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Thos Henley | Golden Tour


A l’occasion de la sortie de son disque, Thos Henley était en tournée pour le Paris Golden Tour : vingt mini concerts acoustiques dans la rue ou dans des lieux atypiques, dans les vingt arrondissements de Paris. Il nous livre son carnet de route.

(Remerciements à Renaud du Cargo pour les photos)

Sortie du métro « Saint-Paul »

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Lundi 11 avril à 13h00 – Ier arrondissement

Thos Henley - Sortie du métro Saint-Paul

The beginning of the tour. Like any beginning, I was scared and nervous and it did not help that I was standing in such a busy part of Paris. St Paul Metro is known as the portal for all the diverse ways of life in Paris: the fashion shops of the Marais, the hot metro grills where constantly inebriated drunks spurt swears and spit saliva, and everyone else walks around with their head down in a rush. It was 1 o’clock and I played a short 20 minute set to a small audience whilst a tramp tried to hum along through a toothless mouth and teenagers from the suburbs mocked my voice that trembled with nerves. The sun was relentless and my forehead was a cascade. The honeysuckle tree shredded its blossoming skin and my suitcase that carried my merchandise looked like some snowy booby-trap. In the end it was over and the tour was on its way.

Marches de la Basilique Notre-Dame-des-Victoires

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Lundi 11 avril à 19h00 – IIe arrondissement

Thos Henley - Basilique Notre-Dame-des-victoires

Sipping at a cold beer I looked over my shoulder at the unknown church that stood high in the sun whilst its surroundings bathed in the shaded orange of the dying day. I knew this concert would be relaxed. We were in the second arrondisement in Paris in a little hidden cove behind the Louvre, and its golden indoor avenues like roots or veins from the tourist traps that ended up here, where only the inhabitants or ‘true’ Parisians would walk. I played in a large square like place where my voice echoed from apartment wall to church steps and back to the young boy who watched on his mother’s lap, amazed and scared all at the same time. I waved at the family as I finished my set, and here I encountered a revelation as many people had leant out their flower laden window seals and were clapping from above. Such a bizarre audience was to become the norm on this strange tour!

Devant la Brachfeld Gallery 78 rue des Archives

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Mardi 12 avril à 13h00 – IIIe arrondissement

Thos Henley - Rue des Archives

Outside a friends gallery I set up my suitcase in my tweed shirt in front of a Turkish restaurant, a fruit shop and the post office, all the while feeling quite silly. A nice crowd of people had gathered around the door where I started to sing but after a while I ventured out onto the road to play a weaving game of strumming and running as I gamble with the speeding traffic that hurtled down the slim and busy Rue des Archives. The fruit seller and his neighbor in a Fez both seemed happy with my performance and I kind of wished the latter had offered me some classic dish from long ago Constantinople, but alas I packed up my suitcase, glad not to have been hit down by the rattling bells of the Paris buses and left my CD’s and vinyls at the Gallery as I was playing in the 6 hours just around the corner.

H3 Concept Gallery, 43 Rue Quincampoix

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Mardi 12 avril à 19h00 – IVe arrondissement

Thos Henley - Rue Quincampoix

The H3 Concept Gallery opened its door and set up a table full of beer and wine from the specialist shop that it rubbed boutique shoulders with and so started one of my favourite gigs of the tour. Here there formed a nice crowd waiting for my first chord as the sun all sat on our cheek bones from what had been a scorching hot day. As I played, beautiful women danced with each other as if they were in some old dance hall, a man swayed in his apartment and a family whistled from theirs balcony. A rather dirty but happy looking short man arrived on the scene and set down his bucket of liquid and assembled two large rods. After dipping the large sticks into the bucket he produced gigantic bubbles that soared to my overlooking audience and popped on passersby, all with a smile on their faces. The gig ended with an encore and a Leonard Cohen songs. Pure ‘bonheur’ as the French say!

Devant la librairie Shakespeare & Company, 37 rue de la Bûcherie

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Mercredi 13 avril à 13h00 – Ve arrondissement

Thos Henley - Shakespeare & Companie

I have played at Shakespeare and Co around three times and the ‘tumbleweeds’ that live there have become good friends to me and valuable supporters of my music. I remember sitting in my small bedroom in the boiling boredom of hamlet life in southern England, dreaming just of rifling through the second hand books of Shakespeare and Co and so as the honeysuckles once again played their rain song, and I sang along, I realised a painted smile of personal achievement was painted on my face. In front of my the audience sat reading and listening as a Wallace fountain trickled its contents down its dark green structure and De Sully’s Notre Dame lauded over me; the perfect way to start a day in Paris.

Chez le plus beau fleuriste de Paris, Sol y Flor, 5 rue Coetlogon

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Mercredi 13 avril à 19h00 – VIe arrondissement

Thos Henley - Sol Y Flor

I was late, so was the camera man Renaud and seemingly so was the audience. We all arrived ten minutes late with sweat acting as our expressions. I played to a small crowd of old friends and Spanish girls of my age who praised my music but said I should move to Spain where people would appreciate my music more there. I mentioned this was fine for me, being surrounded by every flower imaginable like some tropic troubadour. It was a relaxed concert that I remember more from the flanking smells of the flowers than anything else. Still, I was living the dream. What a tour and what a delight to get to see so much of Paris!

