I’ll begin by admitting that my principal reason for covering Benjamin Francis Leftwich’s (oh wow that’s going to be a mouthful) gig was entirely down to learning we were from the same home town, attending schools just down the road from one another. Imagine my shock when listening to BFL before the show that he wasn’t just good, he was great. His music is like velvet on your ears, softly caressing your head as you’re lulled into this wondrously relaxed mood. I don’t think I’ve heard a voice that soft since I had that dream about Morgan Freeman turning into a cloud. After glumly striking out the possibility of cloud-based musicians, I gathered my things, put on my most heterosexual attitude, and ventured out to listen to the talented guitarist with the soft, dreamy voice…..
[Note: My favourite song simply has to be Shine!]
I pause to mention that I had scheduled an interview with BFL before the gig, but he had cancelled due to being hospitalised the previous night with flu symptoms. Nevertheless, the Big Friendly Leftwich had chosen to perform anyway as he didn’t want to disappoint his fans. Upon hearing this news I wasn’t exactly holding my breath for a fantastic performance but, again, I was proven otherwise. Onto the stage walks this tall lean figure, dressed in a grey t-shirt and black tracksuit bottoms, who then proceeds to pick up his guitar and play remarkably like Benjamin Francis Leftwich. Albeit a stripped back rendition, the whole sound felt like it was ripped straight from his studio releases. The soft, sombre voice was no feature of autotuning, post-production, effects but instead was the demure signature of an acoustic musician who knew exactly what kind of sound he was working towards. Leftwich doesn’t play the most intricate pieces. You won’t be blown away by his nuance fingerpicking or complex chord progressions, but he doesn’t need to be as a more complex musical arrangement would definitely detract from his wistful tone. But just because you’re not blown away by extravagant pieces, laden with difficult, mind-boggling techniques, doesn’t mean you won’t fall for the quiet, demure sound of a guy playing a simple song in a soft voice. Quality doesn’t mean being the best at doing everything, it means picking one thing and doing that perfectly. And that’s what Benjamin Francis Leftwich does to a teat.
Focusing more on the gig itself, the rainbow warehouse was an odd venue for the style of music BFL might frequent. In my own opinion, I could imagine the perfect way to enjoy BFL would be to lying horizontally atop a bed of pillows, failing that in a seated venue. However at this point I am nit picking as I thoroughly enjoyed whole gig and found that standing for the whole time did not at any point wear on me. Also suffice to say, the derelict design of the stage at the back of the Rainbow perfectly complimented Leftwich’s minimalist approach. Upon looking around me, however, I did feel slightly out of place as it appears the majority of the audience comprised of mainly women – the few men who were present had clearly been dragged there by their other halves. Or at least so they pretended.
The whole room housed around 50 people I’d say, and I think the small crowd plays to the advantage of Leftwich. After professing to be returning from a hiatus, Leftwich told us how he was trying to reintergrate himself back into performing in preparation for releasing new material. On which note he said he had been a superb audience and so he wanted to do a little something for us. At which point he proceeded to unplug his guitar and walk past the microphone. Standing on the precipice of the stage he performed a song 100% acoustically. The whole spectacle gave a real sense of intimacy between artist and audience that I believe runs throughout BFL’s career. He didn’t have to come perform if he had been hospitalised, he didn’t need to give us any special treatment for being courteous to him, but despite this he chose to do so anyway. He engages with his fans on a personal level and that compassionate side to him is reflected in his music.
I arrived for the gig not knowing how I would rate it but came away excited to see him for a full interview on his next stop in Birmingham.
The music was lovely, simple yet unassumingly charming. Nothing to blow me out of the water but enough to leave me smiling.
Leftwich knows certainly how to engage with the crowd and create that personal connection which accentuates his music.
The ambience was great and the place was just the right size so you never felt like it was too crowded or too empty.
Approximately £15 depending on booking fees. Not too pricey yet not cheap. I think it falls neatly into the low to mid-range bracket that works perfectly as a gift for that special someone. *HINT* *HINT*
Benjamin Francis Leftwich has recently began releasing new singles in preparation for his new album release “After The Rain“, coming out 19th August 2016.
To find out more information about Benjamin Francis Leftwich, check him out on various social media: