Benjamin Francis Leftwich | Rosie Carney – 27th March 2019 – Newcastle Wylam Brewery
Review and photos by Victoria Wai (Victoria Wai)
This night really was one of those nights where it was wonderful to get down early to capture the full set of the support act and more so in the stunning venue of Wylam Brewery nestled in Newcastle’s Exhibition Park. Rosie Carney is a new name to me and seeing her in this setting was like a dream under the stars, as pretentious as that sounds. I wasn’t looking at the audience but I could feel they were witnessing what I was. You almost felt afraid to breathe in case you upset the mood. Rosie had an accompanying cellist which added to this most beautiful atmosphere. What a perfect start to the evening.
There was a nice long interval between Rosie and the man of the night Benjamin Francis Leftwich coming to the stage but when he did that mood and atmosphere increased. The vibrant chatter amongst friends fell to almost immediate silence as a melancholic version of Davis Bowie’s, We Could Be Hero’s’ filled the darkened room as a huge bright spotlight lights the empty stage (besides instruments) as you wonder when will Leftwich come to the stage. As the song reaches a climax he and accompanying keys player, Lowpines (AKA Oli Deakin) do appear and open with Sometimes from his latest release, Gratitude. Unlike the support act, I was the sole photographer but then another two joined me for Leftwich’s set, which in the environment of the Wylam Brewery and Leftwich’s music probably isn’t the best thing, as each one of our clicks makes him ‘want to die,’ as they echo in the room. I totally get this and just before he starts 1904 he checks in on the audience making sure they are having a good time – and they definitely are – but he also says that he doesn’t mind people taking a recorded memento of him on stage just as long as it is without sound effects as it makes him nervous and credit to him for saying this and in a lovely manner. In fact, the only sound effects we get for the remainder of the night is the odd fan here and there singing along to his songs, or in my case, one fan singing every word back in my ear throughout the whole night. Luckily she was in tune and in time.
Leftwich’s stage presence is something quite special. The bright spotlight shines on him. He is dressed simple. The stage is simple but as he starts strumming the guitar and sings every note he feels quite monumental. I glance at the audience now and then and I can see their breathlessness! Leftwich tells us this night is very different from previous dates played on this tour where the crowds were rowdy and screaming his name, whereas in Newcastle, although we have a reputation, when it comes to musicians like Leftwich we are as he says, ‘so chill’. The crowd, of course mimic and shout back his name but besides this and the rapturous applause between numbers it remains pretty silent, which seems to triple the meaning and the feel of his music. He echoes this feeling as he steps out in front of the mic to the edge of the stage to sing Pictures and later Shine and allows the acoustics of the room carry his voice and half of the audience whispering along the lyrics. Oh the feels.
Leftwich really has had one helluva journey and if he is not thanking the audience tonight (which he does a LOT), he is thanking someone from his team with heartfelt thanks as they each get their own special mentions throughout rather than grouped one. Benjamin Francis Leftwich really is a genuine down to earth person. He is like your mate next door who just happens to be a musician and when he performs in a room full of people it feels like he doesn’t really know just how loud the volume of his music is, although it is stripped back when played live. That really is the power of music and when he performs the last song of the night, Atlas Hands, it feels like we should be in the biggest arena or field, as every voice sings along with him feels like twenty thousand in this one intimate room. This is the moment you live for at live shows.
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