Legends, myths, fables, once upon a time etc Etc EiTC… Well… you know how it goes? Just then…
After a hard day’s levitation, I met up with the legendary Pidge, somewhere around Archway…
We set the sugar tongs for 1976 and headed in the general direction of Finchley North London.
Probably due to the day’s precipitation and some moisture penetrating the circuitry of the navigation unit, we somehow managed to end up in Watford 40 years later, which was quite timely as there were a bunch of lads there with a few tales to tell of Finchley in the year 1976…
A couple of years ago The Stranglers celebrated their 40th Anniversary – there aren’t many bands who enjoy such longevity but they’ll be called the survivors, you know why?
Forty plus years of myths of menace, mayhem, meninblack, and other miscellaneous madness and misdemeanours but above all music (alliteration not withstanding). There has been much variety along the way but a good few constants are also weaved among the threads of this dark tapestry. Not least the followers and fans.
Among the earliest and most well-known of these are the legendary Finchley Boys. Immortalised with a name-check in the song Burning Up Time. They stood side by side with the band in the early years and have themselves become part of the story.
Tonight was a celebration of the fortieth anniversary of the Finchley Boys first fated meeting with The Stranglers at The Torrington in Finchley. The proceedings tonight were not in Finchley itself but The Flag in Watford which is a large pub right next to the train station with a good sized music hall (not unlike The Torrington inside according to Finchley Boy Al Hillier).
The celebrations were arranged as a charity fund-raiser to commemorate those Finchley Boys departed for the great gig in the sky – Daddy, Leigh, Chris and John.
Stranglers Tribute Band Straighten Out were the headline act, supported by Punk covers band The Smash. There was a Q&A session with the remaining Finchley Boys as well as an auction, a raffle and lots of merchandise and memorabilia.
In addition to the Finchley’s and their families, The Flag was brimming with Family/Fans in Black here to take part in the celebrations. Any Fan in Black with a link to the internet or social media will not have missed out on the tireless organisation work of Finchley Boy Steve Hillier. And the hard work and dedication paid off as the £5k fund-raising target was well and truly surpassed with the final sum raised being in excess of £7k!
Rob Owen took Mic for the Auction which saw some of the hard-core collectors digging deep for some ultra rare Stranglers memorabilia.
A mix-up with the raffle tickets saw EiTC’s guitar and jacket allocated to other people, although I wasn’t about to raise a fuss what with it being a charity do and all…
The Smash kicked off musical proceedings nicely with some well-presented punk covers.
Special guest ‘Super-Collector’ Neil Horgan entertained all and sundry with his excellent story-telling, recounting some elements of his own personal ‘Stranglers’ journey.
Due to a technical hitch we were unable to view the video compiled by Les Neil but a link came through the following day, watch it here…
Before long The remaining Finchley Boys: Steve Hillier, Alan Hillier, Dennis Marks, Pete Enter, Graham Heyhoe, Pete Sharp and Alan Warne gathered on the stage for a Q&A session. MC for the evening Neil Sparkes fired questions from far and wide and the audience asked directly.
We all stood agog as they entertained us with the tales of their encounters with The Stranglers.
In no time at all, Straighten Out took the stage and proceeded to rustle up some Mk1 Magic.
The sound was superb and authentic, the crowd hung off every last note. SO get better and better with each listen, soften your focus and it could be the real deal standing right in front of you!
The lively crowd spilled over onto the stage occasionally which although in good spirits could potentially have spelled disaster.
Several of the crowd (not least Sandra and Al) took it on themselves to try to protect the stage. By the end of the set, the Welsh Mafia plus Pidge, Al and Sarah were on the stage providing a human barrier in a scene somewhat reminiscent of the Finchley Boys heyday!
Coming soon – Guest Review – The Finchley Boys 40th Bash according to Pidge…
Words and Images: Matthew Elvis Brown.