Live Review: Benjamin Francis Leftwich, Rescue Rooms (20/10/12)
When a room of 450 people go silent as one man picks up his guitar you know you are in for an incredible performance. Benjamin Francis Leftwich, 23, originates from York but is no stranger to the Nottingham music scene, having previously performed in The Glee Club and Bodega. On the Rescue Rooms stage the man himself looked calm and collected as if he was just in a practice session rather than in front of a sold out crowd.
He began with ‘Pictures’, one of his most well known tracks, alone on stage, which sparked an intimacy with the audience. For ‘1905’ his band, made up of his “best friends”, joined him on stage; this created an epic feel to what is usually an acoustic track. The songs have a real presence to them with this backing – assured drum beats and harmonious guitar playing provide an intensity to the set. With the crowd quietly appreciating what is a very talented man, the band vacated once more just a few songs after their entry. Benjamin thanked the crowd for being so respectful, and decided to step away from the microphone and unplug his guitar stating “acoustic guitars aren’t designed for these (pointing to the speakers)”. The crowd went silent, to the point where a phone went off and it sounded amplified. Leftwich started playing ‘Maps’ on the edge of the stage and looked all round the crowd as if dedicating it to everyone. The track itself was enough to make anyone shiver: the noise travelled amazingly in the Rescue Rooms, and it was evident that he really did want to please his fans tonight. After each song he played he thanked everyone profusely, seeming genuinely touched by the presence of those in the room.
When the band returned, the beat was once again lifted and the addition of the band really invigorated his songs. Benjamin played some new tracks from his upcoming E.P ‘In The Open’, including the title track itself. The new melodies are refined and the crowd were appreciating them just as much as their favourites from his debut album ‘The Last Smoke Before The Snowstorm’. NME had classed him as a “mainstay of mainstream”, and it is evident from what will be his newest release that he shall definitely stay there. It wasn’t just the new music that was getting a boost, but also old songs including ‘Hole In My Hand’. With the band on stage there was an extended end, with everyone tightly knitted together – “I want it to be with you” and “I want to go home” just some of the lyrics accentuated by his “best friends”. These lyrics themselves are cleverly written and are lucid evidence of a very talented musician. When he went off for the first time he ended with the title track of his first album where he asked “don’t you love me, yeah?”, and it was evident at this point that he had grasped the whole audience.
When off stage, the murmur of ‘Atlas Hands’ was present throughout the audience and it was his final song in a two song encore. For his finale the band left and it was just the man on the ticket. He stepped away from the microphone once more and unplugged his guitar, saying his voice was sore and he needed some help if people knew the words. His voice was flawless throughout the song and it was a remarkable end to what had been an unbelievable gig.
…Daniel has been listening to: Frankie and the Heartstrings – I Still Follow You…