Monday 15 May 2023

Inspiral Carpets / Cal Ruddy / The Lottery Winners / French Coriandah - Stockport Bask - 14th May 2023

Clint Boon has always been a champion of The Lottery Winners and it was fitting that the four-piece celebrated their number one album and end of their mammoth promotion cycle at Mrs Boon’s Tea Party at Bask. The event’s special guests were revealed to be Inspiral Carpets who performed a seven song set to a surprised and delighted audience.

It’s quite something that a bar in Stockport can attract two bands who have both topped the album charts and have sold out the Albert Hall in Manchester in the last six months, but that’s testament to the exciting music policy and business plan of the team behind Bask, situated just outside Stockport train station. 

They also support emerging artists too and the opening act today French Coriandah (aka James) even works behind the bar. His four song set features three originals - Dreaming About You, Headache Pills And Coffee and Telescope - and a cover of Cher’s Believe which most people join in the chorus of. His own songs, based on personal experiences of every day life and his favourite telescope from Argos, are solidly constructed and his vocals give you that sense of personal connection to the words he’s singing. He might be at the start of his performing career but it’s a well-received set by a chatty crowd on a Sunday afternoon social.

This is The Lottery Winners’ 39th show in 38  days in a campaign that saw the underdogs claim the number one spot against major label competition and budgets. After paying tribute to Seymour Stein who signed them to Warners and whose departure saw them dropped without releasing an album, he tongue in cheek congratulates them on having a number two album last week. He then proceeds to parade and share Anxiety Replacement Therapy’s Official Charts trophy with everyone who wants a touch of it or a photo.

As with any of their gigs there’s lots of audience participation, singalongs and interactions, Thom playing out his Freddie Mercury stage fantasies, recalling Scary Ste from their Leigh pub gigs who demanded they play Wonderwall or get beaten up and he cajoles Johnny, aka Morrissey in The Smiths Ltd, to join them on an unplanned cover of The Smiths’ This Charming Man. He accuses a kid of emotionally blackmailing them into playing Burning House in his own inimitable style too and jokes that the audience will play the Dido role in Letter To Myself and he needs to be careful not to say Dildo by mistake. He also asks jokingly if there’s any single mums who like fat lads with a number one album in the venue.

All this might detract from them if they didn’t write such insanely catchy pop songs that has seen them grow from pub venues to the Apollo and the top of the charts without the mechanisms major label artists have. 

They play six of their own - Favourite Flavour, Burning House, Let Me Down, Letter To Myself, Much Better and Start Again - from across their albums and around the room people sing along to every word such is the adoring fan base that have played such a key part in their rise. Katie leads on Burning House and Rob reprising Boy George’s lines on Let Me Down demonstrating the power of having more than one vocalist. 

Letter To Myself, a letter in song to Thom’s 12 year old self, has particular resonance and message - that things aren’t as big and scary as they seem if you face off to them. That one song really captures the reason why The Lottery Winners have finally achieved the success they’ve worked so unashamedly for. They are just like the rest of us and they put all of life’s worries, trials and tribulations into words we can’t often express ourselves. And they make it fun.

Cal Ruddy has the ineviable task of following that in a room full of Sunday chatter loosened by beer and prosecco. He takes it on with impressive enthusiasm and four songs that are immaculated crafted for the audience participation he refuses to give up on achieving on Breaking Little Heart and Maria. His good nature, enthusiasm and his songwriting craft and knack for a hook in the song means he wins through.

The appearance of all of the Inspirals and some of their team gives away the secret to those a little more observant and knowledgeable before Kev’s drum skin in memory of his friend Craig finally does.

There’s no stripping back the set of seven songs and Bask’s set up handles it well despite having had limited full band gigs to date. “They can swivel” Clint says when someone asks if the nearby Holiday Inn had complained yet.

The set is a predictable one, but with two new members - Kev on drums and Oscar on bass - no one is complaining given even seeing them play again still feels like a privilege after it felt they’d stopped forever after Craig died.  A request for Greek Wedding Song, off their second EP Trainsurfing, is met with amusement and a promise to learn it for the next time.

The audience sing along to Joe, Two Worlds Collide, Generations, Move, Sackville, This Is How It Feels and Saturn 5 - as if it’s a big headline gig and Steve and Graham stand off Bask’s small stage which is filled with Kev’s drums and birthday boy Oscar. He gets a chorus of happy birthday at the end and you sense how much he’s now grown into the role.

With a summer full of festivals ahead it’s a real pleasure to see Inspiral Carpets in such an unusual setting on a warm Sunday afternoon playing their most famous songs to an audience including kids and dogs and a few feet from a cake stall. One woman is in tears and the rest of us can’t really believe what we witnessed even though we’d worked it out earlier on.

French Coriandah is on Facebook and Twitter.

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

Cal Ruddy is on Facebook and Twitter.

Inspiral Carpets official website is here. They are also on Twitter and Facebook.  

They play  Holmfirth Picturedrome (May 25), Hull Welly (26), Warrington Neighbourhood Festival (27), Buckley Tivoli (June 15), Cardiff Tramshed (16), Church End Sign Of The Times Festival (17), Dunfermline PJ Molloys (July 20), Edinburgh Liquid Rooms (21), Sunderland Kubix Festival (22), Perth Rosemount Hotel (28/29), Brisbane The Triffid (August 3), Sydney Manning Bar (4), Melbourne Croxton Ballroom (5), Wellington San Fran (8), Auckland Tuning Fork (9), Derby Hairy Dog (24), Norwich Epic Studios (25) and Portsmouth Victorious Festival (26). 


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