Every aspect of Sunday night’s highly anticipated sold out show radiated a sense of home for Benjamin Francis Leftwich, the local boy born and educated in York itself. The Crescent Community Venue, far from the city’s most popular venue, was beautifully done up with rows of colourful bunting to create a truly cosy and intimate feel.
Opening act Sam Griffith set the tone for the evening with his mellow sound and humble delivery. On stage with nothing but an acoustic guitar and accompanying double bass, his clarity of song writing is surprising for such a young artist. By the closing song, his intense voice and refined sound had the audience captivated. We are to be disappointed however, as Griffith has no released material. A name to watch out for on the local scene.
With the bar closed and the 300-strong crowd placated, Benjamin Francis Leftwich joins the stage armed with nothing but an acoustic guitar. After diving straight into songs ‘Tilikum’ and ‘Pictures’, he paused to proclaim “it’s good to be home”. As he pulls away from the mic for a soft outro on ‘Stole You Away’ there is cathedral silence in the room broken only by a soft chorus of those singing along, the assembled crowd enthralled by his humble performance.
“You guys have been so quiet, thanks so much”, he whispers to the crowd. As a reward for their silence Leftwich leaves the mic entirely for a fully acoustic rendition of ‘Box of Stones’, a truly magical and intimate moment. His silky smooth voice loses nothing when unassisted and Leftwich seemingly enters his element playing to his crowd so simply.
His setlist featured the best from both his debut Last Smoke Before The Snowstorm and his upcoming album After The Rain. His new songs, such as ‘Cocaine Doll’ and ‘Frozen Moor’, follow in his soft folk style but with an added depth and clarity that reflects the 5-year gap between the two releases.
Leftwich presented a truly humble stage presence, repeatedly thanking his attentive audience, his brother assisting in the wings and his friends in the audience. Playing us out on his viral hit ‘Shine’, he leaves the stage only to return after a torrent of applause. The encore was absolutely necessary, since no Leftwich gig is complete without ‘Maps’ and ‘Atlas Hands’. For the third time that night, Leftwich jumps past the mic to play fully acoustic to the passive room, a charming end to a peaceful night.
On paper, this might have seemed an utterly boring show. In reality, however, Leftwich’s simple delivery and quiet style made for a truly enthralling and intimate evening. The warm atmosphere was that of home, and his success bodes well for his upcoming album and his undoubted return to York in the near future.