Finally, The Lottery Winners come home to Manchester’s 02 Ritz
So tonight I’m back in Manchester once again, this time checking out my friends band The Last Clouds play at our very own RGM series of events before a quick dash across town to the o2 Ritz of which this review is about, times were tight between the two but doable so why not.
The Lottery Winners are a bunch of unlikely looking pop stars who have been slogging away for over a decade slowly building a reputation for enjoyable nights out with great humour and catchy tunes. They’d been on my radar for a few years but it was only until 2019 when I finally saw them perform on Bearded Theory Festival’s magical Woodland Stage where after just the first few songs they had the crowd eating out of their hands they instantly became firmly on my band list to follow.
Having successfully made it across town I arrived in time for tonight’s main event, walking through the doors to a fully packed Ritz was somewhat breathe taking – this is my second visit to the Ritz since the reopening of live venues, the previous time was to the wonderful late John Halls event and two things strike me, one how small the Ritz looks when there are only a few people milling about early doors and two, how massive it looks when full to the brim of people.
Tonight the venue looked Epic!
Crazy to think that the last biggest venue in Manchester the Lottery Winners had sold out previously was The Bread Shed, selling out the Ritz mush have felt a daunting task to do back then when they announced they were going to play there next, maybe a bit of a naive booking or a belief that maybe something might just be falling in place finally for the band, thanks possibly down to Covid delaying the dates and the proactivity of the band during, the dream became the reality.
Right onto the gig and here comes the usual cliche that it’s going to be a hot and sweaty night, I’d been in the venue for a whole five minutes before beads of sweat were starting to run down my back as a montage of clips of the band during lockdown is played over the PA to cheers from the crowd then Tom Jone’s Delila kicks in and the crowd are in full voice mode as the band walk on stage.
This moment clearly took the band aback going by the looks on their faces, Thom is clearly overwhelmed at the response from the crowd as he’s never lost for words after walking on stage but tonight the silence is deafening, even Katie let out a little “Fucking Hell” into the microphone! It appeared that the crowd was up for a party too as the band struck into their first song, Headlock.
Once finished Thom and co are shaking their heads in disbelief about what is happening and they kick into song number two That’s Not Entertainment which has the crowd drowning out the band during the chorus.
As the gig moves on its clear that the band were getting back into their stride, the humour from Thom returns, referring to the family upon the balcony to the left of them as the Royal box, dissing their support in the nicest possible way, calling the crowd dickheads when he pretends KT Tunstall is about to walk on stage and Katie’s jumping up and down with the biggest grin across her face.
It has to be said that there’s something special about Katie, she has a child-like persona about her, be it her voice (which is beautiful) or mannerisms that etch a scared but excited little person on stage that folk in the crowd just adore, it’s clear as the night moves on that the band cannot do wrong tonight – this might just be down to half or possibly the whole of the population of Leigh their home town being here but the floor is bouncing and folk are on each other’s shoulders.
Before you know it the band are walking off stage for the traditional encore which brings the 2 songs that totally encapsulates The Lottery Winners, Emerald City and 21.
Emerald City was the 1st song written by the then 3 piece band, written in the Royal pub in Leigh. It’s a heartfelt song sung in harmony about friendship and belonging containing a line “Come with me into a world that makes no sense” that is probably more relevant today than it was when it was written 13 years ago, the other 21 is a full-on party anthem that was continued to be sung by the crowd, before, during and after the song was performed by the band, even after they said their goodbyes and had walked off stage for the final time.
As the crowd left, Elvis’s Can’t help falling in love plays, a fitting and accurate summary of The Lottery Winners, you simply cannot help but do so, incredible to see how far the band have grown over the past 3 years of following them and how it’s moved on from the band worrying that nobody would turn up to the bread shed gig – if there was ever a triumphing of the underdog The Lottery Winners are just that.