Issue 480
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NINE REASONS TO VISIT NORTONS

Sorry to interrupt — you guys seem like you were enjoying a really cool chat about things — but I just wanted to recommend Nortons. Year round it is, easily, one of the best pubs in the city but approaching St Patrick's Day things get, quite frankly, preposterous.

There is no better place to toast our city's strong Irish connection and, in owner Peter, they have one of the warmest and most jovial landlords you'll ever want to meet — an ethos that carries through the entire set-up. Nortons is becoming a cult classic. A lynchpin of the city, doing mad-capped things, from top to bottom. We're a richer city for it.

Here's just nine reasons you need to stop in and check out what is fast becoming Brum's local, no matter where you live...
FREE GUINNESS!
You can tell a pub by the quality of its pints, and Nortons are fanatic about the quality of their Guinness. Staff are well trained on how to deliver the perfect pour, nurturing their creamy pints as if each one was their own child. From the dome on top, to the shtick on the glass, Nortons are proud to deliver what they reckon is the best pint of Guinness in Brum. What’s more, if you can “Split the G” (levelling off your pint halfway through the “G” on the glass — as pictured) in one go, you’ll be able to claim a free pint, and have your picture placed on the “Split the G” wall of fame. It’s more difficult than it sounds, but a great way to see off half a pint, fast.
THE BREKKIE!
Nortons is home to the most authentic Brummie Irish fry up — with a Full Irish including Lashford sausages, Clonakilty black and white pudding, locally sourced bacon and homemade soda bread, plus Ireland's own Chef sauce (of course). Ingredients thoughtfully picked and lovingly assembled by county Solihull’s finest chef, Andy, these frys are the ultimate prize for those looking to start the day right.  
THE REST OF THE MENU!
The Authentic Irish Pizza menu includes Irish Pepperoni with hot honey and white pudding. Pair this with some West of Ireland cuisine; a Curry Chip with authentic McDonnells curry sauce, or spice bag chips with a mix of the mildest hot spices and peppers any Irish mouth can handle. You can't help but smile, even at the menu. 
THE SPORTS!
Six Nations time always brings out the jeans and scheaux types watching “Chuggsy toss the pill”. Not in Nortons. It’s big screens, shouting at the kicker when he’s about to horse it over the bar, and no hint of any “Hein-o-mite for the chaps”. Simply watch the screens, enjoy the game and shout without fear of being shushed. Nortons also support several local grass roots sport teams including Warwickshire Women’s GAA (Gaelic Athletic Association), UoB GAA and Moseley Women’s Rugby.
THE MERCH!
Painstakingly sourced from a local man called Ken, Nortons are proud to provide Irish staples, Taytos crisps (Beef & Inion is king), alongside Club Soda, Cidona, Red Lemonade, and all those essentials any Irish descent adult remembers being lumped with while they were hidden in the corner of a pub over the summer holidays. They’ve even got Irish Cadburys chocolate, with milk from Irish cows plus branded rugby jerseys (pictured) available to buy, and loads more. 
THE CRAIC!
"Live music, late nights and creamy pints” is Nortons' motto and they don't waver from it. The Irish invented the craic (although the Brits invented the word) but it was Nortons that perfected it. Daytime sessions and live bands late into the night, the venue promotes grass roots live music, and foot stomping good times. Expect bands every Friday, Saturday and Sunday, with up to 4 acts on a Saturday from 4pm until gone midnight.  
ST PATRICK'S DAY!
You don't have to wait until March 17 to celebrate St Patrick's Day, because Nortons are starting a week early with St Practice Weekend. Running March 8 to 10 it'll include the England v Ireland Six Nations match, on March 9. Nortons will also be running special offers for 30 days and 30 nights, throughout the month and, of course, on the day itself Nortons will be the busiest  pub in Brum having booked, in their words "every band we could!"
THE INDEPENDENTS!
Wherever possible Nortons also do all they can to support independent brands. That might be tricky when it comes to the Black Stuff but they also stock Independent Irish brands including Galway Hooker Brewery, Muff Liquor gin, Micil Poitin (once illegal, now legal, Irish moonshine), and independent West Mids brands like Attic, Green Duck, Church End and Spirit of Birmingham Vodka. It's not just Guinness. But it mainly is. 
THE NORTONS FAMILY!
Landlord Peter put the pub together in memory of his Dad. Loads of family and friends chipped in to build and paint the place. The bar counter is made from reclaimed timber and a load of Irish businesses had Peter's backs to get the build over the line. Gary from Hennesseys was invaluable, sending pints over every night and the Wong brothers at Chung Ying sent over rakes of takeaway every week for the 20 odd tradesmen on site. "It was an absolute pipe dream," says Peter "And wouldn't have happened without friends, family and community — a debt we feel we'll never repay. And, four years later, our balance sheet is still very much the same. Minimalist." What. A. Pub.
Follow Nortons on Instagram, X or Facebook. www.Nortons.Bar

