number of cowboy hats, some with lights or fringe on them.  I wasn’t sure what that was about. It wasn’t until after the show after most of these hats had been thrown on the stage that I learned from some fans that it was somewhat of a tradition for fans to show up in hats and throw them at the band hoping one of them would wear one.  As the band walked off stage frontman, Elijah Hewson did put one on.


Photo Credit: Lewis Evans

I’ve listened to the albums, I’ve heard good things about the live show, but there I was finally getting my chance to see them in person.  I must say that the setup between bands seemed to take longer than many would have expected.  I’m not sure if there were issues with the setup or if that’s just how long it takes, but it felt long.  The crowd was getting restless.  But do you know what cures that restlessness immediately?  The band walking on stage. The moment the lights dimmed and Inhaler walked on stage, no one thought about how long they had been waiting for another second.  It all seemed worth it.  

Inhaler jumped right into the show with a clear crowd favorite, “These Are The Days”.  They have a great Indy Rock sound with songs that are meant to be heard live. “My Honest Face” followed and the crowd was in full force.  During the long wait and after the show I spoke to a few fans. Some had come all the way from Las Vegas to see the show.  The young woman who was given a setlist was in tears.  I asked if she was ok because well, you never know. She said, “I’m just so happy.  I love these guys so much!”.  So needless to say their fanbase is devoted and dedicated and rapidly growing here in the States.  

Hewson or the rest of the band didn’t say much.  A few quips here and there, thank yous, and I love yous.  But that’s about it.  They let their music do the heavy lifting for them.  These were great fans.  They noticed the songs from the first note and they sang every word.  I enjoyed the different performing styles of guitarist, Josh Jenkinson and bassist, Robert Keating with Jenkinson a more stoic performer and Keating working the crowd a bit more.  Ryan McMahon on drums was as enjoyable to watch as any of them.  

It felt like the show flew by.  We were already into the home stretch with main set enders “Love Will Get You There” and “Cheer Up Baby”.  This audience did not want Inhaler to leave.  Even for the encore.  They just wanted them up on that stage playing more.  The chant of “One more song! One more song!” rang throughout The Grand with the previously mentioned hats flying on stage.  They got their wish.  Inhaler actually had two more songs for the roaring audience.  

“Make some noise for yourselves.  You’ve been great.” said, Hewson.  Inhaler closed the night with “If You’re Gonna Break My Heart” and “It Won’t Always Be Like This”.  I’m so glad I got to see these guys.  They’re already a big hit overseas.  I’m anxious to see just how big they get here in the States.  They’ve got the look, they’ve got great songs, and they sound great live.  I think over time they’ll get better with their live performance.  For now, they mostly stand there and play.  Not that every band needs to run around the stage doing scissor kicks.  But a little more animation will do them wonders in my opinion.  

Finally, and I hesitate to even mention this because Inhaler doesn’t really bring it up in their show or in press releases.  Elijah Hewson is the son of U2 frontman, Bono.  This isn’t a secret by any means.  But as I mentioned, it’s not really mentioned. I respect it.  It’s obvious Inhaler wants to have success based on their own merits.  And I think they’re doing a great job going down that road.  The reason I mention it is for two reasons.  One, there was a very obvious demographic of the audience at The Grand that in my opinion are U2 fans coming to check out Inhaler.  I’m basing it on the age of these fans and even the shirts they were wearing. 

This leads me to the second reason for mentioning this, as a U2 fan myself it was impossible not to notice the family connection at times.  Subtle inflections of the voice or physical movements, or the way words were enunciated did stand out.  But at the same time, if I didn’t have this information I don’t think I’d say “That’s definitely Bono’s son”.  It was just interesting to know that and see the resemblance.  I tip my hat to Hewson and to Inhaler for from what I can tell, not riding on those coattails and getting out there on their own.  I think these guys are just going to get bigger and bigger here in America. And I’m here for it!

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