“We just want to be famous” – The Lottery Winners sell-out The Sugarmill after album tops mid-week charts

“We just want to be famous – that is it – and we’re so close.” Thom Rylance tells a sold-out Sugarmill on Tuesday night, just hours after The Lottery Winners saw their album – Anxiety Replacement Therapy – crowned Number 1 in the midweek charts. 

“We’re there at the moment. We’ve got hold of that trophy but it’s covered in Fairy liquid,” he said. “It’s like we’re one-nil up at half time in the cup final, but they’ve got Messi and Ronaldo on the bench.”

Will The Lottery Winners be able to stave away the likes of Jessie Ware and Nines until the weekend? If selling out a Stoke gig on a school night doesn’t suggest so, I don’t know what will.

The packed-out show saw Stoke-on-Trent’s own Lissy Taylor, who typically performs with a full band, offer up a stripped back string of singles released in 2022, including She’s a Stunner, Healer and Fierce.

“I don’t know why I find myself writing so many songs about not letting people get in the way of doing what I want,” she joked – but there’s plenty more where they came from, too, with the singer/songwriter teasing fresh ears with soon-to-be released music, as well as a gorgeous cover of Amy Winehouse’s Back to Black.

The BIMM graduate has such a beautifully ethereal vocal quality and captivated the crowd with her empowering and addictive indie sound that sits somewhere in between the likes of HAIM and Phoebe Bridgers.

Pet Needs are a band that should probably come with a warning: may contain break-neck energy and swinging microphone stands. 

The Colchester-based collective delivered a stomping set of punk rock power that was audibly outrageous, kicking off with Lost Again and Punk Isn’t Dead (It’s just up for Sale). Brothers Johnny (vocals) and George (guitar) Marriott are a tandem tornado on stage – it’s like watching an aggressive game of table tennis with 53 ping pong balls on the go – impossible to know where to look, and anything could happen. 

It’s semi-controlled chaos at its very best as the band rattle through tracks from their sophomore album Primetime Entertainment – produced by friend and fan Frank Turner – including Ibiza in Winter and Fear for the Whole Damn World.

An undeniably huge stage presence, an animated Johnny balances his mic stand on one hand as though auditioning for Cirque Du Soleil. And as if by magic, blink and he’ll disappear from the stage to the crowd barrier.

Each member of this frenetic and frenzied outfit bounce off one one another, from Rich Gutierrez on bass, to Jack Lock killing it behind the kit. Piledriver punk with screaming guitars and razor sharp wit, Pet Needs dispense an explosive and abrasive experience that’s feverishly fun to watch.

A taped hypnotherapy session followed a vintage recording of ‘Daisy Daisy’, before The Lottery Winners burst triumphantly onto the stage, jumping straight into the set with Worry from the brand new album.

The audience is made up of a dedicated and devoted following stretching generations, with many sporting Lottery Winners t-shirts, hoodies and daisy shaped sunglasses. They know their stuff, too. 

“What’s that at the back of the stage?” Jake asked me. “Erm, a painter’s palette I think?” I replied, while a loyal fan jumped in to explain: “It’s because of the name of the album… ART,” – of course it is.

And it wasn’t long until that paint palette was required, either, but not before a vibrant display of what this Greater Manchester working class band are made of through feelgood electric indie anthems like Little Things, The Meaning of Life and Elizabeth.

Thom Rylance is a loveable frontman and cannot contain his excitement about the news that the band’s latest release had topped the midweek charts. He only mentioned it approximately 32 times throughout the set – but it is an accolade worthy of the attention. The Leigh-born musician is inherently hilarious, and the audience would just as soon pay to see him perform an hour of standup as they would to watch the band perform while he belts out notes for ‘like 15 minutes’.

He gives his best sales pitch, pleading with fans – although not like anyone needs their arm twisting – to buy the album and keep the record in that sweet spot.

“We cannot compete with these major labels with ad spends,” he said. “We can’t do that, we’re normal people, we’re not famous. This could make a huge difference to it.”

He introduces the firecracker bassist that is Katie Lloyd, who took to the microphone for 85 Trips with glittering vocals while Thom brought on an easel and canvas to paint a one-of-a-kind masterpiece. We’ve seen some creative results from this exercise throughout the course of the tour, but tonight’s work of art consisted of a daisy, with a number one painted neatly in the centre, signed by Thom and up for grabs for one lucky fan who purchased the album at the gig.

Guitarist Rob Lally then showcased his own vocal ability during Let Me Down, demonstrating the wealth of talent that bleeds through the band. It’s easy to see why Seymour Stein signed them on the spot – it’s just a crying shame that the music mogul passed away before he could see the last band he ever signed climb that chart ladder.

Thom revealed his vulnerabilities as he opened up about his experiences with ADHD at school, with a viscerally emotive rendition of A Letter To Myself, before undertaking the role of Shaun Ryder in Money – Rob doing his best Bruce Forsyth introduction to welcome him onto the stage.

Anxiety Replacement Therapy is The Lottery Winners’ fifth studio album, and has received backing from some huge artists, including collaborations with the likes of Boy George, Frank Turner and, as mentioned, Shaun Ryder. The four-piece have also befriended Sheffield’s Reverend and the Makers, who’s album Heatwave in the Cold North came out the same day as theirs.

Because The Reytons can do it, because The Lathums can do it, it means that real music is on the verge of coming back,” Thom said, diving into a passionate rant about major labels and nepotism. “They don’t believe we can do this. We’ve been working hard for 28 days in a row on tour, selling these albums.

“When real true hard work can really make a difference, we didn’t shy away from it. We did it through friendship, hard work and talent.”

The sunnies-wearing singer admits he feels ‘Much Better’ after performing said track after his earnest outburst. It’s these intimate moments between the dancing disco pop that are perhaps the best-loved, and exhibits the band’s honesty and personality the best. The way Joe laughs at Thom crying, how Katie picks up his plectrum off the floor when it’s dropped and the brotherly banter shared through mum jokes between Rylance and Lally – this is more than just a band and a fanbase – it’s a family.

The energy on stage is electric throughout the catchy chorus of Burning House which is a phenomenal display of harmonies, Katie, Rob and Thom’s trio of vocals make for an compelling listen as 400 fans bellow back lyrics, having dutifully learned them over the course of the last week – or simply absorbed them via osmosis having listened to the album on repeat for five days straight.

Concluding Start Again the band stand smiling from ear to ear, and their modesty from the support might appear insincere if it wasn’t so richly deserved and clearly hard won. 

The set ends, as has become tradition, with 21, only, it underwent a minor reworking as fans chanted “number one, number one, this is how it feels like to be number one”.

If anxiety is the cause, The Lottery Winners shimmering summer-soaked album is the self-help tape cure you need. Anxiety Replacement Therapy 100 per cent deserves that number one top spot this weekend, and if The Reytons can do it… The Lathums can do it… and The Lottery Winners can do it, it shows that independent artists from Stoke can do it too. These are the bands paving the way for overlooked pockets of the UK where up and coming artists struggle for exposure. A win for The Lottery Winners this weekend is a win for small bands across the UK.

Tomorrow is the last day to make your buy count – you can order Anxiety Replacement Therapy here.

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1 Comment

  1. Ian
    May 4, 2023 / 8:28 am

    A great review of a great night, watching The Lottery Winners is as addictive as any drug. I love it when they come to Stoke and they have fans who will travel all over the country (even abroad) to follow them. xx ❤️ xx

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