Gig review: Benjamin Francis Leftwich, O2 ABC, Glasgow

HE’S STILL lacking the critical support granted such emerging peers as Daughter or Keaton Henson, but Benjamin Francis Leftwich might yet be swept to success on a wave of acclaim like that which recently brought Ben Howard two Brit awards.

Benjamin Francis Leftwich

O2 ABC, Glasgow

Star rating: * * *

More than two years spent touring his debut album Last Smoke Before the Snow Storm has quietly taken this 23-year-old York singer-songwriter to a point where he’s headlining sizeable venues. He’s not quite filling them, mind – ABC1 can’t have even been at half-capacity. But as the tousle-haired lad huskily wooed a reverent crowd with the undeniably pretty Pictures, it was easy to imagine a full house every bit as rapt. In any case, this was a major step on from his first show in Glasgow when, as Leftwich recalled, he played King Tut’s bar to an audience of one and was supported by a pub quiz.

With his three-piece band bringing an amplified edge, there was a distinct hint of Ryan Adams’ rootsy Americana about certain numbers – the sighing pedal-steel guitar ornamented Manchester Snow for one. As a soloist – and Maps sung unplugged from the edge of the stage to pin-drop quiet well evidenced his powers in that regard – at his best Leftwich touches on a little of Elliot Smith’s cathartic acoustica.

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A wimpy cover of Arcade Fire’s Lies could probably have been disposed of, and Stole You Away recalled the plodding post-Britpop torpor of early-noughties Travis.

Much better, come the encore, was Atlas Hands – a song that sounds one smart sync in a trendy indie movie away from making a big star of Leftwich.