Monday 20 February 2012
It is quite hard to believe that, as a massive lover of live music events, this is the first time I have visited The Globe. Upon entering, I can see that it is a little treasure of a music venue; small but intimate and I feel the perfect place to view one Benjamin Francis Leftwich. For those who are unfamiliar, Leftwich is a singer songwriter from York, and although there are some folk that view singer songwriters as slightly pretentious, with an occasional boring stigma attached, I feel I am not alone in saying that Leftwich is definitely not either of those aforementioned things.
Firstly, support acts were welcomed in the form of Fossil Collective and Ren Harvieu. I must admit to not having heard of either before tonight, but I was in for quite a treat. First up was Fossil Collective, a Leeds band consisting of your usual guitar and keys…and a ukulele! I am not familiar with any of the band’s material but they definitely were a crowd pleaser and got us warmed up for the main event to come; as did Ren Harvieu. With a bluesy-esque feel to her sound, Ren Harvieu is like no other artist out there at the moment. It is quite simply hard to believe that these gorgeous vocals belong to someone as young as 21 years of age. Her short but sweet supporting set consisted of new single ‘Through the Night’ as well as a gorgeous cover of The Beatles classic ‘Something’. No wonder she was pipped as one of a select few artists on the BBC’s Sound of 2012.
After two superb acts, Leftwich enters from stage right to a rapturous applause from a thoroughly packed out auditorium, along with some chants coming from the gaggle of students behind me. He kicks off the main event with new single ‘Pictures’, before being joined on stage with his band. Delivering more songs from debut album ‘Last Smoke before the Snowstorm’, Leftwich proves he is not just your average singer song writer; there is a lot more to him than that. He is full of energy when his band join him on his up-tempo tracks, yet completely encapsulates the audience with his slower material, hypnotising the crowd in a kind of ethereal and mesmeric state with acoustic sung ‘Maps’, which he seeks silence from the crowd for and informs us that he will play the song the quietest he has ever played it. Kudos has to go to the capacity crowd for this, for Leftwich proceeds to sing the entire song completely unaided with only his acoustic guitar for company; you could literally hear a pin drop (or perhaps someone right at the top of the balcony weeping softly). The crowd is the loudest yet upon finishing, to which Leftwich is genuinely thankful and seemingly quite bashful. Not only a joy to watch as an obviously very talented musician, Leftwich also interacts quite a bit with the crowd (other artists take note) and tells us how the same acoustic performance at a previous show in Sheffield resulted in the entire venue hearing a fan’s phone ring halfway through, with Leftwich himself hearing this fan’s brief but entire telephone conversation. He talks light heartedly of this past event however, and you can see just how genuine and nice this guy is. Following this, when his band return, Leftwich goes on to tell us how it is his best friend’s birthday (he is at the event in the crowd), to which everyone launches into a completely unprompted rendition of ‘Happy Birthday’. The noise levels have reached an epic scale at this point, and Leftwich and his band are beaming. The set continues with ‘Snowship’, ‘Butterfly Culture’ and ‘Bottle Baby’ before Leftwich announces that he is going to play a cover, one of his favourites: ‘Rebellion’ by Arcade Fire. Being a massive Arcade Fire fan myself, I was mightily impressed with how Leftwich took one of the band’s trademark tunes and made it his own; definitely a different take on what I deem to be a classic by the Canadian group. Leftwich goes on to play a few more songs, ending with the album title track ‘Last Smoke…’ before heading off stage for possibly the shortest time ever, returning in the blink of an eye for the traditional encore. The crowd go absolutely wild for ‘Atlas Hands’, and this is quite possibly the loudest I’ve heard the crowd all night (even after ‘Happy Birthday’); they are singing along to every single word. Leftwich ends his set with ‘Don’t Go Slow’, but not before thanking Cardiff for being one of the best crowds he has played to on the tour. You’re not wrong there Benjamin.