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Benjamin Francis Leftwich Visits The Phoenix

This 23-year old English singer-songwriter and guitarist from York has been all over from the US to Canada to Australia already this year, and tonight made the special journey down to The Phoenix in Exeter to perform. This small, intimate venue was bustling with Exeter students and a surprising amount of local families (I swear the little girl in front of me was no older than 6?!) by 8pm, when Joe Janiak, the first supporting act was playing.

A singer/songwriter from London, Joe is a chilled mellow guitarist who in my opinion sounded like a mix between the likes of Benjamin Francis Leftwich himself, and Ben Howard. He was an extremely talented guitarist with beautiful lyrics, as was the second supporting act, Marika Hackman. Marika is a 20 year-old singer/songwriter, whose tunes tonight were folky and stunning. She was a joy to watch, beautiful and boho and professional in her style, switching between electric and classical guitar.

Benjamin Francis Leftwich himself came on at about 9.40, 10 minutes (fashionably) late. But I don’t think anyone there minded, since everyone around me, including myself, seemed to be enjoying the Bon Iver interlude through the speakers whilst the tech team were setting up BFL’s set.

He was welcomed with warm and familiar applause by the ready and waiting audience, and swiftly proceeded to playing Pictures, the first track on his album Last Smoke Before The Snowstorm. I have been a huge fan of this album since its release in July 2011, and having never seen him live before, I was extremely excited and hopeful that my favourite tracks Stole You Away and Atlas Hands would be sung at some point in the evening.

I loved the way he didn’t just stick to the album tracks that everyone clearly knew well, but also sang songs he had either just written or hadn’t made very well known. The crowd all enjoyed his little anecdote-style introductions to some of the songs and his innocence and modesty was just adorable.

‘BFL’ was friendly and informal with the crowd, specifically asking for quiet before he sang Maps alone on stage with dimmed lighting. Exeter obeyed with almost silence through this track, praised with thanks from him at the end, comparing our audience to one in Sheffield in which someone answered their phone whilst he was playing: “I thought ‘what the f*** you doing mate?!’”

Another more sensitive and heartfelt song he said was about his Nan who had cancer and you could feel the emotion in the room throughout. However, spirits were lifted when he and his musicians performed Stole You Away under a frenzy of lights and strong instrumentals and involvement from the electric guitar and drums. I was delighted and hugely relieved when he came back from walking off stage to perform a few other tracks, ending with the popular and stunning Atlas Hands, my personal favourite. Everyone sung along softly and respectfully, without masking the beautiful voice of BFL whilst he sung some of the beautiful lyrics I think he has ever written.

Georgia is in her third year at Exeter studying English and French Law. Last year she headed the Culture team as Local Culture editor, informing all of our lovely readers about the best events and places to explore in this beautiful city. She may have taken off her cultural clogs, but she is still heavily involved in Her Campus Exeter, leading the team as joint President with Florence Christie this year.When she isn’t slaving away at French law, or updating her Tumblr of pretty pictures stolen from other more committed bloggers, she can be spotted in the Forum sipping a hazlenut laté, whilst feeling guilty for said indulgence and Instagramming pictures of Costa cups. When day turns to night, Monday Arena is generally a favourite haunt or when she is feeling particularly edgy you may find her by the quayside at Cellar Door embracing her inner Cara Delvigne- thougbts of Costa on her mind! Although she never says no to a night in with her girls, watching chick flicks- preferably involving Ed Westwick.At the end of this year,  Georgia will continue to pursue her career as a lawyer, saying goodbye to rainy Britain and Bonjour to très chic France, where she will be completing the final year of her degree. Continuing to follow her mantra of work hard play hard, I wouldn’t be surprised if in in no time this girl could give Legally Blonde Elle Brooks a run for her money.
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