The early 2000s were an incredible time for live music in my home town of Wigan, Greater Manchester.
Thanks to the phenomenal efforts of a handful of enterprising promoters, this little town, which hadn’t been relevant since the days of the Northern Soul boom, suddenly begun to give the thriving music scenes of neighbouring cities Manchester and Liverpool a serious run for their money.
Whilst several venues featured in the bustling Wigan music scene at that time, there was one in particular that sat right its very heart:
A dark little underground cavern known as The Lux Club.
The Lux was such an integral part of the scene at that time that, even after it closed down (more of which later), clubbers and gig-goers alike would still use its name to refer to another night taking place across town in a different venue entirely.
The reason I’m telling you this is because today’s entry in the 52 Songs That Changed My Life centres entirely on this venue, on the final gig to take place there, and on the consequences that gig had on my future career.
The year was 2004, December 2004 to be exact. The Lux Club was set to close in just a few short weeks following two final live music nights.
It was the first of those two nights, on December 8th, that our story takes place.
At the time, I was an aspiring music journalist with not much in the way of a portfolio, or money for that matter, or a proper job.
A few months earlier, I’d been fired from a rubbish telesales job I had for writing movie scripts and poems when I should have been selling 24/7 courier services to businesses.
Since that time, I’d been scraping together just enough money to buy the odd packet of cigarettes and a few pints of beer by tending bar at a local old man’s boozer.
All the while, I’d get to whatever local gig I could, pen a few words about it afterwards, and see where I could get it published.
A few of these made it into a small, local newspaper aimed at the youth market, which was great in terms of building a portfolio, but not so great for building an income, since my contributions at that time were merely voluntarily.
In early December, I’d received an email from the newspaper’s editor. It had been sent out to an entire mailing list of contributors, asking if anybody wanted to cover the penultimate night of live music at The Lux.
Naturally, I jumped at the chance, and a few days later found myself outside what was at the time the town’s most famous venue, armed with a ten pack of cigarettes and just enough money to catch the bus back home.
Right from the very start, the gig was nothing short of outstanding.
Local legends Moco whipped the packed crowd into a frenzy with their brash, ferocious brand of garage rock and unbridled charisma, setting the scene for what was to be a wild night.
London art-rockers Dirty Snow stormed it thanks to some blistering music and a mesmerising performance from frontwoman Esther Planas that I can still see clearly in my mind’s eye to this day.
Honestly, I only have to close my eyes and think of that gig to picture Planas vividly, thrashing around in plaid skirt and grey top as though fully possessed by her band-mates’ lethal concoction of beautiful noise.
For me, that set alone was the highlight of the entire show, but the night was far from over.
Welsh band The Martini Henry Rifles came up next and threatened to destroy the whole building with a set that was every bit as loud as it was fierce.
By the time they’d finished, it was time for the last bus home to leave the station.
I had a very important decision to make:
Be sensible and leave for the bus.
Stay and catch the main event, a confrontational, controversial, part-punk, part-art performance from a band named Selfish C**t.
It was a no-brainer. I spent my bus money on a pint of beer and took my place for what was to become one of the most talked about shows in my hometown for years.
Selfish C**t had been earning a reputation for chaotic live shows which channelled the most antagonistic elements of punk, on more than one occasion being compared to the legendary Sex Pistols at their most vitriolic.
So, it was with a lot of excitement that the packed audience pulled together around the front of the stage to witness frontman Martin Tomlinson and musician Patrick Constable to do what they did best.
The boys didn’t disappoint.
Though their savage style of electro-punk may not have been to my taste, there was no doubting the feeling that, when you were watching Selfish C**t live in this small, intimate venue, you were not just watching something special, you were a part of something special.
The atmosphere was intense bordering on outright hostile. If you want to know just how hostile, look at this image:
That was taken from the gig itself, and for me perfectly sums up what the atmosphere was like.
Eventually, things got a bit too real, and the club owners cut the power to the PA system, forcing not only the end of the gig but the end of live music at the original Lux Club forever.
For the show itself, that was the end of the story, but for me, it was only the beginning.
Having chosen to stick around to catch this monumental performance with not enough money to get a taxi home, I had no choice but to walk home.
It was a good seven miles, in early December weather, and it took at least a couple of hours to walk home.
But it didn’t suck.
It didn’t suck because I had this idea in my head, this belief that followed me all the way home. It was a belief that this was in some way ‘paying my dues,’ that this was me making some sort of sacrifice that would one day get me towards my goal of writing professionally for a living.
I held on to that belief every single step of the way, and it made that walk if not exactly enjoyable, then at least tolerable.
The best part?
I was right.
Not long after my review of that gig went to press, the same editor of the publication where I’d previously worked for free got in touch and offered me a 12 week, paid placement.
Can you believe it? An actual paid writing job!
I leapt at the opportunity with gusto and poured my entire heart and soul into it. When those 12 weeks ended, I was offered a full time, permanent position at the paper and, as the old saying goes, I haven’t looked back since.
Britain is Shit by Selfish C**t is one of the weirdest songs on this list, because even though the band who performed it had a bigger, immediate life-changing impact on my life than perhaps any other, it’s the one song on this list that I’m not actually a big fan of.
That said, the group’s second album, English Chamber Music, does actually offer some incredibly awesome songs, and is well worth checking out.
Britain is Shit by Self C**t is the 34th song on my list of 52 songs that changed my life. Other entries in this list are below:
- Michael Jackson – Bad
- Queen – Bohemian Rhapsody
- Queen – The Hitman
- R.E.M – Drive
- Pink Floyd – The Wall
- The Eagles – Take it Easy
- Beautiful South – Old Red Eyes is Back
- Coal Chamber – Loco
- Type O Negative – Everything Dies
- Monster Magnet – Space Lord
- Live – The Dolphin’s Cry
- Metallica – The Memory Remains
- The Prodigy – Poison
- Nirvana – Territorial Pissings
- Iron Maiden – The Angel & The Gambler
- Metallica – Creeping Death
- Pantera – Cowboys From Hell
- System of a Down – Sugar
- Guns ‘n’ Roses – Garden of Eden
- Guns ‘n’ Roses – Mr. Brownstone
- Metallica – King Nothing
- The Cranberries – Zombie
- The Offspring – The Meaning of Life
- Muse – New Born
- Biohazard – Resist
- Rage Against The Machine – Testify
- Soil – Halo
- Slayer – Seasons in the Abyss
- Alice in Chains – Would?
- Pearl Jam – Alive
- Tom Petty – Free Falling
- Counting Crows – Mr. Jones
- Incubus – 11AM