Sunday 23 April 2023

The Lottery Winners / Pet Needs / The A.V. Club - Warrington Parr Hall - 22nd April 2023

The Lottery Winners continued their campaign ahead of the release of their third album Anxiety Replacement Therapy with a sold-out show at Parr Hall in Warrington supported by Pet Needs and local band The A.V. Club. Previewing songs from the new record as well as a series of crowd favourites from previous albums and Thom's unique between song chat, the four-piece delighted and entertained an enthusiastic crowd.

Local band The A.V. Club make a very positive impression musically. Not used to such big stages (they announce their biggest show to date at the Deaf Institute in Manchester in August during their set), they have songs that fill the room and win over a crowd that mostly know little about them before. Singles How I Feel and I Think I'm Fallin' in particular feel like they were built for rooms like this and Joe's voice is powerful enough to fill this venue that they would have dreamt of playing as kids growing up in Warrington. With Freya's vocals providing a contrast they're distinctive enough to stand out and make their mark. It's a bit unfortunate that major tuning issues with Joe's guitar mean they have to cut their set short so they don't get the finale they deserve, but they'll take that as a learning experience among the positive.

Pet Needs have been out on this tour warming up audiences for The Lottery Winners, but other than their references to the campaign to get Anxiety Replacement Therapy to number one, they perform like they're the headliners with an energy that even draws those in who aren't atuned to their style, although there's plenty in the crowd who know the words to many of the songs either through being fans previously or the impression they've made at previous shows on this tour. Their songs have an immediacy to them, a feeling that you've heard them somewhere else before, but with enough personality in them that the crowd warm to them and what they stand for. They've got the personality and the style to come and play venues of this size on their own down the line and looking at their merch stand and the way in which they play and engage you wouldn't bet against them making good on their promise to come back.

The Lottery Winners' story is one that should give every band hope. As Thom tells us they started playing the pubs around their native Leigh, Wigan and Warrington with the dream that one day they would make it. They've already done that, but the next two weeks could see them topping the album charts and writing the final storyline to their rise as underdogs to the star attraction. They've gone from playing to crowds of single figures to having thousands eating out of the palm of their collective hands night after night. 

What The Lottery Winners have that makes them unique is the ability to craft simple yet affecting songs that tug at the heartstrings of the young and old, and the audience is a real mix. They've had the likes of Shaun Ryder and Boy George collaborate on Anxiety Replacement Therapy's tracks Money and Let Me Down, but when Rob takes George's lead the strength of the songwriting and the fact that The Lottery Winners have three great singers comes into plain sight. 

The songs may only have been out a few weeks, but each of the new ones are sung back at them like old favourites whether it be the uplifting Burning House, a funky upbeat number that shows a different side to Thom's songwriting, the set-opener Worry that has people singing back to him complete with Leigh accent or the wonderful heartwrenching Letter To Myself, a song from Thom to his twelve year old self that has him, and many of us, on the verge of tears.

The older songs show that they've got an impressive catalogue of songs behind them. Elizabeth is now ten years old and she doesn't feel out of places among the new kids and neither does Little Things from their label debut. Like all bands that have established themselves with a catalogue behind them, the list of personal favourites left off is as long as the set itself, although the encore cry for 21 is pretty unanimous across the room as it's being sung to an empty stage while they take the short break before returning. 

There's moments of true beauty, such as when stripped down to just Thom and his acoustic guitar with Katie on backing vocals for Overthink Everything where fifteen hundred mobile phone lights illuminate the Parr Hall and it feels like we're in the biggest stadium in the world. Start Again, which finishes the main set, is sung back at a volume that drowns out what's happening on stage - a song about getting knocked down, put down and getting back up again. These are personal to Thom, but they connect with the audience. It's here where music is at its most powerful, one person's cathartic release through song impacting others who can relate and everyone coming together as a release and to show that no one is alone and the doubts, self-doubts and challenges of life are universal.

There's a few mentions of the upcoming chart battle they're going to have with Freya Ridings for the number one spot. Thom gives an impassioned speech about a working class band from Leigh fighting against someone from Brit School and leading the crowd in a chant of "fuck Peppa Pig" as a reference to Freya's Dad being one of the voices of the programme. As they finish the set with 21, he leads an improvised lyric change to "this is how it feels to be number one" that everyone joins in with before he finishes with "let's hope that doesn't come back to bite us." It'd be impossible to begrudge them that success were they to fulfil their dream.

The Lottery Winners' website can be found here and they are on Facebook and Twitter.

Anxiety Replacement Therapy is out on Friday April 28th and can be pre-ordered here.

Pet Needs are on Facebook and Twitter.

The A.V. Club are on Facebook and Twitter.


Follow Even The Stars on Twitter at @eventhestarsuk and like our Facebook page for all the latest updates

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