Song, by Toad

Posts tagged garden of elks

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Pale Imitation Festival 2014

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Well brace yourselves, here we go: the full lineup for the Pale Imitation Festival 2014 has been finalised and can now be announced, tickets can be bought, and giddy excitement can commence. It’s a cheap and cheerful festival of Scottish music, held at Henry’s Cellar Bar over the course of August.

Conceived initially as a way to keep the fun, family-friendly DIY spirit of the awesome Retreat Festival alive, I think for me it’s sort of evolved into something different. I like the Edinburgh Festival, I really do. Or at least I try. There’s lots of awesome stuff happening, but there is also a massive, stifling avalanche of over-priced, imported rubbish which smothers everything in the city and dominates the press and makes it almost impossible to do anything at all in music except sit back for six weeks and wait for it to be over. And being a bloody-minded little shit, I don’t accept that.

Music used to be really well served during the Edinburgh Festival, but now it seems that small local enterprises doggedly trying to support Scottish music are pretty much the only ones giving it any kind of foothold at all. The Queen’s Hall and The Electric Circus have some great stuff on in August, and then there is us: a reasonably-priced, month-long celebration of local music, held in one of Edinburgh’s stalwart underground venues. A fiver per gig, and a season ticket available for only £25, as well as a separate, showcase gig at the Queen’s Hall which will be the last ever Meursault show.

The full lineup is below, and tickets can be bought here, except for the Meursault/Plastic Animals Queen’s Hall show which can be bought directly from the Queen’s Hall. Season tickets are here, and they entitle you to attend all the Henry’s gigs (the QH one is separate) – meaning you could get nine gigs for the price of five, which is pretty amazing. Do try and get there by 8pm though, so we know whether to hold you a place or not at the busy shows.

Sat 2nd Aug - Adam Stafford, Le Thug & Duchess
SAY Award-shortlisted Adam Stafford is currently working on a new album, and his experimental, looped guitar pop songs will be complemented by the hazey washes of Le Thug and newcomers Duchess.

Thu 7th Aug - The Leg, Now Wakes the Sea +1 TBC
Screaming pop mentalists The Leg headline the second night, with support from the phenomenal, if a little wonky, Now Wakes the Sea, plus another band to be confirmed.

Sat 9th Aug - The Yawns, Sharptooth & alansmithee
The Yawns play a lazy brand of sloppy guitar pop, and made one of the sleeper albums of the year a wee while back. They are joined by the slightly more aggressive Sharptooth and Livingstone newcomers alansmithee.

Wed 13th Aug - Meursault & Plastic Animals – Queen’s Hall
The centre-piece of the Pale Imitation Festival this year is the last ever Meursault show, at the Queen’s Hall. That’s right, your last ever chance to see the current band play live, and they will be joined by pals and label-mates Plastic Animals.

Thu 14th Aug - Deathcats, Garden of Elks & Passion Pusher
Surfy, guitar loons Deathcats released their debut album this year, and it is every bit as hugely enjoyable and sloppily noisy as you would have expected. Abrasive shouters Garden of Elks and Edinburgh’s most hapless guitar pop star in the making comprise the rest of the bill.

Sat 16th Aug - Jonnie Common, Jesus H. Foxx & Andrew R. Burns
Jonnie Common is a maverick genius, who makes experimental music sound like the most accessible of pop songs, and he’ll be joined by the recently resuscitated Phoenix H. Foxx, and Chillwave revivalist Andrew R. Burns. Jonnie really needs to start using his middle initial, to fit on this bill properly.

Thu 21th Aug - Rick Redbeard, Siobhan Wilson (Ella the Bird) & Kitchen Cynics
If Rick Redbeard would stop buggering about being famous with the Phantom Band, I think he could be one of Scotland’s most loved singer-songwriters. He’d be one of mine, certainly, and after only recently discovering his stuff, I wouldn’t be surprised to hear myself saying the same of The Kitchen Cynics. Siobhan Wilson has just started to perform under the name Ella the Bird, but her gorgeous voice and songwriting remain very much the same.

