I knew I was going to enjoy the show with Benjamin Francis Leftwich, but what I didn’t know was how funny he was. Dead funny. Sometimes an artist will take the stage and mumble through his set. Sometimes they’ll not talk to the audience at all. I’ve even experienced painful, strained discourse that makes me pray they’ll shut up. Leftwich not only was comfortable in his own skin all alone on stage, but he drolly deadpanned his way throughout his set leaving us all giggling.
The evening started off a little on the slow side with John Brodeur. With a bit of hobo chic, he gave us a true story of abuse from ‘Across the Hall’ and a lover’s lament in ‘Peace’. Sadly, I found nothing remarkable about his songs or performance. I think it takes a special kind of someone to command a crowd with just you and your guitar, and I have seen quite a few gigs where this is carried off brilliantly. Sorry to say, but Brodeur just didn’t do it for me.
I wasn’t quite sure what to expect at the Leftwich gig. But a guy who tweets that this was going to be the penultimate gig of the tour is a winner to me (‘penultimate’ being my favourite underused word in American English). The place I was going was exceptionally small, so I suspected it was going to be just him and a guitar, no other musicians at all. And unlike my recent Foy Vance support slot to Ed Sheeran in January (a guy also prone to performing on a stage with just his guitar), no loop pedal either. What exactly could this guy do that would shake up at rather quiet, melodic studio offering to make it a gig worth coming out for? Well it didn’t take long to find out. After starting off with the stunning ‘1904’, full of the reverb so prevalent in the recording, Leftwich looked us over and must have decided in our favour. The next thing I knew, he had unplugged his guitar and stepped out in front of the mic. Album opener ‘Pictures’ was delivered, clear as a bell, to the assembled crowd. That started a night of weaving completely unamplified bits in with the regular fuller parts of the songs. I honestly don’t know if this is how he handled all of the previous dates of his American tour, but it was a particularly brilliant treatment for the room we were in.
We got some new tunes as well: ‘Day by Day’, written about the good parts of being on the road all the time, ‘Little Moon’, written during the time when he learned about his father’s illness, and ‘Cocaine Doll’. It will be interesting to see what songs survive to the new album that he kept talking about going home to record.
The best moment? Has to be the encore. Coming back out on stage, he was clearly happy with the way we had been receiving the structure of his set and he hopped off the stage, sat down on the floor and invited us all to join him. It was like a campfire sing-along. But with beer. And a really cool counselor. So there he sat, people all around him, singing ‘Atlas Hands’ like he had known us all his life. Cheers to you, man. Come back any time and sing for us again.
By Mary Chang on Friday, 30th November 2012 at 4:00 pm
For this afternoon, we’ve got a lovely acoustic video from Benjamin Francis Leftwich. He just released his new EP ‘In the Open’ this past Monday, and here is a video of him performing the title track acoustically in Brighton. Watch it below.
By Mary Chang on Wednesday, 12th September 2012 at 10:00 am
Benjamin Francis Leftwich has taken to record covers of M83‘s ‘Midnight City’ and Frightened Rabbit‘s ‘Swim Until You Can’t See Land’. And it’s your lucky day: he’s offering both of them for free download in exchange for your email address below. Enjoy.
It’s great to be back in the studio. I’ve been on tour for the last year so it’s nice to be making new music again. I’m really proud of the new songs and I’m looking forward to sharing them with people. I’m in a really good creative headspace at the moment and feel like my song writing has developed whilst I’ve been on tour and experienced new people, places and things.
By Mary Chang on Friday, 17th August 2012 at 11:00 am
We sent over our TGTF Quickfire Questions to singer/songwriter Benjamin Francis Leftwich, and he kindly obliged and answered them for us. What a gent. The Boss, the Fabs and the feuding Gallagher brothers all make appearances in his answers below. I think we may need to tease him a bit about his favourite funny song when he comes to DC in December, just saying….
1. What song is your earliest musical memory?
My dad used to play lots of Beatles records when I was really young and I remember falling in love with that… I really loved ‘Octopus’s Garden’!
