Tuesday 7th March 2017
The Limelight 2, Belfast

In recent months, much has been made of the emphatic return of Benjamin Francis Leftwich. He’s back after a rocky few years following the death of his father and his 2016 record ‘After The Rain’ was the perfect response.

Opening acts The Howl and The Hum and Travis is a Tourist play out to an already packed venue. The latter in particular revels in moment, playing to a hometown crowd.

Leftwich opens with ‘Tilikum’, the lead single from the aforementioned ‘After The Rain’. Fraught with emotion, it’s almost whispered at times. He steps back from the microphone. There are no vocal effects needed to pack a punch in a song like this.

On ‘Pictures’, Leftwich leaves the microphone and amplifier aside completely, perching on the edge of The Limelight’s stage to reach out to a crowd singing along in equally revered and hushed tones. This might just be the quietest we’ve ever heard the old Belfast venue.

To an extent, the edge of The Limelight has been where Benjamin Francis Leftwich has plied his trade. The Laura Marling, Marcus Mumford, Ben Howard set have made huge waves since their 2010 breakthroughs but for Leftwich, it’s been a sure and steady rise.

That said, he has some bona fide singles. Belfast is treated to ‘Stole You Away’, ‘1904’, and ‘Box Of Stones’ from 2011’s ‘Last Smoke Before The Snowstorm’.

There’s no place in the live set for the epic ‘Groves’ from the latest record but ‘Some Other Arms’, ‘Summer’, and ‘Frozen Moor’ all beautifully showcase the tense, emotive, frailty and hope of the new Leftwich material.

Again, he eschews the microphone, taking his guitar into the crowd for a singalong of ‘Shine’ before rounding off the show with a short and sweet two song encore of ‘Kicking Roses’ and ‘Atlas Hands’.

It’s been a long wait for Benjamin Francis Leftwich’s return to Belfast but based on the buzz in the room tonight, fans clearly haven’t forgotten the early promise, they’re enjoying the rejuvenated return and it may not be long until he’s back once again.

Benjamin Francis Leftwich Setlist Limelight 2, Belfast, Northern Ireland 2017