Sat 23rd Aug - LAW, Numbers are Futile & Wozniak
LAW has been one of the breakthrough sensations of recent years. Based in Edinburgh, and collaborating with members of Young Fathers, her music is dark but danceable, and actually reminds me of an Edinburgh pop singer of a few years back – anyone remember Helicopter Girl? No? Just me, then. On the bill with LAW are the hypnotic, rhythm popsters Numbers are Futile and messy shoegazers Wozniak.

There will be a big old after-party after this show, with Lost Map DJs and, erm, well hopefully I won’t be allowed anywhere near the decks at all.

Thu 28th Aug - eagleowl, Ian Humberstone & Smackvan
Eagleowl are Edinburgh’s most glacial post-anti-drumcore, kraut-folk band, and will be joined by the gorgeously intimate croon of Ian Humberstone and warm miserablism of Smackvan.

Sat 30th Aug - PAWS, Halfrican & Et tu Brute!!!
Our favourite pop-punk band PAWS proved they had rather more strings to their bow than just awesomely hummable guitar tunes with their fantastic second album, released at the beginning of the year.  They are pals of ours, they almost signed to our label, and they’re the most prolific accumulators of parking tickets on the Toad Van, so they seemed like a perfect choice for the closing party of this year’s Pale Imitation Festival. Joined by short-shorts-wearing Halfrican and the intense battering of Et tu Brute!!!, it’s going to a lively last show. And then I will get some fucking sleep.

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Er, Thursday’s GoNorth Showcase Tips

inverness Er, what? I hear you say. Tips from GoNorth? As in the GoNorth which took place on Wednesday and Thursday last fucking week?

Yes, that GoNorth. Basically, none of you really live in Inverness anyway, do you, so it’s not like you could go to the gigs in the first place. So the fact that the hangovers from the partying last week, the gig on the weekend and the inevitable results of a sunny day in Scotland means I am only posting this now presumably makes little difference – it’s basically just some music tips on the internet, one way or another, so who cares if they’re a week too late to actually see the gigs.

Cough. You all totally bought that excuse, didn’t you.

Good, then we shall proceed. On Thursday last week there was a bloggers’ showcase, curated by The Pop Cop, Peenko and myself so I suppose I’d better start there as you would bloody well hope I would like those bands, wouldn’t you.

Well the two I’d pick from our lineup would be two bands you’ve heard quite a bit about on here already: the surfy slacker pop of The Yawns, whose debut album made the Song, by Toad Top 20 albums for 2013, and the hyperactive, shouty guitar racket of Garden of Elks. The Elks have been playing an odd game of bass player top trumps with PAWS, and I’m not really sure who won, because the band sounded just as sharp and boisterous after the change as they did before it, so maybe it doesn’t really matter.

Apart from the *cough* obvious excellence of my own personal recommendations for the blogger lineup there were a couple of other right noisy bands who happened to clash with our stage times, but who I was determined to nip out to catch at least a bit of.

Both played one after another in what can best be described as the ‘cosy’ setting of the Market Bar, a place which is very much too small to be a venue, but nevertheless applied itself to the job with cheerful success. Birdhead are a sort of thunderous, two-headed Zack Galafinakis and were a mere day away from releasing their debut album when they played in Inverness. Their music is at times a bit too heavy for my personal taste, and at others, it’s ragingly, hypnotically awesome. And when they’re a yard ahead of you battering this stuff out straight at your face it’s even more impressive.

Pinact are a band I haven’t really written about as much as I should have on this site actually. I saw them at Sneaky’s for the first time about a year or so ago and they’re really good – sort of a cross between PAWS and Dolfinz I suppose, if you’re familiar with those bands. Or, to put it another way, slacker rock turned up loud enough that it broke my ears for two days afterwards and was played with such ferocity that the term ‘slacker’ seemed rather inappropriate.

