Review Benjamin Francis Leftwich

Live Review: The wistful tunes and heartfelt tales of Benjamin Francis Leftwich

[usr 3.5]

Weary-eyed and jet-lagged from an Asia tour spanning China, Indonesia and Singapore, Yorkshire-born Benjamin Francis Leftwich performed a near one-hour set to a sold-out crowd at Hard Rock Cafe last Friday night (Jun 23).

Even as the crooked-teeth 27-year-old troubadour battled travel fatigue and the background noise of diners, he regaled fans with a satisfying mix of old and new songs overflowing with gorgeous progression and heart-wrenching melancholy.

The night kicked off with local multi-instrumentalist Bennett Bay who played original tracks off his traditional folk record, Compass. Clad in tattered light blue bermudas, a light grey cap and Japanese hardcore band Envy T-shirt, Bennett performed a soothing half-hour set comprising of mellow harmonics and nimble fingers.

©Ronald Goh for AsiaLive365
©Ronald Goh for AsiaLive365

Even with a broken guitar tuner, Bay powered through song after song, relying on his technical skills as the Lasalle College of the Arts student bore his heart, closing his set with a quick-paced high energy song proving the finesse of a musician well trained.

Awkwardly demeanoured Benjamin Francis Leftwich entered stage right slightly past 9.30pm, kicking off with “Tilikum” off his latest album, After The Rain. In a white T-shirt, skinny jeans and a pair of white Nike Airs, he slowly eased into his set with initial unease but soon caught on even after disclosing a sleep cycle of less than three hours accumulated the past few days.

©Ronald Goh for AsiaLive365

Arguably the male counterpart of Lucy Rose, the buzzcut haired singer carried on with “Stole You Away” and “Some Other Arms” before cordially sharing a story of how “1904” was based off of his relationship he had with a girlfriend from Singapore ten years ago.

Observant fans would notice Leftwich’s affinity for elephants, having one tattooed on his left arm, one, a gold elephant head-shaped pendant, hung from the mic stand and the other in a picture of an elephant beside two family photos placed on the floor to his right.

©Ronald Goh for AsiaLive365
©Ronald Goh for AsiaLive365

A simple set up of two acoustic guitars, a handful of effect pedals and a cup of warm tea at the side, the raspy-voiced performer proved with resolute conviction that honesty and a case full of songs is sufficient to win the crowd’s hearts.

As the show progressed with “Box of Stones”, “Butterfly Culture” and “Shine”, Leftwich bravely got off stage and performed in front of swooning fans who observed with awe and admiration. It became easier than ever to draw audiences into his stories and cut through the hustle and bustle of the cafeteria down the back. The night ended with a two-song encore comprising off “Kicking Roses” and his biggest hit, “Atlas Hands”.

©Ronald Goh for AsiaLive365
©Ronald Goh for AsiaLive365

Even as the introverted performer stayed behind to interact and take pictures with fans at the back of the bar, Leftwich’s warm and courteous temperament shone through. Maybe it was the relief at having completed the last show in the region. Still, I was won over by the genuine performance and a hug from the “Pictures” singer-songwriter – it was sincerity in both artistic and physical forms unlike I’d ever experienced at a show – and Benjamin Francis Leftwich is worth your ear if you haven’t had him on your playlist already.

Special thanks to Symmetry Entertainment.
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