In 2011 Benjamin Francis Leftwich released his first album “Last Smoke Before the Snowstorm”. After losing his father and regaining the strength to write new material, Leftwich is back with his new album “After the Rain”. GIGsoup were lucky enough to catch him at The Islington Assembly Hall on Thursday 22nd September 2016.

Siv Jakobsen was the support act setting the ethereal scene for the headline act, expressing delicacy and tenderness with just a guitar and her distinctive dream-folk voice. The Norwegian folk singer-songwriter was at home on stage with her lo-fi guitar and emotive vocals, even giving us a rendition of Britney Spears ‘Toxic’ as, in her words, “every performance could do with a little Britney”. Her words were as powerful as her fringe, and she set the mood perfectly for Leftwich.

York singer-songwriter Benjamin Francis Leftwich started his set with “Compass” and his distinctive almost-whispered vocals were warmly welcomed by his Islington Assembly Hall spectators. He was comfortable stripped back to just his lungs and his guitar, and his breathy, elegant voice echoed through the venue effortlessly. “1904” and “Pictures” brought back the memories of a chilly autumn morning, a precious reminder of the comfort from his first album.

Leftwich stepped away away from the microphone for a quiet and crisp version of “Summer”, leaving the audience in complete awe of his ability to fill the silences with such emotive and powerful vocals. The audience collectively breathed a sense of “we’re so happy you’re back”, allowing him the silences he needed with ease and appreciation. The artist left his soft and powerful lyrics “going to shake off the demons” hanging in the air, only the sound of a few cans opening at the bar accompanying the guitar.

“Box of Stones” is a straightforward crowd-favourite, the crowd chorus “You said I am young, and I am yours”, it’s a multifaceted song filled with uplift at it’s heart. “Shine” is as much a favourite, and his gentle vocals lighten the dark corners of the Assembly Hall. “Frozen Moor” is a memorable track from his new album “After the Rain”, a song he says is about his upbringing in Yorkshire. It has a pretty and jolly feel to it, guitar strumming and picking giving us a feel of the countryside in a way we’ve never felt before; “But won’t you run with me over that frozen moor?”. The new album tracks are full of renewal and reinvention, rather than a fixation on the hard times Leftwich has recently faced, all warmly welcomed by new and old fans alike. Overall the sense of thankfulness was felt in equilibrium between the audience and Leftwich – officially glad to have each other back.

After The Rain by Benjamin Francis Leftwich was released on Vagrant Records on 19th August 2016

This Benjamin Francis Leftwich article was written by Annalise Watson, a GIGsoup contributor. Photo credit : lorna_martin27

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