Date: September 15th, 2019
Venue: The Deaf Institute, Manchester
Support: Oxygen Thief / LeBrock
With more than twenty years firmly under their belts, InMe have seen and been subject to the changes in music consumption that has come with the fast-paced changes of the digital age, which now favours tracks built for playlist-curation.
Despite their step back from the spotlight that they enjoyed in mid-2000s, they’ve continued to focus on progression, evolution and “the album experience”, and with it they’ve not only drawn in and maintained a borderline cult-like following; they’re also a firm underrated named in British rock as we know it today.
They also continue to pump out material faster than most bands with more than twice their financial backing, and, despite currently in the midst of their biggest gap between records so far in their careers to focus on themselves, they’re gearing up for their new era as a now five-piece with a UK tour to warm them up ahead of the release of album number seven, ‘Jumpstart Hope’.
Bristolian trio Oxygen Thief  are enlisted as the openers for this stint, and their care-free attitude certainly eases the crowd into the show smoothly, with frontman Barry Dolan speaking to the room like it’s filled with close friends.
Drummer Ben Whyntie has a grin smacked on his face for the majority of the set, and, though their Reuben/early Biffy Clyro-esque brand of rock is a little rough around the edges, it’s hard to not bob your head to the buzz of songs like ‘Uncommon People’.
LeBrock , however, opt for an attempt to modernise synth-tinged 1980s rock. Think Europe, Journey, or Bon Jovi if they formed, clashed with modern day synthwave, and wanted to take a stab at it today. There’s nothing necessarily wrong with that, except that the Peterborough duo have carved off some of the cheesiest tropes of the aforementioned acts of yore, and offered them up on a smörgåsbord.
There’s no denying that they’ve tightened the screws of their set, it’s impressive that a two-piece can offer something that sounds as embodied as it is, and Shaun Phillips has a powerful set of pipes on him. It’s just a shame that what they offer is far more derivative than it is delectable.
Starting out as trio and remaining as such for most of their career, it’s quite the progression to see InMe  now standing officially as a quintet for the first time, and admittedly a little jarring at first to see frontman Dave McPherson not wielding a guitar in his hands.
Donning his trusty Peaky Blinders-esque flat cap, McPherson‘s vocals sound richer and, ultimately better than they have for a long time. Focusing on singing alone, the frontman’s focus on his range sees it expand on the likes of older favourites ‘I Won’t Let Go’, ‘Underdose’, and ‘Angels With Snipers’, even if he admittedly forgets the lyrics to the latter for a brief moment.
It’s not just Dave who seems invigorated this evening, though. You can barely tell that bassist and brother Greg McPherson tore a tendon in his finger just a few hours prior (something the band poke fun at him for a few times during the night), guitarist Gazz Marlow powers through the lead riff of ‘7 Weeks’ with precision, and fan recently turned band member John O’Keefe radiates enough confidence that you’d think he’s been a part of InMe for years.
At moments Dave McPherson seemingly isn’t quite sure what to do onstage (you don’t need to climb on the bars at the side of the stage and stare at the wall, pal), but when you’ve had a guitar to focus on for more than twenty years, warming into his revised role in the band is to be expected.
Besides, when you’ve got new hits like ‘The Next Song’ and ‘Blood Orange Lake’, Dave clambering into the crowd to roar beside their fans during ‘Her Mask (P.A.)’, and the still-hair-raising-even-after-15-years banger ‘Faster The Chase’, it doesn’t even constitute as a minor grumble.
Revitalised and refreshed, this truly looks like a new and exciting era for InMe, and they’ve just jumpstarted it with us.