In his own words, some yet to be added to the OED - The legend that is Pigeon gives his account of the recent Finchley Boys 40th Anniversary Bash...
It was 9am Saturday Morning. I received a phone call from Elvisintheclouds. He was on his way to his yoga class. We spoke about the Finchley boy bash, and I asked if I was going I was (couldn’t edit that mate, it’s golden EiTC). He offered me a lift to the venue, a bed for the night, and a drop off to the tube station Sunday morning so I could go to work. So the day started with a trip to Archway Tube station North London. I met EITC at 6pm, and off we drove to The Flag pub Watford.
We Arrive in Watford just gone 7pm. The Flag is a nice setting for the event. Upon Arrival the usual suspects are already there, Alex, Sarah, Rob, Owen, Jacquie, Les Neil, Audrey, Sandra, Elaine, The Welsh Mafia. I met Neil Sparkes and Alan Hillier. It was good to talk to them, and we heard many stories about the Finchley Boys.
Walk into the venue I meet Steve Hillier. Who has my t-shirt and I bought a badge. To my right I spy a table full of goodies “Sell him Everything” I think was Mr Carnes idea. I could not believe my luck when my eyes feasted upon a poster of JJ Burnel on his Triumph Motorcycle, that was given away free with early Japanese copies of “Euroman Cometh”. I bought a Japanese copy of Euroman on eBay but my copy did not come with the said poster. “HOW MUCH? for the JJ poster I say to Steve?”. He says “you want it make me an offer?”, I say “Whatever the asking price is” he says “£15”. I open my wallet to (in disgust) find only a tenner in it. I say I will be right back and there’s a cash machine inside the venue. Withdraw another tenner. Rush back inside and yes its still there in all its glory. I can’t believe what happened I HAVE THE JJ BURNEL POSTER ON HIS TRIUMPH. I can’t recall the next half an hour, oh yes I can, proceed to show to it anyone who’s willing to let me talk to them.
First on was a band called The Smash. A punk rock covers band. They did great covers of New Rose, Ever fallen in love, Hit me with your, rhythm stick, She does it right, smash it up, Teenage kicks. got the audience dancing. They played well enough.
Next up was one of the highlights of the evening, the brilliant Neil Horgan. Who from Ireland, and one of the tops Stranglers collectors gave an impressive speech on why The Stranglers changed his life. Saying the first time he heard The Stranglers was in 1979, and “Duchess” on the radio. He then went on to tell the length and depth of his record collection “No More Heroes” was released in Turkey!! & ….. Brazil. “Ain’t nothing to it, was released in Bolivia”. He then said his mum went on to give him a birthday surprise one year, “You can’t go to The Stranglers, Neil but there coming to you”. This was in 2005 and Neil said “I saw them in London last night, they’re in Southampton tonight”. Then Hugh walked in the living room with an acoustic guitar, and did an acoustic set for Neil, who couldn’t believe it. And Hugh said to Neil “Neil I have written a song that’s better than Golden Brown, do you want me to play it to you?”. Neil said “yes please” the song was “Delightful nightmare” and said it wasn’t as good as “Golden Brown”. He then when onto say his favourite item was his Stranglers Bomber jacket! A great speech.
Next up there is a raffle that takes place, of which I didn’t enter but lots of nice items up for grabs including an acoustic white guitar, signed by all the band.
Up next was supposed to be a film, but there was technical difficulty so Neil Sparkes then introduced The Finchley Boys onstage for some stories, some have flown in from abroad for this. Steve Hillier, Alan Hillier, Alan Warne, Graham Hayhoe, Peter Enter, Peter Sharp, & Jonjo Bull.
They all gave stories of how the Finchley boys came into existence, when The Stranglers played the Torrington pub in 1976. They said they saw The Damned play live there in 1976, but when they saw The Stranglers they knew that they were something special, so they invaded the stage. There was then tales of what they got up. They were in the TW studios, when No More Heroes was being recorded. They told the story of the battle of Cleethorpes and Canterbury 1977, when a running battle with the band the Finchley’s, and some HA, one had a knife and was about to stab JJ and a Finchley boy saved him. Alan told the story of the Dingwalls incident that JJ always talks about, and he says jj says the Finchley were there, but Alan says they weren’t as they didn’t know them then. They also tell the story about when they followed the band on their first European tour.
After the Finchley’s it was time for Straighten Out who Neil Sparkes introduced. 3 Straighten Out gigs this year for me. As unfortunately I missed the second Hope and Anchor gig of the year in September. They came onto what else but “Burning up Time”. Seeing Straighten Out is always an experience, as it gives an idea to what it was like in the really early days. Keyboardist Mick “The Doctor” Turley, uses a Hammond just like Dave’s and it sounds superb. Shaggy’s bass, is how JJs bass sounded back then, and Guitarist Phil Harvey does a brilliant job emulating Hugh. It’s a concentrated set tonight. “Goodbye Toulouse” followed. But hello, technical problems early on in the set.
The pure MK1 magic continues with “Peasant in the big shitty”, “I feel like a Wog”, “Peaches”. “Nuclear Device” the Bruce and Sheila’s are in fine voice tonight Then the crowd favourite “Toiler on the Sea”. a highlight of any gig, Dave’s Keyboard intro sung by all fans in various stages of merriness. It is here that the merriness of the Southern Section could no longer take it and were the first to fall. With the hard Northern Section of the audience prompting them back up (huh? EiTC…).
A Brilliant version of “The Raven”, follows “Princess of the Street” and “Genetix”. It’s a very long set tonight part two sees the “Black and white” part of the set start with “Sweden”, “5 minutes”, “Walk on by” was well received. Time for more “Black and White” now “Sleazy”, “Tank” and “Curfew”. “Straighten Out”, “Hanging Around”, “Something better Change” and “London Lady” finish the main set.
Time for the Encore “School mam”, “Heroes” and the rip roaring “Down in the Sewer” where I among Alan Munro, Steve Maloney and Paul Anthony Kerswell find ourselves as Stage Security acting as the human barricade. I have never done Stage Security before, but like being a Stage Tech I am excellent at it (modest too EiTC).
A great evening all round a well over £7 thousand pounds raised for Charity. Thanks to Steve Hillier and The Finchley boys for organising this.
Words: Adam Salem.