Lottery Winners at SWX

by Rick Johansen

When you exist in your own echo chamber, as many of us tend to do, even if we’re not always willing to admit it, it’s a good idea from time to time to step out of it and do something different. In this case to go to a gig where you know next to nothing about the artist(s) and it’s an entirely different genre from what you’re used to. And so it came to pass that an old friend took me to SWX on Bristol to see a popular beat combo outfit called The Lottery Winners.

The genre, according to Wikipedia, is indie pop to which I would add that they are far more pop than indie (whatever ‘indie’ means) and they’re one of the few pop acts I have ever seen, never mind seen in recent times. It’s Radio 2 for a live audience and there’s nothing wrong with that.

I was surprised not so much at the turn out at SWX, but the crowd’s knowledge of their songs. They sang along – and when I mean they sang, and I nearly everyone sang along – to songs that didn’t ring the slightest bell with me. And how they danced. The audience, overwhelmingly middle aged and older, danced as only mums and dads dance. The woman behind me moved up and down, as if a swan might do if it was stuffed with Charlie. Everyone shone the lights on their mobile phones when told to and punched the air in delight.

The Lottery Winners played a 75 minute set, comprising barely 13 songs, two of which were the encore, such was the level of banter and crowd engagement the band have with their audience. Hearing many of the songs for the first time never helps a listener but even I can tell that the band has a cracking, well-paced setlist of high class pop with absolutely banging hooks and choruses. I’ll never be a fan of the genre, which has elements of the Beautiful South, Big Country, Alex Turner, James and Scouting for Girls, but I did enjoy the show and can definitely see why so many people packed SWX last night.

They had a number one album last year which is quite something for a little band from Leigh and while I understand the cynic who complains that it’s not quite The Big Achievement it was 50 years ago, I don’t share the view. It’s a victory for hard work and talent, in that order (and I don’t mean that as an insult. Talent without hard work rarely brings success).

The lead singer Thom Rylance asked the audience whether they had bought the band’s last album. Just about everyone raised an arm to say they had. Hmm. I hope they bought the album, not stolen it – sorry, legally streamed it – from Spotify (other exploitative streaming corporations are available, sadly) because bands like this deserve to be paid for their work. I suppose that’s an argument for another day but when bands can only make, or often scrape, a living by playing live shows I’d like to think fans who love the music support them in ways other than by waving their iPhones in the air. Hopefully, many of them visited the merch table to express their gratitude and support for a very fine popular beat combo outfit.

Here’s one of the songs they did last night and below is the setlist:

  1. Worry
  2. 21
  3. The meaning Of Life
  4. Sertraline
  5. My Favourite Flavour
  6. Let Me Down
  7. 85 trips
  8. Overthink Everything
  9. Much Better
  10. You’re Not Alone
  11. Letter To Myself
  12. Burning house
  13. Starting Again

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