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Live in Edinburgh This Week – 3rd June 2013

 Of course we all know the one really important thing happening this week is the above gig: The Leg, Monoganon and the Sean Armstrong Experience at Henry’s Cellar Bar on Saturday. That’s because this is BAD FUN, of course, the kind of fun which doesn’t take place here because we have the super old Festival, where fat-tongued, Home Counties public schoolboys arse around for the overpriced entertainment of American tourists – you know, proper culture. No, BAD FUN is where it’s at, people, that’s what we want and of all the bad fun I can think, the deranged howling and tortured-but-infectious melodies of The Leg are pretty much top of the heap.

They’ll be joined by the awesome Monoganon, whose second album will be making an appearance on Fence Records sometime later this year (I think), and The Sean Armstrong Experience.

There is, of course, one more dose of Toadliness, but this only applies to those of you who will be at GoNorth in Inverness, where Peenko, The Pop Cop and myself will be hosting the Bloggers’ Showcase at Mad Hatters from half eight onwards, although as this is an Edinburgh listings page, I won’t go on about this, save to tell you that we’ll have Plum, The Yawns, Friends in America and Garden of Elks playing.

Meanwhile, back in Edinburgh, there are a couple of awesome gigs this week as well (*cough cough* besides BAD FUN of course).  Firstly, on Thursday the Edinburgh Carer’s Council present R.M. Hubbert, Adam Stafford and Esther Swift at the Electric Circus. As well as Hubby’s gorgeous flamenco and the looped experimental pop oddness of Adam Stafford, there will be an online auction on eBay which will become ‘live’ to coincide with the concert. Limited edition artwork has been donated by Jenny Soep along with signed DVDs, t-shirts and CDs from other artists including Adam Stafford, Dame Evelyn Glennie, Shirley Manson (Garbage), Beth Orton, Eddi Reader, Admiral Fallow, James Grant (Love and Money), Chris Thomson (Friends Again/The Bathers) and Leo Abrahams.

And finally, there are a couple more slice of general splendidness coming your way in Edinburgh this week. Firstly, tomorrow night – Tuesday – at the Liquid Room you can see the dreamy pop of Camera Obscura whose new album is out.. more or less now, I think, and at the Electric Circus we have North Atlantic Oscillation‘s shoegazey stuff as well.  And then there’s the Birdhead album launch at Sneaky Pete’s on Sunday. They’re a band I don’t mention enough on this site, actually, because I rather like what I’ve heard from them, even though that isn’t all that much. It’s fairly heavy stuff at times, but they have some good stuff, and I am looking forward to hearing their album.

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Toadcast #270 – The Autocast

posttag Welcome to the Autocast. The Autocast? Yes, we have a new car. So exciting! It is, much in the style of pretty much every car I have ever owned in my life, a bit of a shit-heap. In fact, it’s a total shit-heap: a 1992 Volvo estate.

I will be driving it up to GoNorth in Inverness this week, to see if it’s going to prove to be reliable in the long run. It made it all the way from Oxford to Edinburgh a week or so ago though, and that was seven hours, so I reckon it should be fine. Hopefully. The thing about spending £350 on a car is that you can be pretty much certain that something serious must be wrong with it. A properly functioning car is worth more than £350, more or less whatever it is.

Anyhow, GoNorth should be fun. It usually is, and now that we are a bit more established within the Scottish music community it’s a nice chance to catch up with pals who I might not necessarily see that much of because for some reason Glasgow seems too far away most of the year. Ridiculous, really.

Toadcast #270 – The Autocast by Song, By Toad on Mixcloud

Direct download: Toadcast #270 – The Autocast

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01. Book Group – Year of the Cat (00.22)
02. TV Girl – She Smokes in Bed (07.07)
03. Garden of Elks – Contented Contender (12.57)
04. Camera Obscura – Fifth in Line to the Throne (16.44)
05. Four Visions – Closer (23.01)
06. Way Yes – Get Healed (28.57)
07. Majical Cloudz – Chilhood’s End (37.40)
08. Stuart Warwick – The Nail That Sticks Out Gets Pounded (41.45)
09. The Tablets – Tablets (50.57)
10. Virals – Wax Works (59.45)

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Garden of Elks – Extended Play

elks It’s nice to be right.

