Benjamin Francis Leftwich
Seeking refuge from steady driving rain outside and buoyed by the collective body heat in the packed arena, the assembled crowd for the much talked about Benjamin Francis Leftwich are a-buzz. Chatter fills the air, strangers stand tightly together glancing shoulders, whilst a dull, ever-changing galaxy of phone screens push pockets of light into the crowd as attendees constantly check the minutes they need to wait before they see the celebrated singer-songwriter.
As the compere announces Leftwich's imminent arrival on stage, a rapturous applause - dispersed with equal cheers and screams - raises skyward and fills the lofty domed heights of the Festival Republic tent. Announcing a simple "Hey" as he takes his place on the deceptively small platform, the roar from the audience rises again for the solitary figure on stage.
Despite festival-goers being soaked through, bedraggled and certainly longing for warmth and comfort, they seem to have found it in the words and breathy refrains of Leftwich. As he gently sways with the music, carried by the slow sensitive drive of his own hand, he entrances the audience with the unadulterated quixotic sheen of his sound.
'Pictures' and 'Box of Stones' send the crowd into a muted frenzy (this is no hardcore gig) of fluid limbs, hands on chests and sing-along smiles, whilst 'Butterfly Culture' seems to stall the audience into listening intently at the delicate construction and combination of words and finger picking wafting through the tent.
As the closing bars of the swoon-some 'Atlas Hands' brings the set to a close, arms are held aloft in celebration and the shrill sound of sharp handclaps punctures the air, filled moments before with such warmth. Although clothes may be have been dampened, for those who watched the half hour set in the cosily packed Festival Republic tent, spirits certainly were not.