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The Lottery Winners - Manchester Apollo - 19th January 2024

LOTTERY WINNERS LIVE IN MANCHESTER – WHAT HAPPENED?

It’s been a long time coming, even longer than originally planned but tonight, Leigh’s The Lottery Winners play their largest headline gig to date at Manchester’s iconic Apollo. It’s an impressive level of growth from the band who in 2019 were panicking to sell out The Bread Shed and yet in 2023 after a global pandemic they’ve sold out The Apollo, a venue 10x the size of said Bread Shed.

Indeed it’s their hard work during the lockdown where The Lottery Winners took the initiative and grasped a captive audience with their online antics, collaborations and recordings, if you have a physical copy of those fruits during that time then congratulations, you now have a valuable item that many people new to the group are and will be desperate to own themselves.

TLW’s non-stop hardworking when the world opened back up, touring with any band who would have them, grabbing any festival spot they could and yet still managing to record their 1st ever No1 Album, Anxiety Replacement Therapy aka ART, selling out 1st Manchester’s Ritz and then Albert Hall and now tonight, The Apollo playing to the extra 3150 fans they have picked up along the over the past 4 years through all that dedication to the cause of getting as many people they could to hear and/or see them.

There’s nothing less expected than one big party tonight if the vibe on their fan page on Facebook is anything to go by!

Dirty blonde

Dirty Blonde - Mcr Apollo supporting The Lottery Winners - 19th Jan 2024

A sizable crowd is already in the building for openers Dirty Blonde, personally it’s 1st time catching these and initial impressions are good despite the usual lack of quality sound opening acts seem to get these days, the girls are clearly grasping this opportunity and running with it, plenty of heads nodding along straight away and by just the 2nd song the request to clap along is met with enthusiasm among the crowd.

Their sound is quite dirty rocky guitar based with plenty of distortion and even a bit of double drumming during a couple of tracks, somewhat at odds with TLW sounds but there’s plenty of fans in the crowd who from the likes of Frank Turner who TLW’s have picked up along the way as well as fellow No1 Album holders (well until a few hours ago), Shed Seven who also help give them a leg up, this isn’t your usual polarised crowd.

Overall a fucking great opening set which the band must have been delighted with especially by the end of the set as they were playing to a pretty much full house and I’ll certainly be seeing them play a headline gig themselves.

Clint Boon is on duty on the decks to entertain the crowd between the change overs and begins his opening with the Arctic’s, fitting giving the temperature outside…

“Secret Guests” Reverend & The Makers

They have done quite a good job keeping this one under wraps as nothing seems to have been leaked out to the fans other than a not so subtle tweet by the Rev himself.

 It’s 8.15 and the secret gig member is not only the band they beat to No1 last year but another long term TLW supporter, Jon arrives on stage solo for their acoustic set and he’s met by a rapturous cheer from the crowd as he announces himself as not Frank Turner, not Shaun Ryder, Rick Astley or Boy George as the rumours have circled and opens fittingly with Open Your Window..

He’s joined after opening by fellow band member Ed Cousins and for a short moment Thom himself who is watching from the side stage as he brings Jon a can when Jon admits he wouldn’t have normally turned up as he’s feeling like shit but it’s his mates.

A Letter To My 21 Year Old Self follows, fitting really as it mixes 2 TLW’s songs in its title which in turn rolls into a Gnarls Barclays cover, Crazy – A band I also saw many moons ago here in the Apollo dressed like Gun’s N Roses in all their pomp spandex, surreal…  Next they are joined on stage byJon’s wife Laura (who as circle of things go is also appears on the Sheds new No1 Album) and they’re into another cover The Beats Mirror In The Bathroom that slips into Miss Brown, Heatwave in the Cold North and then their biggest hitter, Heavyweight Of The World.

Heavyweight certainly gets the crowd fired up even though like all the previous songs it’s been done acoustic, a dangerous move by the headliners as it could have all fallen flat but thankfully Heavyweight is an absolute banger however its done and the Apollo is ringing with the sound of the crowd singing along. As per all Makers gigs, Silence Is Talking finishes off the set and keeps the crowd upbeat

Back to Boon on the decks to get the party atmosphere opening with The Smiths This Charming Man followed James’s Laid which turns things up a notch with the crowd singing the chorus which ringing around the room.

He ends his set of Manchester’s own with  There ls A Light That Never Goes Out,  a song which TLW covered during the Pandemic and certainly brought on the atmosphere in a now very expectant crowd, even Rock DJ playing through the house system afterwards isn’t holding them back…

The Lottery Winners

Thom Rylance - The Lottery Winners - Manchester Apollo 19th January 2024

Now it’s the big moment,

A Radio Album chart montage rings out signifying it’s main event time followed by Thin Lizzy’s Boys Are Back In Town for the walk on song and BOOM they’re straight in with Money and the noise from the crowd is deafening. “I’m so fucking nervous!” Thom shouts during the songs breakdown but he’s no need to be as his clear he’s amongst 3500 friends tonight showing unwavering support as fan favourite and usual set ender 21 is up next.

To say I thought the crowd during the opener was loud, I wasn’t even close,  the venue is rattling with the noise already none more so than when Thom introduces the band, not that it’s needed.

“Never had a better feeling like this right now!” Thom proclaims, explaining that as a 12 year old his 1st gig was here in the Apollo seeing Sum 41 (which becomes something of a theme for the night), and where he thought “One day I want to do that”

Meaning Of Life, Sertraline fly in a blur and it’s time for Thom to rep it again with the crowd and announcing a “New song” after speaking to Boy George who told him all you need for a hit song is 2 words so he wrote a song “Hey Jude” which kicks a crowd take over the Beatles track before Favourite Flavour is introduced in an almost Queen like sing and repeat.

“I think it’s going well, do you think it’s going well? Thom asks “ “What’s next” he says looking at the set list “oh fucks sake”

Time for a change of singer now as Rob Comes to the fore with the crowd cheering Rob Rob Rob for him

 “STOP IT! Every single chant feels like a flick on my testicles and not in a good way” Thom proclaims “Fine, fine, Fucking fine if you want Rob Lally you’ve got him!” as Rob takes on his Boy George duties to sing Let Me Down which he delivers as well as the original.

Katie’s turns next with 85 Trips “You want to sing a song at the Manchester Apollo that’s sold out” Thom asks, “Yes”is the reply. Remarkable really as it took a lot of coaxing to get her to sing in front of just 350 people at the aforementioned Bread Shed- for a girl who was once petrified to sing in front of those she’s nailing singing this to 3500.

In the meantime Thom’s sat on the drum riser drawing away until the songs finished. “ I’ve done a drawing, wanna see it?” he asks the crowd before showing Katie a picture of a cock and balls making her squeal before revealing a picture of him as a 12 yo kid at the Apollo and asks who wants it?

“You’ve been singing ever word” He says to a young fan, “What’s your name” he asks “How old are you? 10? This is a 14+ gig, get out! Little Dickhead” He was of course joking and handed the drawing over to the young lad.

“You want this one?” holding up the cock and balls He says asking another young fan before promising to draw him something after the show…

Rob and Joe leave the stage leaving Thom and Katie for a slow one, Overthink Everything. Phone lights are out and the Apollo is lit up brighter than when the house lights are on. It’s special moment of the night at most gigs stopped when the line “Turning out the lights” is sang and Thom waits for the crowd to drop the torches to the ground saying “Come on, get em down it’s obvious, get em fucking down” “DOWN” laughing before commencing. With Thom asking the crowd to finish the song it gets to Katie and she breaks down and hugs onto Thom until Joe arrives as he returns to the stage, she did well to make it this far. 

“He’s a very important part of our lives and I don’t feel he gets the respect he deserves some times so let’s have a song for Joe” as he proceeds to start a crowd sing-along, Erasures A Little Respect which they duly take on even hitting the highest of notes as the band kick into Much Better and the crowd continues singing along.

Thom breaks up addressing the audience saying how much love and support the band receives and thanks everyone standing by them as they live their dream that isn’t in anyway taken for granted and it’s into You’re Not Alone.

Thom takes off his LW baseball jacket to reveal a  Sum 41 tee “still fits!” he proclaims “but I was a fat child.12 year old me up there watching Sum 41, what would I say to my 12 year old self?” And on that the crowd takes it away before Thom gets chance to finish the 1st line of the chorus, no need for Frank Turner tonight, the crowds having this moment!

Main set done it’s time for the Encore and there’s no milking it as they’re only off stage for a few minutes.

Burning House is up next and even tho cameras have been recording the whole show it’s this track thats getting made into a video.so Thom asks the crowd to go mental which to be fair was going to be a given anyway and they’re going to have to use the soundboard for the audio because the crowds drowning out the band for the majority of the song.

Times almost up some 70 minutes have flown by in a flash so it’s down to the last song of the night which is obvious, “You’ve lost yourself” and the crowd take on the song as their own sing and clapping as Thom breaks down again along with many of the audience who are full of joy in their hearts “Manchester! I fucking love ya!”

“The fat guy is finally speechless” says Thom as the song comes to a close and he can’t get his words out and Sum 41’s Fat Lip plays out over the system as the band launch their LW jackets into the crowd and hand out set lists to the loving fans down in front.

It’s difficult to explain a Lottery Winners gig, the closeness of the band itself and then with them and their fans. On paper it really shouldn’t work in the 2020’s but there’s something magical about their gigs that other bands simply can’t touch, it’s an uplifting experience in a way I’ve never seen another band achieve, they are truly unique in what they do.

It might not be to everyone’s taste or at least that’s what they might think originally but they have gained so many fans from other bands audiences you would never have thought would get on board in a million years yet they have because that magic just works.

As I saw someone write recently they are bringers of joy, no matter how tired, upset or grumpy they can be off stage – as soon as they step onto that stage the transformation happens and sunshine fills the room/arena.

The biggest night of their lives so far is only the beginning of the next chapter…

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PHOTOGRAPHS BY MATT JEFFERSON