Alone with a guitar...

After the release of his debut album, ‘Last Smoke Before The Snowstorm’, in July this year, Benjamin Francis Leftwich has dominated Radio 1 playlists, festival slots and soundtracks to blossoming summer romances.

His hard work and grind shows tonight and The Leadmill’s Steel Stage is at capacity when Leftwich appears, alone with a guitar and a back drop of LED sparkles.The 22-year-old singer/songwriter already has the ability to control a crowd and runs through ‘Pictures’, ‘Butterfly Culture’ and ‘1904’ with the audience in a reverent silence.

It’s momentarily broken when Leftwich pulls up mid-song with a bullish look is his eye – someone’s talking and he’s not happy. “What the fuck are you doing, man? It’s ok - we’ll all wait for you to finish,” he spits, before he realises he’s not Damon Gough and addresses the crowd as a whole: “That wasn’t out of line was it?”

Bitterness doesn’t fit in with Leftwich’s doleful folk balladry and it’s an odd moment. But all is forgotten in the rolling finger-picking beauty of ‘Box Of Stones’ and ‘Atlas Hands’ (“I’ve got a plan, I’ve got an atlas in my hands.”) to finish his set by reminding Sheffield of just how sweet he can be.

Words and images: Thomas Walton

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