Pont Alexandre III, Métro Invalides

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Jeudi 14 avril à 13h00 – VIIe arrondissement

Thos Henley - Pont Alexandre III

We arrived at my favourite bridge that is topped at each entrance by the goldest of statues one if likely to ever see, fitting then for this GOLDEN PARIS TOUR. The Grand Palais flew the Tri-Colour flag of France as the Eiffel tower sat in the haze behind my bobbing head as I played a loud set in order to sing over the loud traffic that hurtled over the river and towards the tomb of Napolean. I felt like I had been thrown into history as I played my loudest songs to a lunching crowd of sitting tourists, fans and friends. Cameras clicked, mouths chomped, engines roared, and the passing boats underneath whistled through the water.

Église de La Madeleine

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Jeudi 14 avril à 19h00 – VIIIe arrondissement

Thos Henley - Madeleine

Wow. Hands down my favourite concert of the whole tour. I don’t know how we had managed to swing it but fifteen minutes after walking up the high stairs of the Eglise Madeleine (my favourite church in Paris), the doors had been shut, a large crowd sat in the thin wooden seats and, the lights were dimmed, candles were blown out, atmosphere was established and I was singing a new song about the death of a family member at the head of this grand and beautiful church. My emotions had never sat so high in my tear ducts. The natural reverb was welcome and at the end I felt lovingly empty, as if I should have done this years ago. As an atheist, I remember recalling that if any experience were to change my cemented mind; it was this.

Dans la cour du Smart Store, 8 rue blanche

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Vendredi 15 avril à 13h00 – IXe arrondissement

Thos Henley - Smart Store

The whole tour was being filmed by Renaud from the wonderful Le Cargo for a future DVD and as we both arrived into the hidden courtyard of the Smart Store, just around the corner of Saint Lazare and next to the fire station where I had stumbled around years before at the Firemans Ball with muffled war like fireworks overhead, Renaud and I realised that this would be a quite one. And so we sat down and treated this as more of an acoustic session rather than a concert. The result was relaxed and thought out. Once again the outside reverb of Paris welcomed me into its sonic life, OK onwards to Canal St Martin.

Canal Saint Martin, au niveau de l’Hotel du Nord, 102 Quai de Jemmapes

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Vendredi 15 avril à 19h00 – Xe arrondissement

Thos Henley - Canal Saint Martin

I have spent many a night getting drunk to the impressionist like multicolour neon lights that reflect on the Canal Saint Martin’s water, but here I was sober and solo as we were tucked away from the noise of the traffic with a small crowd that had found me. I heard later that many people had come to watch but they had got lost or could not hear me. But I was there, I promise! A storm teased our hot bodies overhead and I ended with a tired rendition of my single “Keeper of my Breath”.

Au Fargo Store, 42 rue de la Folie Méricourt

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Samedi 16 avril à 13h00 – XIe arrondissement

Thos Henley - Boutique Fargo

It was Record Store Day and I played fittingly outside the wonderfully stocked Boutique Fargo to a nice young crowd of music lovers. I wished of buying ‘Outer South’ on vinyl by Conor Oberst but dragged myself away from temptation and walked outside to where my concrete stage awaited. The sun was once again relentless and still that storm had not come. The traffic was infrequent but loud and I felt relaxed playing here in my old neighbourhood. Later as I ate my Bone Marrow and drew from the cold beer of Chez Justine, I felt comfortable in my musical skin. Today would be a relaxed one as the next stop was outside Le Baron Rouge (a wine bar) and the covered market of Marche Aligre; both just happened to be at my flats doorstep.

Devant Le Baron Rouge (proche de La Place Aligre)

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Samedi 16 avril à 19h00 – XIIe arrondissement

Thos Henley - Place Aligre

I played with the railings of the covered market as my backdrop in a corner where all the macabre mouths of red wine from the wonderfully romantic Baron Rouge smiled around me as I played a small set and it defiantly felt like summer. I watched as people ate their dinners and with the drifting scent of unsold fish from the market that touched my spine, I felt hungry. I finished the concert and instead treated myself to a glass of red wine before heading uphill to watch another concert at Le Fleche D’or, never had felt like such a Parisian!

Sur le Quai François Mauriac, devant la Dame de Canton

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Dimanche 17 avril à 13h00 – XIIIe arrondissement

Thos Henley - Quai François Mauriac

The wind was high as once again I found myself on a bridge with the speed of bikers whizzing pass me and the ferocious Seine underneath me. Today I was flanked by the Parc de Bercy and the tall skyscrapers of the 13th arrondisement. I tried out songs I had not played for many months such as “Balancing Books” and was pleased with not only how the sounded but that I remembered them.