I remember when this lot first appeared, with the awesome, shouty This Morning We Are Astronauts, the very first thing which went through my head was that age-old Toad mantra: don’t get too excited, it’s just the one song. I know I say that all the damn time on this site, but it’s more for myself than it is for you, I must be honest. It’s so easy in this business to hear something new and awesome and then to go rambling excitedly away about it before you really have much idea if the band are going to be any good or not in the long run.

Obviously a four-song EP isn’t all that much more new information, but in general I get a really good feeling about these guys. I saw them play live at Sneaky’s again recently, as part of the Wide Days festival, and they were great. Niall snarls out at you from behind his beard, Ryan seems to be powering the bass guitar entirely by the energy of a thousand crotch-thrusts, and Kirstin manages to look wild-eyed and rock ‘n’ roll and yet curiously calm and collected all at once. And it is, simply put, just great pop music. Shouty-as-fuck pop music with loud, snarling guitars maybe, but nevertheless infectious as balls and huge amounts of fun.

There are a couple of songs from the EP available for preview on the band’s Soundcloud page, as well as both the earlier singles. The EP is available to buy here on CD or cassette, and if you do so you’ll notice one other thing which bodes well for the future of this band. I’ve written before, in reviews of Brown Brogues and PAWS, that the danger of being a band largely defined by intense, raucous pop songs is that when you move on to album territory (assuming you do) then there is the risk of wearing out the listener a little by going at them hammer and tongs for forty minutes.

Limpy the Javelin Thrower, the third track on Extended Play, whilst just as wonky as the rest of the EP, gives the sonic battering a bit of a rest and in doing so suggests that this lot know what they’re doing a little more than you might be able to guess from two boisterous pop singles. Good times ahead, I would hope.

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Toadcast #266 – The Gnomecast

posttag The Gnomecast could have been called many, many things. It could have been called The Widecast after Wide Days, the Edinburgh-based music convention I attended in the middle of last week, and from the showcases at which two of the songs on this podcast were chosen. Equally, it could have been called the Witchcast, due to the fact that the vicious old Fucker of Working Britain is now a thing of the past.

In fact, now that I think about it, a whole podcast dedicated to anti-Thatcher songs would probably have been a distinct possibility, but my feelings on her death are not quite so clean cut. Yes, I am glad she is dead, but it’s more of a sense of relief, just a sort of feeling of peace now such a vindictive, spiteful cause of so much harm is finally gone, rather than the sort of air-punching, high-fiving glee which was in evidence after Osama Bin Laden was finally rubbed out.

But make no mistake, Thatcher was far more evil than Osama Bin Laden. Never mind domestic politics, her support for despots around the world was directly involved in the deaths of many, many more people than amateurs like Saddam Hussein and Bin Laden.  The fact that these people were mostly brown, or at least brownish, leads us to underestimate the horror for which she was responsible, but responsible she most certainly was. To be fair, of course, I don’t doubt that Hussein and Bin Laden would have been capable of far, far worse deeds had they had the power to actually carry them out, but I am not sure that should really be an excuse for the likes of Thatcher, Reagan, Bush and Blair.

Sorry, that really had nothing at all to do with gnomes, did it. Ah well, move along.

Toadcast #266 – The Gnomecast by Song, By Toad on Mixcloud

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01. Judy Garland – Ding-Dong! The Witch is Dead (00.19)
02. M.J. Hibbett and the Validators (01.07)
03. eagleowl – Not Over (12.24)
04. The Pictish Trail – Wait Until (17.46)
05. Numbers are Futile – Justice is Light (and Blood) (27.37)
06. Law Holt – Hustle (34.30)
07. Garden of Elks – Floaty (42.07)
08. Siobhan Wilson – Reading You (45.10)
09. Kid Canaveral – Who Would Want to be Loved? (51.31)
10. Virgin of the Birds – Evening of Light (58.09)

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Five For Friday – 12th April 2013

So, the Wicked Witch is dead, eh? Super. About time. Fuck her, she was a cunt, and it is basically impossible that she suffered enough. You don’t get to cause that much harm to that many people, especially when you do it with such glee and hatred, and then lecture me about etiquette or compassion when your frail, dusty old cadaver finally quits twitching for good, its remaining years fuelled not so much by anything resembling life-force as by the simmering neutron star of weapons grade bile at the core of your viperous soul spitefully refusing to be extinguished once and for all.

