Back in the 80s my mum used to take us shopping in Woking town centre (I still have nightmares about British Home Stores), often a hardy ‘one man band’ would be positioned just by the post office. I used to find the odd contraptions fascinating but the end product quite horrid, if you don’t know what I’m talking then just think of one of those dogs that’s been runover but the owners fit wheels and a frame to it’s backside to keep the lame thing alive. Ever since this horrific childhood experience I’ve always had a phobia of men with guitars and no backing band (understandably I’m sure you’ll agree).
So when I arrived at the Komedia, Brighton to discover a titchy stage and a limited array of instruments the fear kicked in. Sure enough Benjamin Francis Leftwich (for brevity’s sake we’ll call him BFL) performed a totally solo performance which was, thankfully, utterly captivating. Phobia killed, thanks Ben.
Anyone that can totally silence a room of several hundred people with just their voice and a guitar deserves serious respect but BFL went one step further and on two occasions performed songs with no amplification at all, remarkable. He whizzed through his set featuring 1904, Maps, Pictures (below), Shine (featured on SGTMT here), Atlantic City (Springsteen cover), Box Of Stones, Butterfly Culture, Atlas Hands (below) and several others I’ve doubtless forgotten.
Though he did race through his repertoire the gig felt in no way rushed, it just seems Ben avoids the selfish indulgence of long, drawn out live versions that some bands delight in, anyone who’s ever suffered a Queens Of The Stone Age performance will know what I’m talking about. Ben’s gig felt perfectly measured, and though he looks permanently petrified he delivered his set with a quiet but humble confidence.
In conclusion, if you get the chance you must go see him and also buy the album, Last Smoke Before The Snowstorm on iTunes. We’ve posted a few tracks below of Ben plus a track from Daughter who provided great support: