Louis Brennan – The Greenwich Pensioner – 18th March 2019

I am drunk. On a Monday night. This is evidently not a good thing. Even if I make excuses in my own head and try to justify it all by saying it’s just my St. Patrick’s Day one day late this is far from convincing. 

I have an excuse of sorts; it’s another gig in this fair city and a new venue for Sonic Breakfast. The Greenwich Pensioner, out Poplar way, has had a makeover. Energetic new owners have lined up a tasty range of beer, a fine pizza menu and a set of live gigs that are not to be sniffed at. “I’m just booking things that I hear and like“, says the Northern proprietor. “We’ve not even got a PA. I don’t know what one is“, she adds, in a refreshingly honest moment.

You suspect though that these are people of good taste. And they’ve struck lucky with their first booking, Louis Brennan, even if the crowds aren’t exactly flocking in to support. Louis has been featured on Sonic Breakfast before (here). He’s got the quality to be playing venues much bigger and the select few know they’re getting a treat.

“I hope everybody likes depressing music“, he says by way of opening banter. A table of beer-swillers having a few post-work pints show their opposition by raising the level of their conversation. Louis wears them down by attrition and a few songs in, they leave. 

His voice, baritone gold, is one to get lost in. Sat on a bar-stool in the corner of this square and open room, Louis picks away on his guitar playing new songs and old songs. It really is all sorts of lovely. Ideas flow from lyrics with such speed that it’s sometimes not possible to keep up with this master poet-raconteur. It’s like discovering that Leonard Cohen is alive and well and playing a secret show at your much loved local.

Louis declares that he was going to play three half-hour sets but will now settle for two 45 minute halves. “It’s like a paper round where you’re diligently delivering the free papers rather than throwing them in the hedge“, he suggests whilst stoically working through his set-list and wondering if anybody actually cares.

But we do. This is a night of unplugged joy, a Monday night delight for the discerning. As Louis draws things to a close, a local group of Kendo enthusiasts come into the pub in an altogether surreal quadrupling of the punters present. Their menacing looking swords are sheathed but Louis doesn’t risk alienating them by playing on.

Beer is drunk. The wonderful Wild Brew beer at 6.6% is not one for a Monday night session. But it’s too tasty to not test. Taxis are booked. This hangover will hurt at work tomorrow. 

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