Well she’s gone now. Good. Fuck her. Bring me the head of David fucking Cameron next.

1. Song of the Week: The Fight For History, by M.J. Hibbett and the Validators

The song in the video at the top of the page comes from this absolutely excellent album by M.J. Hibbett and the Validators, and I am not sure a political song has resonated quite so strongly with me, well… pretty much ever, really. It’s an oldie, of course, and I heard it many years before Thatcher’s death, but I knew immediately at the time that he had absolutely nailed something with this tune.

We’ve already seen this with the revisionist accounts of Ronald Reagan’s presidency in the U.S., and of course one of the main reasons the political right in this country are jumping up and down in outrage at those celebrating Thatcher’s death is of course because they don’t want any challenge to their view of her legacy. They want to control the narrative, to paint her as a strong, principled leader. And of course she was, but then so was Emperor fucking Palpatine.

If we want the world to remember the way she destroyed industry after industry in this country, whilst simultaneously dismantling all the safety nets she was ensuring people suddenly needed, and then setting the police on them when they complained as if they were her own private army, then we have to make sure that story is told often and well. The same goes for her support for murderous dictators around the world, and encouragement of Bin Laden and Saddam Hussein. And for her privatisation and deregulation fetish, which pretty much handed the keys to the generation of wealth in this country to the very richest amongst us, in order that they could lock everyone else out.

She was a cunt. She is dead. Good.

2. The Ginstitute

Yes, seriously, the Ginstitute. You can go there, learn how to make your own gin, and then do batches, order more later and stuff like that. I don’t mean to sound either shallow or like too much of an alcoholic (I am both, I just don’t want to sound like it) but this shit has my name written all over it!

3. Fora Do Eixo & Off-Axis

As you know, I was at Wide Days yesterday (see Newsnight feature here), schmoozing with industry types (or just catching up with some pals, depending on what way you want to look at it).  This one is bloody amazing. The Unconvention guys in Manchester are trying to build a British equivalent of Fora Do Eixo in Brazil. That network allows artists to play sold out shows across the whole country, even in cities they have never visited before. It is free to use and now involves 3,000 artists from across 200 cities, generating $44million for the independent music sector, but it basically started with bands from three different towns wanting to set up gig swaps to allow them to tour outside the main Sao Paolo-Rio axis in Brazil. Instead of conventional gig swaps, however, where you end up tied to certain bands, here when you put on a gig or host a band you earn credits in a virtual currency (now so widespread in Brazil it is underwritten by the government) which you can then spend in the system however you please. It’s hard to explain properly, but if you’re a band looking to tour the UK and reckon you can bring an audience of at least 70 people to a hometown gig, then it’s worth having a look at.

4. Siobhan Wilson, Garden of Elks and Saint Max & the Fanatics

In the evening at Wide Days there were three showcases, and these are my three favourite bands from the ones we saw. Firstly, Siobhan Wilson’s set was fucking lovely. Oddly, at times it feels like you might be in a musical, and then at others the songs had just a bit too much of a nasty undercurrent, such as this little peach from her latest EP.

Saint Max and the Fanatics were awesome too, if a little odd. I can’t really think of anyone else making music like theirs at the moment, not that I don’t think is shit anyway. I’m not entirely sure what it is they’ve got, but it’s definitely something. And finally, Garden of Elks made a massive, gleeful racket of shouty guitar music. Awesome.

5. Olaf Furniss is a Pretty Cool Guy

I don’t take to these pages to directly praise my pals very often, but this one deserves a little mention. As we walked between showcases yesterday evening, Olaf directed us off into one of the little lanes off the Cowgate. I thought he was taking people to somewhere the delegates could get some food, and I impatiently suggested heading off to Sneaky Pete’s with the others, because I had already eaten and wanted a pint instead.

