What a wonderful way to spend a Sunday evening. William Doyle is on a tour around the UK supporting his fantastic new album Springs Eternal, just him and his friend Alex Painter playing tracks that have been, according to Doyle’s Instagram, “repurposed…to work extra nicely as a duo, trying to replace things where a human could stand in for a laptop, or strip back layers of unnecessary music fat. It will be a UNIQUE PERFORMANCE and, I imagine, the only time these songs will be performed this way”. Colour me intrigued, as on record there are many, many layers to these tracks, so to hear them ‘repurposed’ has piqued my interest for a gig I was already very much looking forward to.

The stage is set for the pair, a few effects pedals and boxes of tricks, a saxophone and a cello on one side. Striding through the assembled crowd in the main bar space of Deaf, can of Guinness in hand, Doyle and Painter assume their positions, Doyle in front of the pedals and synth armed with his guitar (‘sorry about the buzzing, my guitar is full of bees’) and Painter sat down with his cello, ready to go. What follows is indeed the sign-posted reworking of songs mainly from Springs Eternal, but also spanning Doyle’s work across the years under his own name, and what an absolute delight it is. Even when the tech doesn’t work – there’s a fight with the synth during a chaotic ‘Theme from Muddy Time’ which actually somehow adds to the spectacle of noise being created – it’s a thrilling evening. The cello adds depth and gravatas to the paired back set up, and the effects pedals are used to maximum, well, effect, mangling Doyle’s guitar sounds into all manner of noises. The beautiful ‘Short Illness’, all pristine vocals and gently plucked guitars describing how the protagonist meets a somewhat disappointing end after ‘a short illness’ (inspired incredibly by Derek Acorah’s obituary in a paper Doyle had read!), is followed by the cacophony of noise of ‘A Long Life’ in which Doyle and Painter throw all their soundscape tricks at us, creating a glorious racket that at first feels like it might represent the descent into hell, but the more it goes on feels like it might actually accompany a divine ascent to heaven.

Doyle adds plenty of colour to his new songs, explaining that each is about or from the point of view of a character he’s imagined (see Derek Acorah), not himself. ‘Castawayed’, a gorgeous, lilting track, is about wanting to bury your laptop and mobile (‘we’ve all imagined it), and features the first blast of sax from painter, a man of many talents. ‘Cannot Unsee’ takes on an entirely new dimension in the harsh light of the atrocities being inflicted unrelenting on Palestine by Israel, with the lyrics ‘and the side bar serving us is increasingly extreme/ far beyond the rabbit hole, one scene cannot unsee’ hitting hard, Doyle thrashing his guitar with a new found fury. ‘Soft to the Touch’ enters the great pantheon of songs about booze, another gentle loller of a tune that recounts the story of an alcoholic, melancholic but stately all the same, the turn of phrases such as ‘…and now the dark sets in the most, I turn to my ghosts to laugh and to joke’ accompanied by a blues that fits immaculately. Upbeat bops like ‘Now in Motion’, one of the songs of the year, and the almost title track ‘Eternal Spring’, punctuate the gentler moments with gusto, ‘Eternal Spring’ somehow sounding like it’s incorporated a Chic guitar line along the way.

For just two people to make this level of noise between them on stage is a wonder to behold. The range of sounds they elicit from a guitar, cello, sax and synth is extraordinary, and that it mostly works across the hour or so they’re on stage is even more impressive, rendering recent and old songs into something new and exciting. Doyle is a brilliant songwriter and musician, it would be brilliant if more people knew about him. Start with Springs Eternal and work backwards, and get a ticket to see him next time round – I’ll be there, and it’s guaranteed to be a different spectacle to this one; I can’t wait to see what he does.