Review: Benjamin Francis Leftwich at The Crescent

Benjamin Francis Leftwich steps into the spotlight - just the one; and it's yellow. Photographs: Steve Cowell
18 May 2016 @ 10.01 pm
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Benjamin Francis Leftwich

The Crescent Community Venue

May 1

The Crescent on Facebook

American writer Walt Whitman once said: “To have great poets, there must be great audiences.” To that end, The Crescent played host to a great audience who enjoyed an extraordinary show featuring talented singer-songwriter Benjamin Francis Leftwich.

The capacity crowd filled the bunting and fairy light-festooned concert hall of this former working men’s club tucked away behind Reel Cinema. They’d come to witness Ben’s home town gig – part of his 2016 world tour which concludes in Hollywood, California in July.

It is unfortunately all too common at acoustic events for the crowd to be dismissive of the supporting acts, often chatting over their contributions. This was not the case at The Crescent.

Adopted son-of-York Sam Griffiths, with his trusty double-bass toting sidekick Bradley Blackwell, captured the attention of the audience from the first note played.

York gets the bunting out to welcome Sam Griffiths
York gets the bunting out to welcome Sam Griffiths

Sam – an emerging talent destined for great things – played a strong set of his own songs, including a couple he co-wrote with the aforementioned Mr Leftwich.

After a short interval, it was Ben’s turn in the spotlight. Literally.

The venue, still in its infancy as one of York’s main music attractions, currently only boasts a single yellow spotlight. Great for moody, low-key lighting; not quite so useful for those of us trying to photograph the performers.

At the ripe old age of 26, Ben has already enjoyed great success with his debut album Last Smoke Before The Snowstorm, released in 2011.

He played a number of tracks from this album, including Shine – a song that was named as Spotify’s most addictive track of 2014.

This was one of many tracks that had a choir of backing singers – namely the audience – reverentially singing along and adding a gentle, not overpowering warmth to Ben’s beautiful solo vocals.

He didn’t let the respect from the audience go unmentioned, thanking everyone and joking that he probably knew about a quarter of them before going on to say that he thought of everybody there as friends now.

On more than one occasion, Ben unplugged his guitar and stepped away from the mic to the front of the stage, giving a perfect acoustic delivery without the aid of any amplification.

It takes a special audience to give a performer the confidence to do that. And this was a truly wonderful crowd who appreciated an extremely talented performer.