An area's 'special characteristics' are a magnet for estate agent copywriters. How close we are to the tube, good schools, open spaces with an occasional nod towards a farmers' market and community initiative. Sure, these things are important, but we tend to forget that the vast majority of people in an area are not looking to buy or rent – they breathe, work and live without giving too much thought to their immediate surroundings.
So what can bind a community of people with different political views (yes, not everyone likes JC), aspirations and lifestyles? In our case it could just be the magnificent Rainbow Theatre on the corner of Seven Sisters Road and Isledon Road. How many times a week do we pass the glorious Grade ll-listed building with the ubiquitous UCKG banner and think, 'what's the story'? Wasn't that once….?
The Universal Church of the Kingdom of God (Brazilian Pentecostal) is celebrating its 20th anniversary in the building which has seen some remarkable events since it first opened as one of four Astoria cinemas in 1930. in 1939 it became part of the Odeon chain until 1971 (hosting the occasional live concert) as well as screening films. From the early 70s the venue was solely used for gigs, and some very big names performed there including The Who, Jimi Hendrix (yes, he destroyed a guitar there), T Rex (Marc Bolan lived 'up the road' in Newington Green), Joan Baez, Queen, Bob Marley, The Jacksons and the Beach Boys. It could be said that Queen's gig in 1974 was the one that ticked the required boxes to see them 0n their way to stardom.
Protected by law, this magnificent building has served the people of Finsbury Park and beyond for 85 years demonstrating an enduring quality of presence amid change while enabling the area's residents to feel immensely proud to live amid one of the UK's most respected leisure and now prayer venues.
And yes, these days there are huge concerts attracting thousands of people in Finsbury Park itself. But while that site is both massive and convenient and brings in revenue to the small business of the area, the Rainbow is one of the few venues that carry an iconic status – and it's on our doorstep.
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