WIN: F1 DRIVE & DINE


F1 Arcade are giving you the chance to win the ultimate experience at their new Brum venue with one of their Drive & Dine packages. It includes everything you need for a great day or night out. Enjoy all of the thrills and adrenaline of F1 sim racing coupled with a delicious food and drinks menu. Whether you're an F1 fan counting down until the season (and Watch Parties) start or just fancy a cocktail at the Octane Bar, pop down to Chamberlain Square to try it out. It is the perfect date night, family day out or late-night spot to keep the fun going. To enter, head here and subscribe to their mailing list, then follow them on Insta. T&C apply

GIVE IN TO THE DESIRE


Don't know about you but my boot scootin' baby is drivin' me crazy. Might be because Steps have announced the world premiere of HERE & NOW, a brand-new musical using their admittedly joyous music, with an original book by Shaun Kitchener. HERE & NOW will open at The Alexandra, from November 9 to 24, and tickets are on sale both here and now. Featuring Steps’ most beloved hit songs, HERE & NOW is produced by the band and Pete Waterman, and will be directed by Rachel Kavanaugh, with choreography by Olivier Award-winning Matt Cole. Casting to be announced.
Book

HAPPY 60TH BIRTHDAY, IKON

Established as an artists-led alternative space in the Bullring in 1964, Ikon celebrates its 60th birthday, this year, and what a schedule it has lined up. The gallery remains free to all and committed to showcasing the very best of British and international art.
START THE PRESS!
9 FEBRUARY – 21 APRIL

The centrepiece of Start the Press! is a vintage, flatbed printing press from Wolverhampton School of Art, taking its position in the gallery as a form of occupation in the tradition of the student art-school sit-ins of the 1960s, and in response to the current challenging economic landscape. A cohort of West Midlands printmakers will operate the press, producing original prints and filling the gallery walls as work is made in real time. More
EXODUS CROOKS, EPIPHANY (TEMPORAIRE)
9 FEBRUARY – 21 APRIL
Ikon hosts Midlands-based artist Exodus Crooks’ exhibition Epiphany (Temporaire), commissioned by Ort Gallery and International Curators Forum (ICF), originally presented at Block 336 in Summer 2023. Curated by Orphée Kashala, the exhibition includes sculpture, film and text.

Following their Ikon exhibition, Crooks presents new work commissioned by Ikon and University of Birmingham at The Exchange, the University’s city centre venue. This new work, supported by Vivid Projects, responds to the University’s 2024 public programme theme of Artificial Intelligence (AI) and coincides with the launch of The Stuart Hall Archive Project, a new research project that will expand public understanding and engagement with the work of celebrated Jamaican-British academic and cultural theorist, Professor Stuart Hall. More
NATIONAL TREASURES : ARTEMISIA IN BIRMINGHAM JESSE JONES
10 MAY – 8 SEPTEMBER 2

Ikon is a partner in National Treasures, a key strand of the programme celebrating the National Gallery’s Bicentenary. Twelve partner venues, one in each region of the UK, receive a masterpiece from the Gallery’s collection and curate around it, with all displays opening simultaneously on 10 May 2024, the 200th anniversary of the National Gallery opening in London. Ikon presents Self Portrait as Saint Catherine of Alexandria (about 1615 - 17) by Artemisia Gentileschi (1593 - 1654 or later).

