LIVE: William Doyle @ The Hope & Ruin

FKA East India Youth, William Doyle showcases his new guise in Brighton
Posted: 26 February 2020 Words: James Erskine
You may only know William Doyle for his work under the moniker of East India Youth, but the music released in his own name is surprising - Your Wilderness Revisited (an album which boasts collaborative tracks with the likes of Brian Eno, Laura Misch and Jonathan Meades) has been well-received by critics albeit a departure from his former vehicle.

Knowing how Doyle conceives his music (at his home studio with antiquated equipment), it seems fitting that he is performing for us on such a narrow stage and rudimentary sound system. Those of us yet to see him live will be interested to see how he reproduces his structured soundscapes in such a setting.

The stage is set-up for a full live band as all ages filter into Brighton’s The Hope & Ruin. After a performance from Tony Njoku (epic, innovative, ghostly falsetto; worthy of a mention, for sure), Doyle enters the stage and plays David Bowie’s ‘Buddha of Suburbia’ with a solitary acoustic guitar. His vocals have a certain kind of thespian style, as though he performed for musical theatre in an earlier life. This style is not for everyone but honestly quite impressive.

As five others join Doyle on stage, he announces that they will play Your Wilderness Revisited in its entirety. ‘Millersdale’ is the first album track they play; it’s horn-led cacophony, achieved on the record using loops and overlays, lies a little flat with only one saxophonist attempting to recreate it. That said, the ambience created on stage is quite moving in and of itself.

Next, ‘Nobody Else Will Tell You’ brings technical issues. As Doyle fiddles with his amp, the band bops away with a jaunty motif. The professionalism and musicality of these on stage is obvious to all, as the ad-lib melds seamlessly in the next song, ‘Zionshill’.

As the set moves on, the band manifests the difficulty of reproducing music that was probably not created with a live show in mind, but rather, by a prodigious creative in the comfort of his own bedroom. The album’s huge sound, with its lattice-like arrangements and full-bodied soundscapes, hardly fills the room at times.

The set is endearing in certain aspects. ‘Full Catastrophe Living’ is the highlight of the performance; it’s saxophone melody is almost too sexy for its own good. Stunning crescendos are met by a vacuum of glitchy decay, giving way to progressive vocal arrangements resounding the music of Rufus Wainwright.

Though the set has quality on may sides, close followers of Doyle may not have got what they came for this time. We will hope for a little more next time as we turn up our collars to what is left of Storm Dennis and amble home.

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