Live Reviews Music

Live Review: Benjamin Francis Leftwich at The Globe, 08/04/19

By Polly Denny

Benjamin Francis Leftwich has been a staple in the UK indie scene for the last decade after his first album, “Last Smoke Before the Snowstorm”, reached #35 in the UK charts upon its release in 2011. Since then, in his characteristic measured approach, he has had two more albums; “After the Rain” in 2016, and now most recently “Gratitude” earlier this year. It is this new material that is the central focus, and showcased beautifully, on his tour which began in his hometown of York in mid-March and is set to continue across Sweden, Germany, Holland, France and many others.

The Cardiff date of his tour was held in The Globe, a gorgeous little venue tucked away above Albany Road. It’s dark wood bar and seated balcony give it the sense of a small theatre, which combined with the low lights and smoke machines, creates a comfortable and intimate atmosphere. The first support act, a young Cardiff based band called Oldus Fawn, was already playing as the audience was arriving. Lead by frontman Dominic Griffin on lead vocals and guitar, with backup vocals from Zoe Xusanna-Ping, and saxophone by Jack Mac, the group maintained a lilting, ethereal and intricate tone throughout their set. However, while there were some lovely moments, especially from Mac, overall it did feel slightly lacking in momentum.

Our second support of the night was the divine Rosie Carney, who is currently touring with Leftwich. Originally from Hampshire, with roots in folk, her debut album “Bare” came out in January of this year and is streaming now on Spotify, apple music and SoundCloud. Her gentle and serene presence commanded the room with backing from guitar and cello, however, it was the vocals that clearly took the lead in her performance. Carney is soulful and powerful with an effortless range and delicate, compelling songwriting that captivated her audience and felt very sophisticated and mature.

At this point in the night, as there always is at the end of a support act, there was a noticeable shift in the atmosphere of the room. The crowd started to push forward in anticipation as all the lights went down, and then in the dark over the speakers came a beautiful cover of David Bowie’s Heroes. Unfortunately, the lights from the bar meant we didn’t quite get the full effect of this, but I thought it was an interesting idea and worked well nonetheless. Having entered the stage, Leftwich sped through his first two songs, captivating his audience in gentle, marching synths and acoustic guitar. Only after this connection had been established did he start to interact with the crowd, building an easy, relaxed conversation which felt very natural and authentic in such an intimate venue.

The set itself felt very well-choreographed, oscillating beautifully between his earlier, well-known work and his newer, more dynamic pieces. This was interspersed with lovely moments of authenticity, one song, for example, was dedicated to Carney, his tour partner. Other songs he decided to play completely acoustic, cutting out all the synths and backlights, which created a welcome change of energy and added a very personal element to the set. Leftwich’s relaxed and open presence meant he managed to foster an incredibly comfortable atmosphere which moved seamlessly between heartfelt, moving, funny and, of course, grateful.

Set List:

1 – Sometimes

2 – Tilikum

3 – 1904

4 – Look Ma!

5 – Mayflies

6 – Pictures

7 – Butterfly Culture

8 – Some Other Arms

9 – Box of Stones

10 – The Mess We Make

11 – Shine

12 – Gratitude

 

—Encore—

13 – 4am in London

14 – Kicking Roses

15 – Atlas Hands

css.php