Simultaneously, Ikon shows a solo exhibition by Dublin-based contemporary artist Jesse Jones whose practice crosses film, performance and installation. Informed by her research into the iconography of Gentileschi’s self-portrait, Jones’ installation presents Gentileschi, Hypatia of Alexandria and Saint Catherine the Martyr as interconnected archetypes of feminist resistance. This new commission includes sound elements and moving images to create a cinematic space, while Jones also collaborates with Dublin-based dance company Junk Ensemble on performance tableaux that mirror Gentileschi’s compositions. More
DION KITSON, RUE BRITANNIA
10 MAY – 8 SEPTEMBER

Ikon presents the first major solo exhibition and an ambitious off-site commission by British artist Dion Kitson in partnership with English Heritage. Incisive, enterprising, and laced with sharp wit, Kitson’s artistic practice dissects class and identity from the depths of the British psyche, reshaping its visual hallmarks and traditions across a range of media: sculpture, painting, film and found objects.

Kitson’s work is both playful and pertinent, providing a candid account of the everyday. Among the new works presented at Ikon Gallery is Council House of Kitson, a new installation by the artist complete with a pebble-dashed façade, containing footage collated over 15 years that documents the eccentricities of his father. More
ikon-gallery.org 

EXCLUSIVE T20 CRICKET PRIORITY WINDOW


Seven match days. Three double-headers. One big local derby. There's loads to look forward to this summer with the Bears. And you can now get access to discounted tickets thanks to your beloved I Choose Birmingham.

The action returns on Saturday 1 June with the return of Blast Off as four teams compete in two matches on one big day of T20 entertainment. This year’s calendar sees more Friday night and weekend fixtures than ever before. Away from the cricket fans can more expect live music, free giveaways, flames and fun activities for all. The big local derby will see the Bears take on local rivals Worcestershire Rapids (better known as the Pears) in the prime slot on Friday 12 July. Over 17,000 fans flocked to Edgbaston for this fixture in 2023, will you be joining them this year? It’s a gem of a night.

ICB readers have an exclusive window to purchase tickets at the cheapest prices before anyone else. Visit tickets.edgbaston.com and use the code ICB24. But don’t delay as this window will close on 19 February. If you fancy bringing a group for any fixture, please email groups@edgbaston.com.

PUB?


Well, well, well, if it isn't the newest launch from JQ pub doyens 1000 Trades. To be known as 1000 Trades On The Park it'll sit as part of the beautiful Lightwoods House, overlooking Lightwoods Park, Bearwood. They're hoping to be open in April.

The Grade II-listed house had been lovingly restored to its 18th century glory five years ago, with a tea room, community rooms and, soon, a pub with outdoor space!
With the help of Brum's bar and restaurant interior specialists 2G (the creatives behind The Circle at Hippodrome, Tropea, Land, Chakana, Kiln, Loki and loads more) 1000 Trades On The Park will use reclaimed dark-stained timber to create ceiling height feature shelving with decorative brackets. A large feature chandelier will restore yet more of the Georgian character of Lightwoods House.

What about the food? Well the Trades team have joined forces with Dan Lee, winner of Masterchef 2021, as executive chef. Dan has many strings to his bow beyond his signature pan-Asian offerings, and is hard at work developing a seasonal menu to showcase the best aspects of proper pub food with a touch of class.
For a very limited time only, Bundobust are serving up their much-loved Mysore Masala Dosa: crisp, lacy, fermented rice and lentil pancakes filled with aloo dry-fry, served with a chilli-garlic chutney, plus a cool coconut chutney and Sambhar Soup. Available until February 18. More

Brum's Closeup Comedy has announced the line-up for their May 24 to 26 shindig at Warwick Castle and, stiffen the wombats, is it a goody. Simon Amstell, Nina Conti, Rory Bremner, Maisie Adam and Gary Delaney all feature. Details

The Wilderness are collabing with Indian cafe Racer on Feb 22. Could be an absolute barnstormer. Details

New duelling piano bar, Mooncat, has opened at Utilita Arena. Other than pianists battling it out to the death (not to the death that would be silly) expect Japanese street food, cocktails, sake and more. Instagram
WORDS: Tom Cullen

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