2. What was your favourite song as a child?
Again, lots of Beatles stuff… I loved ‘Let it Be’, ‘Yellow Submarine’, ‘Nowhere Man’. When I was about 8, I remember hearing Cher’s ‘Believe’ on the radio and loving the melody, haha…. Kind of embarassing…
3. What song makes you laugh?
That song which goes “BOOM BOOM BOOM BOOM I WANT YOU IN MY ROOM!” [I had to do some digging and discover it’s actually called ‘Boom Boom Boom Boom! (I Want You in My Room) by Vengaboys, who also brought us that groanworthy, annoying dance song ‘We Like to Party’ – Ed.]
4. What song makes you cry?
A song by I Am Kloot called ‘Proof’. So, so beautiful, I’ve stopped listening to it whilst on tour because it cuts a bit too deep. Really, really wonderful song.
5. What song reminds you of the first time you fell in love? (It’s up to you if you want this to be sweet, naughty, etc.) Ryan Adams’ cover of ‘Wonderwall’. I fell for a girl back in England whilst I was in Australia and that song really reminds me of how I felt. Beautiful song and amazing cover!
6. What song makes you think of being upset / angry? (Example: maybe you heard it when you were angry with someone and it’s still with you, and/or something that calms you down when you’re upset, etc.)
The Tallest Man on Earth – ‘Kids on the Run’. It makes me think of the kind of futility and pointlessness of fighting for young love when it’s just not happening. It’s a really beautiful song. Reminds me of someone special.
7. Which song (any song written in the last century) do you wish you’d written yourself? Oasis – ‘Stop Crying Your Heart Out’
8. Who is your favourite writer? (This can be a songwriter or ANY kind of writer.) Bruce Springsteen. My hero!
9. If you hadn’t become a singer/musician/songwriter/etc., what job do you think you’d be doing right now?
I’d probably be working in Vanilla café in York. I really like it there.
10. If God said you were allowed to bring only one album with you to Heaven, which would it be and why?
Bruce Springsteen – ‘Nebraska’. It’s my favorite album of all time and I’d want to be listening to it
Leftwich is going on a massive tour of the UK and Ireland in the autumn; tour dates are included below as well.
Monday 1st October 2012 – Brighton Concorde 2
Tuesday 2nd October 2012 – Bournemouth Old Fire Station
Wednesday 3rd October 2012 – Exeter Phoenix
Thursday 4th October 2012 – Falmouth Princess Pavilion
Friday 5th October 2012 – Swansea Sin City
Saturday 6th October 2012 – Bristol O2 Academy
Monday 8th October 2012 – Oxford Town Hall
Tuesday 9th October 2012 – Newcastle Northumbria Uni
Wednesday 10th October 2012 – Edinburgh Pleasance Theatre
Thursday 11th October 2012 – Aberdeen Lemon Tree
Friday 12th October 2012 – Inverness Ironworks
Saturday 13th October 2012 – Glasgow Oran Mor
Monday 15th October 2012 – Leeds Varieties
Tuesday 16th October 2012 – Sheffield Plug
Wednesday 17th October 2012 – Birmingham Irish Centre
Thursday 18th October 2012 – Cambridge Junction
Friday 19th October 2012 – Norwich Waterfront
Saturday 20th October 2012 – Nottingham Rescue Rooms
Monday 22nd October 2012 – Carlisle Brickyard
Tuesday 23rd October 2012 – Liverpool Stanley Theatre
Wednesday 24th October 2012 – London Koko
Thursday 25th October 2012 – Manchester HMV Ritz
Friday 26th October 2012 – Stoke Sugar Mill
Saturday 27th October 2012 – York Duchess
Monday 29th October 2012 – Wrexham Central Station
Wednesday 31st October 2012 – Galway Roisin Dubh
Thursday 1st November 2012 – Cork Cyprus Avenue
Friday 2nd November 2012 – Dublin Whelan’s
Saturday 3rd November 2012 – Belfast Limelight