Au 9 rue de la Gaîté, devant Les Tournesols

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Dimanche 17 avril à 19h00 – XIVe arrondissement

Thos Henley - Montparnasse

The tall, dark, menacing shadow of the Montparnasse Tower trickled its way towards me as the evening drew to an end. I played in front of a Metro station and under recently closed market parasols with a nice crowd of families and youths. Once again I tried out new material, subconsciously becoming more and more comfortable with the idea of feel of this tour.

Parc André Citroen, sur le quai javel

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Lundi 18 avril à 13h00 – XVe arrondissement

Thos Henley - Quai André Citroen

I had never been to the Parc André Citroen and was quite lost at first. I watched as over me the round dome of a hot air balloon rose higher and higher. As I met Renaud by the quiet waterfront we realised it would be another quiet one as we were so far out. We decided there and then to treat it as more of a session like the Smart Store. He suggested filming the whole thing on the fixed hot air balloon that was a tourist attraction and provided a nice ride to the skies of Paris. After much contemplation and weakening feet my crushing vertigo got the best of me and we ended up doing the session by the Seine. Not as cosmic as it could have been but still very nice, I think.

Esplanade du Trocadéro

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Lundi 18 avril 19h00 – XVIe arrondissement

Thos Henley - Trocadero

The dreaded Trocadéro, where Albert Spear and Hitler posed,where Foch rides his bronze horse and where the suburb kids roam, tacky souvenirs rattle and pan flutes pipe. I was not looking forward to this one. The Trocadéro is the perfect view point for the Eiffel Tower and as such it draws such a horrible amount of people. Thankfully my wonderful Manager Toma suggested we play a little away from the hectic crowd and we set up stage next to a wedding photo-shoot and a kid on rollerblades who was setting up his home made ramp. How we all like to show off (and I include myself in that last sentence). It was nice to play to a good amount of people and in front of that iconic piece of engineering that takes my breath away every time I perceive it.

Devant le Théâtre Hébertot, 78 bis boulevard des Batignolles

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Mardi 19 avril 13h00 – XVIIe arrondissement

Thos Henley - Boulevard des Batignoles

Outside this whitewashed theatre I found myself setting up too early and so decided to start busking. After all this is where I first got the idea for such a tour. Two years earlier I arrived in Paris with 20 euros in my pocket and so I decided to busk outside the Notre Dame, and then I moved onto St Germain des Pres and so on. After forming a comfortable relationship with the streets and my music I always envisioned a tour such as this and as the sun (the hottest it had been all tour) attached my small black guitar and I noted that were only three more concerts to go after this, I felt the flutter of achievement somewhere inside me. The concert was nice and hot and the Sacré Coeur loomed at its hilltop in the corner of my eye, that was our next stop.

Marches du Sacré Coeur

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Mardi 19 avril à 19h00 – XVIIIe arrondissement

Thos Henley - Parvis du Sacré Coeur

I wasted away the gap in between the concerts in the shade-sun-shade-sun-sun-sun-shade rhythm of the Montmartre Cemetery where the trees hogged the sky, and I thought about the amount of people I was about to encounter at the top of Montmartre under the great Sacre Coeur, second in its intensity only to Trocadéro. When I got their my empty stomach had got the best of me and I sucked on my water bottle and then began to play in a large crowd of tourists who were all marveling at one thing. Alas it was not me, but the view. Here one can see all of Paris on a day like that day, clarity overtook where haze normally sits and every building, road, park and square was in focus. I felt like I couldn’t have got this high in the hot air balloon and so relaxed a bit more in my previous act of dizzy cowardice.

Le Pavillon du Lac, Parc des Buttes Chaumont

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Mercredi 20 avril à 13h00 – XIXe arrondissement

Thos Henley - Parc des Buttes Chaumont

I played a shaded set to a lot of people who had been there throughout the tour and was glad at the feeling of accomplishment that reared its beautiful face. Buttes Chaumont is my favourite park in Paris and has a somewhat fantastical feel to it and so it was a pleasure to be playing in front of its old Victorian restaurant and next to weeping bridge that connects you to its viewpoint above the happiness of kids on holidays and me on tour.

Bar de La Maroquinerie, 17 rue Boyer

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Mercredi 20 avril à 19h00 – XXe arrondissement

Thos Henley - Bar de la maroquinerie

This is the end, where it comes to a halt. I was in a merry mood and played a slightly tipsy set as celebrations had already started. I was playing in the corner of a nice courtyard outside the bar of my favourite venue in Paris: La Maroquinerie. I had played on the actual stage underneath my feet a year or so before and it had proved to be most successful concert to date that ended up with clapping and singing along and me playing in the crowd. Pure bliss. And so it seemed fitting to end this 20 gigs in 20 arrondisements in 10 days, at La Maroquinerie where I presented Renaud the visionary with chocolate and Toma the aid with wine. To my amazement Toma then pulled out my own present; ‘Outer South’ by Conor Oberst which he had seen my eyeing up at Boutique Fargo: Such ‘bonheur’ cannot be measured.

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Une réponse à Thos Henley | Golden Tour

  1. Bengalolo dit :

    Marrant j’ai habité juste en face du théatre (etape 17) dans la petite rue a coté en face de l’entrée des artistes

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