Siv Jakobsen, Benjamin Francis Leftwich @ Islington Assembly Hall, London, 22/09/2016

Benjamin Francis LeftwichThis is the first time I've seen Benjamin Francis Leftwich live, despite having been a fan for years. And after hearing the second album After the Rain, it's certainly a performance I'm looking forward to. Islington Academy Hall is the ideal venue for this kind of gig. It's beautiful, yet understated and, although Leftwich has definitely drawn in the crowds, the venue is spacious enough to not feel cramped.

The support act, Siv Jakobsen, sets the stripped back, acoustic scene with her subtle guitar and beautiful voice. By the time Leftwich appears, the crowd is already completely silent. There's applause, but it stops as soon as he begins to sing. One of Leftwich's unmistakeable trademarks is the delicacy to his vocals, and it's palpable just how intrinsically aware the audience are of this fact. The room is quiet. At most gigs, you'd at least hear the occasional muted conversation, possibly a cough and sneeze here and there... but Islington Academy Hall is devoid of any sound aside from Leftwich's subtle vocals and impressive guitar.

So much so, in fact, that Leftwich decides to try an experiment. Can he still be heard without any amplification whatsoever? He steps forward, away from the microphone, and begins to sing his track "Summer" unaided  The clarity is staggering, he can still be heard perfectly.

His performance could be described in a number of ways - beautiful, haunting, magnetising are words that would fit pretty well. He plays a mix of songs from his first and second album; "Cocaine Doll" and "Some Other Arms" strike a particular chord from his latest release, while "Atlas Hands" and "Pictures" remain my all time favourites from his first.

One thing that always makes an act all the more impressive to watch is humility, and Leftwich has it in spades. The audience are all set to leave this venue with their egos firmly boosted, having been called 'Beautiful' after nearly every song. Leftwich makes a huge point of thanking the audience for their support and appreciation, showing that he doesn't take his success for granted - 10/10 for likability.

If you haven't already, make sure to grab a copy of After The Rain. And if you do ever have the chance to catch Leftwich live, definitely take it. It's a performance you'd regret missing.

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