A friend asked if I wanted to go along to a gig later this year. The band that are playing are called Inhaler, so off I went to look them up. It turns out the band are fronted by Bono’s youngest son, who in voice and looks bears an uncanny resemblance to the big man. I listened to the band using a well-known streaming service. They haven’t put much material out but the songs that I did listen to are almost mid to late period U2, although the publicity machine around Inhaler claim the more street-cred generating Echo and the Bunnymen as a formative influence. I looked through the pictures of the Hewson clan, and realised that despite a boyhood mania for U2, stretching to playing their albums on repeat to the extent I can barely listen to them now, I hadn’t ever been remotely curious about Bono’s children. The web of course, has been curious on my behalf and has millions of pictures of them, as they grew up, went to parties, got papped and hung out with other rich kids. The mania over their ‘career choices’ had entire newspaper stories built around them.
It got me thinking about Bono Jr and his bands’ passage to this sound, this delivery, this cadence. The story is familiar enough to echo the lore, plausibly. Four guys meet at a school in Blackrock, Dublin. They make guitar music. They are signed to a deal. How is it possible to have avoided thirty years of music influence and end up sounding like post-POP U2, when U2 went ahead and ditched the experimentation and went solidly for the coin. The hauntology of vaporware, absent. The compression and sparsity of grime and drill, not there. Even the strides that guitar music has made aren’t there. There’s arguably more modernity in the 1975.
It seems all so boring – the band photographed lovingly by Anais Gallagher, daughter of Noel Gallagher, and forming a sort of already finished, already massive, road-ready and heavy rotation ready successor to U2. Rock dynasties. I mean, I guess plenty of young men follow in their father’s footsteps, and not all young men will have Paul Hewson as their father. But it’s an oddly modern tale, Bloomian anxieties of influence without the anxiety, just the cool, calm collected wearing of an inheritance like a comfortable silken slipper.