East India Youth @ King Tut's, 31 January

Live Review by Bram E. Gieben | 10 Feb 2014

William Doyle, aka East India Youth, enters dressed in a foppish jacket, hair in his eyes, and straps on a bass guitar. From the minute his fingers touch the keys of his MIDI synth, he is completely lost in the moment, recreating the tightly locked arpeggios of Glitter Recession, allowing them to build and coalesce into an explosively euphoric Dripping Down.

Where his recorded output puts the emphasis on the layered, harmonised, multi-part vocals that make up each song's architecture, here the focus is on Doyle's voice, unadorned with FX. It is admirably fit for purpose – a strong and moving tenor with just a hint of vibrato. As a songwriter, his compositions owe as much to classic 60s pop as they do to more experimental, avant garde song structures and the linear crescendoes of techno. Live, their traditionalism is thrown into sharp relief.

Just as the audience gets used to the relatively safe, verse-chorus-verse territory of Dripping Down, Doyle unleashes deep, bass and synth-driven, throbbing takes on the Total Strife Forever suite, interspersed by the curious waltz timing of Looking For Someone, which draws rapturous cheers from the crowd. It all culminates in an emotionally wrenching Heaven How Long, Doyle pushing his voice to its limits. This drops down into a throbbing, all too brief acid techno excursion into Hinterland. Throughout, Doyle's manic, thrashing dance and frenetic headbanging convey the sense of a man lost in a blinding flash of creation and release – and for most of the night, we're right there with him.