Live Review: The Lottery Winners

The Lottery Winners

The Zanzibar Club, Liverpool, 1 November 2019

Words and Photos by Gary Lambert

November started with ice cold rain coming down in stair rods, and an invasion of Liverpool’s beloved Zanzibar Club by musical hordes from the Lancastrian hinterland between the county’s two largest cities. Heading the charge for the hearts of Liverpool was Leigh’s finest warriors, The Lottery Winners.

The first band we were treated to was Stanleys from Wigan (cheer from crowd). If you were to look at them, you would instantly put them down as a standard, young indie four piece with their on-stage tracksuits, and general “sound lads from Wigan” (cheer from crowd) demeanour. However Stanleys are a good bit better than that. The key to grabbing my attention is the tight, delicate guitar play which flows through each track slicing like cheese wire through my appearance-based prejudices. With a single due to be released in January, they’re definitely a band to keep an eye on. And they are from Wigan (another cheer from crowd).

The Racket feel like they’ve come straight from a Shane Meadows TV show based around the troubles of being in a band in northern England. I could picture their singer driving a Lambretta home from a job he hates to finish off a song he loves (note: the setlist was written on a beer mat). The band have a great way to engage with their audience musically, and I would love to see them perform in front of a crowd more raucous than the followers of The Lottery Winners as stomping bangers like Know That For A Fact deserve sweat drenched screams back. I do think that they need to be a bit more daring as their energy and self-belief will be lost in the myriad of bands who follow the same musical path as them. My hope for The Racket is that they do all they can to make people remember The Racket otherwise they will end up telling people in pubs about the time they were in a band rather than being a choice on the jukebox.

If the room had been busy for the opening acts, and it was, then magic seemed to happen for the arrival of The Lottery Winners as the crowd multiplied by excitement. As the quartet danced their way on to the stage, I was giddy to the point of the hairs on my arm standing up. Before a note had been played, it felt like I, alongside everybody else in the room, was about to be part of something special. Undoubtedly, my spidey senses were correct as The Lottery Winners did exactly what they always do, and take you on one of the most enjoyable rides in the theme park that is new British music. They’re not a dangerous rollercoaster, more like a trip on the rubber dinghy rapids. It’s fun, gives plenty of opportunities for cheering, and gives the bonus of loads of laughter. Except the laughter comes, primarily, from Tom Riley’s witty patter between songs rather than your mum getting ice cold water down her back.

Tom is a real force of personality, but he uses his status front and centre to make The Lottery Winners stand out as a unit rather than being Tom and His Lottery Winners. He acts as part singer, part compère, giving each of his colleagues their chance in the spotlight; and lets the audience in on the comments between them they have missed such as Katie’s scene stealing “fuck off Jacamo” retort after being told off for not hanging her coat up. Katie even coyly takes over the lead vocals role in the set which rather than lose the momentum of the show acts as a further flourish to the bright bouquet of The Lottery Winners.

It is ultimately their incredible ability to write a pop song which has resulted in sell out shows like this from The Lottery Winners. That’s Not Entertainment is a wonderful celebration of wit and cynicism, and songs like Elizabeth and Hawaii which have bookended their career so far cause the room to sing along. It was even commented by the band on how people were singing along to tracks that haven’t been released yet. Everything is building up to their release though as the debut album from The Lottery Winners is coming soon. As they explained the importance pre-ordering has on their hopes and dreams, it made me want to do everything I can to assist them in making those dreams come true.

The night finished in a somewhat surreal fashion as I was invited to take photos on stage with The Lottery Winners. Sadly, The Zanzibar is not a photographer’s favourite venue when they’ve left their flash at home, but it was a wonderful experience on a brilliant night.

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