The Lottery Winners Review
by Rob Ledgar and Ian Ledgar

Review for Ay Up Duck Radio’s Sugarmill Show

Saturday 11th September was a mix of intriguing, rocking, and poppy sounds from three separate bands, all of whom possess immense talent, unique charm, and attraction. From a smartly dressed trio producing sounds unlike any band I’ve ever seen to an acapella rendition of a nineties hit TV show’s theme tune, this was a night unmissable, unforgettable, and unrelenting in talent.


Formal Sppeedwear

Local band Formal Sppeedwear made an immediate impact, emerging onstage dressed in a mixture of suits and general formal attire before getting comfy in their environment, guitarist Charlie Ball took off his shoes and socks before looking upwards to reveal his face was smeared with Sudocrem. How’s that for first impressions?

Now running with the tired Talking Heads comparison as somewhat of an in-joke, Formal Sppeedwear are an innovative and Avant-Garde concoction of Roxy Music, Spike Milligan, Sultans of Ping F.C., Alan Partridge, The B-52’s, and Spike Milligan and The Goon Show. The trio of James Croxton on vocals and bass guitar, Charlie Ball on guitar, and Connor Wells on drums play much more than the instruments present on stage, covering the stage floor with pedals, soundboards, and devices to play and loop samples as varied as extractor fans and metal shutters, all of which were used throughout their set.

Some may be confused by Formal Sppeedwear, there was certainly plenty of debate in the audience after their performance, but I’m sure that the band want nothing more than to leave their crowd confused, surprised, and wanting even more from them.

Between the equipment strewn across the stage or balanced on ironing boards and the sparse few words frontman James Croxton gave us, we were left wanting to unravel and explore the almost mysterious nature of the New Wave group as they finished an all-too-short set to crashing applause from a very lively crowd.

Formal Sppeedwear’s debut EP, Dynamite, came out in March and is an excellent preview of the band who are destined to headline at The Sugarmill in the near future, I will certainly be there for that joyous day.


The Racket

Formed in 2015, The Racket are anything but the annoying noise their name would suggest, instead they are a well composed and politically charged four-piece who play with purpose, power, and passion, delivering rock-tinged indie anthems and strong messages along the way.

First suggested to me through The Lottery Winners Fan Club, who gave overwhelmingly positive reviews of the band before the gig, the Widnes quartet of frontman and guitarist Callum Codd, guitarist Mike Smith, bassist Colby O’Sullivan, and drummer Dom Eaton were lively throughout the evening, kicking off their set with the anti-Tabloid No Shine From The Sun, a track which sounded very much like the early work of Oasis.

Aggression into passion is a theme concurrent in much of the post-punk and indie scenes across the UK today and The Racket seemed to have total control of this; hacking guitars, frenzied drumming, and potent lyrics truly stirred up a blend of pure passion to really liven up the evening, allowing ample opportunity for the crowd to smash into one another in a rebellion of love.

As previously mentioned, the influence from Oasis is most notable, but there are also hints of early Arctic Monkeys and The Kooks, taking an energetic and “two finger” approach to their music to ensure riotous results. Lockdowns may have put the handbrake on The Rackets, but now they’re raring to go trailblazing off into the sunset, ready to bring in a very bright future.

Their latest single, Take Me Home, came out on 24th September and certainly isn’t one to miss, serving as a great introduction to all The Racket are about both musically and thematically.


The Lottery Winners

When headlining in Stoke-on-Trent, I can think of no better way to immediately get the crowd on stage than walking out to Tom Jones’ Delilah, a song almost intrinsically linked to the area and an anthem in its own right. This nod to local and contemporary culture was the perfect signifier of what was to follow in one of the most entertaining and engaging gigs most, if not all, of the audience had ever been to.

Hailing from the same area as Pete Shelley’s Buzzcocks, the Leigh-based-four-piece are poppy, indie, mischievous, and rife with power ballads in the ilk of Spandau Ballet’s Gold, though The Lottery Winners are certainly much more than that. The multi-faceted band kicked off with Headlock, one of the most popular tracks from their 2020 self-titled album The Lottery Winners. Headlock provided an immediate bounce of life and energy to the set with its AMesque guitars riffs, a sound which supported the wholesome and oh-so sweet lyrics delivered by frontman and guitarist Thom Rylance who allegedly had a sore throat on the night, but you certainly couldn’t tell from where I was standing.

Each time I have seen The Lottery Winners they have only improved, and while Rylance stands front and centre of the stage the moniker of “frontman” or “lead” is shared across the band; at several moments throughout the gig the whole band harmonises to deliver a choir of wholesome and provocative lyrics, lyrics often reflecting themes of struggle, mental health, and issues faced in modern society. It would be easy to argue that they are one of the most entertaining bands on the scene at the moment.

The complete and punchy sound of the band is only further perpetuated by bassist Katie Lloyd, guitarist Robert Lally, and drummer Joe Singleton who all add their own personality and flare to the performance. Lloyd and Lally act almost like the best man at a wedding, constantly laying into the groom and giving it as good as they get it, the grooms in question were Rylance and Singleton who were bullied all evening long, though bullied is perhaps too strong a word.

After a brief round of jokes, The Lottery Winners jumped into That’s Not Entertainment, a wonderful tune against reality TV and all the problems it brings with it, the chorus of the track being its namesake, something the audience would chant back to the band as they stopped playing their instruments to bask in the sound resonating around The Sugarmill. Little Things came next and was soon followed by Favourite Flavour, the latter of the two being the opening track of as-yet-unreleased album Something to Leave the House For, the former song being the band’s most popular after their collaborative sea shanty cover of Rockstar with Nickelback. No, really.

Thom Rylance ponders “why are all gigs in Stoke weird?” before launching into an acapella sing along of the theme tune of The Fresh Prince of Bel-Air. And you think we’re the weird ones? This hiatus of nineties nostalgia allowed for guitars to be tuned up and lead into Sunshine, a radio-friendly track sang by bassist Katie Lloyd, AKA Ko-Lo, allowing for Rylance to rest his voice. Sunshine was sweet and wholesome and gave wind to the fact that each member of the band is very talented, Lloyd’s voice being excellent in a lead role.

For Much Better the band’s photography team was very active as clips from each live performance were to be used in the official video, though The Sugarmill didn’t need any more encouragement to be as bouncing and as lively as it was. The whole set was very lively with tracks like Start Again, Elizabeth, and The Meaning of Life setting the benchmark for what The Lottery Winners are about, though they were unafraid in slowing things down with Overthink Everything, another great display of the band’s thoughtful lyrics.

The penultimate track of the night was Emerald City, the first song the band wrote, though this quickly transformed into another acapella cover, this time the whole atrium sang along to the chorus of Caravan of Love. The Lottery Winners ended on the emotional 21, a lookback on youth and the fantastic evening of music we had all enjoyed.

Seeing The Lottery Winners is an immersive experience of humour, talent, well-rehearsed anthems, and spontaneity, a mixture of which only provides an outcome of total joy to all those who look on. The four musicians enjoy themselves on stage as much as we enjoy watching them play as they provide plenty of entertainment throughout their sets. I’d say The Lottery Winners are certainly something to leave the house for.


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© Rob Ledgar & Ian Ledgar 2021
Contact: SugarmillShow@gmail.com







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