Benjamin Francis Leftwich is the epitome of a nice man. He is currently carving a groove playing nice music. Walking onto the HMV Ritz stage, t-shirt sporting a jolly teddy bear, Leftwich faced a highly appreciative audience of 14-year-olds. They shrieked with delight as he embarked on ‘Pictures’ from his album The Last Smoke Before the Snowstorm. Leftwich heroically breathed his way through the track, amidst a softly curling cloud of dry ice and his gelled hair haloed by the lights. ‘Shine’ opened with the daring addition of a typewriter to the stage. Leftwich prodceeded to ‘play’ it and even multi-tasked, striking an intense pose for the gig photographer.
We were treated to the explanation behind ‘Manchester Snow’, a song about “a girl from Manchester that I had intercourse with 23 times in one week” Leftwich said, proudly brandishing a lone finger. A sultry ode, he cherished the syllables longer than seemed humanly possible. The high-pitched audience couldn’t help but chatter loudly throughout – it was so totes emosh.
What happened next came as a real surprise: the band departed and Leftwich moved right forward to play ‘Maps’, free of the microphone. A hush fell, the applause was uproarious, then someone shouted, “I would have you UP THE BUM”, and the spell was somewhat broken. The rest of the gig was so notable, it would be hard to describe; in one really special moment Leftwich confided that he felt like a “magical fucking snow dragon” and a teenage girl, poured over the front rail, fanning herself. Who would have guessed the encore would be ‘Atlas Hands’, Leftwich’s biggest hit and the summation of his whimsical oeuvre. What a nice way to end.