Without really going into details he said that I should just come along, which I figured I might as well do, and bloody good that I did, too.  In one of the alleys Olaf had stashed a van full of tasty food from Henderson’s, and as we were mid scoff, he opened the back of the van and out popped Stanley Odd to do an impromptu, two-song acoustic set. I am not exactly Mr. Hip-hop, but their first tune – about the independence for Scotland debate – was great, and in fact the whole thing was just brilliant – a sort of vegetarian deli, hip-hop ambush. Even the locals who complained (like a couple of whinging pricks) were pretty funny. So well played, Olaf, very well played indeed.

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Live in Edinburgh This Week – 8th April 2013

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Yep, the post-Gnomegame hangover has just about subsided, I have caught up with most of the screamingly urgent emails in my inbox, and I am now sitting here wondering when Mrs. Toad will return so I can accept the glorious privilege of making her her dinner. Super.

Anyhow, my slow recovery means that unless you’re very, very quick on your feet you are likely to miss Beth Orton and Dan Michaelson playing at the Liquid Rooms tonight, but playing they are and I am a fan of the new Dan Michaelson stuff, so it’s worth going if you’re kicking your heels.

We also have another BAD FUN gig this week, with North American War, Furrow and Deathcats at Henry’s Cellar Bar on Sunday. This will be a pretty guitary one, with Deathcats being more garagey, Furrow more shoegazey and North American War more choppy and punchy. There’s a descriptive wee sentence for you, how can you not want to come along after that little gem.

Apart from these two, the one event looming largest over the Edinburgh gig calendar this week would be Wide Days – the two-day industry conference thingy with seminars and keynote speeches and so on, culminating in a special presentation by the Spotify founders, which could be, erm, interesting.  There are also showcase gigs in the evenings – full lineups here – and of everyone playing the two lineups I would most recommend would be the pretty much diametrically opposed Siobhan Wilson and Garden of Elks.

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Live in Edinburgh This Week – 14th January 2013

edinsnow I am not actually in Edinburgh at the moment, but I have seen lots of people complaining about snow on Facebook, so I used a snowy Edinburgh picture just in case.

Is it actually snowing in Edinburgh? Partly I hope it is, because I love the snow, but partly I really hope it isn’t, because our roof leaks when it snows and we’re getting dangerously close to our bloody living room ceiling collapsing because of the leak.  Fingers fucking crossed, as Mahatma Gandhi might say.

Anyhow, BAD FUN returns this week, back at Henry’s Cellar Bar, bringing you two brand new, freshly hatched Scottish bands, as well as one of my favourite Edinburgh bands, Plastic Animals. Joining them will be The Yawns and Garden of Elks, both from Glasgow and both very new indeed and yet to play in the capital at all. It’s all going to be very alternative rocky, I guess you’d say, with Plastic Animals more shoegazey, The Yawns more laid back and the Elks more rambunctious.

Other than this, there doesn’t seem to be all that much on, as Edinburgh struggles to wake itself from its Christmas slumber, but annoyingly there are two other rather interesting-looking things on at the same time as our gig on Saturday.

If you’re after something a bit more experimental the excellent Braw Gigs are putting on Helm, The Phil Minton and Luke Poot Duo, and Dead Labour Process at Summerhall.

And finally, Future Shorts are hosting another evening of short film at the InSpace Gallery, also on Saturday, should you be after something a little more visually stimulating and with (presumably) fewer guitars.

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First Gig of the New Year: Plastic Animals, The Yawns & Garden of Elks at Henry’s, Sat 19th January

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So yes, we are slowly creaking back into life, here at Song, by Toad and our first gig of 2013 is already approaching fast. Next weekend – i.e. Saturday 19th January – we will be back at Henry’s for a fine lineup, including one of our favourite Edinburgh bands Plastic Animals, and two very, very new bands indeed, barely yet to play a gig never mind one through in Edinburgh.

Both Garden of Elks and The Yawns emerged very late last year, the former with a single on Soundcloud and the latter with an album on Electropapknit Records. It’s a fine lineup of excellent guitar music, and apparently Henry’s has new owners and has enjoyed a lick of paint since I was there last, so I am rather looking forward to returning.

Tickets here
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