Review by Jake Sayer.
After a long hiatus, Benjamin Francis Leftwich has now embarked on his new tour promoting his upcoming album, After the Rain, slated for release in August. After hearing his first album, Last Smoke Before the Snowstorm, back in 2011 and loving it, we quickly snapped up a ticket when we saw he was touring again with high hopes.
Arriving at the prestigious Night and Day Café, which is somewhat of a musical Mecca in Manchester, having seen the likes of The Arctic Monkeys, Bloc Party and MGMT play at some point in its 20+ year lifespan, we were excited. The venue was small and the tickets sold fast. Only the most dedicated fans were there, giving it the promise of being a special evening.
The night kicked off with Ben’s support act, The Lungs. Opening with a song named ‘Barrel’, we were uncertain whether we liked them due to their slightly odd sound – a man singing in a deep baritone voice, playing the guitar, accompanied by a woman singing high, harmonious vocals. As they played a few more songs however, they grew on us. They had a likeable stage presence and eased into playing (as they were clearly nervous initially). They then proceeded to play a song named ‘Julianna Butter Maker: Part 1’, followed by Parts 2 and 3, getting better with as each part unfolded. You can find their latest song ‘Dengue Fever’ on iTunes now. It’s great.
The man himself then came on stage jumping straight into it playing ‘Tilikum’, the first single from the new album. He followed this up with a favourite from the old album, ‘Pictures’. We were relieved to hear he sounded just as good as he does on the albums (a bold claim, we know). It was a pitch perfect, wonderful vocal showcase – he absolutely nailed it. Not hugging the new material and playing plenty of newer material, he appeased our potential aural rage. Mid set, he told an anecdote about how the first album was inspired in this venue, by meeting an attractive girl who he sat eating hummus with (good choice) before going back to her halls and then never talking again. Young love, eh? We at Supajam would like to officially thank that girl as it was a bloody good album! A few more songs were played, and then something which will stick with us for a long time happened – Ben climbed to the front of the audience, unplugged his electric acoustic guitar and thanked the audience for being so quiet whilst he was playing. Previous shows he played apparently hadn’t done this, and he proceeded to play ‘Shine’ with no mic and no amp as a thanks. Without sounding cliché, it was a very intimate and special thing to see/hear as it was so raw and musically brilliant. *Wipes a metaphorical tear from our eye* He then rounded off the show with one final song from the new album which he left unnamed, and then fan favourite, ‘Atlas Hands’.
Good to have you back Benny-Boy!