Featured image and gallery: Ameena Ceesay
Since their 2014 debut, Southampton-based rock band Creeper have been no strangers to Manchester’s music scene, which has become a recurring stomping ground on their tour schedule. Recently appearing at HMV Arndale for an in-store performance and album signing, they’re now back in familiar territory to face a Manchester Academy crowd buzzing with energy.
Before Creeper steal the show, support acts come in the form of New Jersey rockers Save Face and Welsh band The Nightmares. Save Face are fronted by a vocalist with an erratic stage presence and mid-performance, they dim the strobe lights to share some sentiments in support of the LGBTQ+ community. However that’s as far as compliments go, as their set fails to ignite the crowd. The Nightmares mostly suffered from the same issue, yet they managed to get the crowd fired up with frequent calls and responses and a set design consisting of burning candles and dead flowers to match their gothic allure. They are definitely a band to keep your eyes on.
The brood behind the barricade are going ballistic as the main event arrives. A curtain masks the stage as Darcia the Vampire Familiar, Creeper’s ‘helper’, makes a brief cameo and after some theatrics, the band appear kitted out in signature leather jackets but not their signature aviators. Instead they are traded in for painted faces, not quite the revamp (pun intended) of the style of The Sisters Of Mercy, a comparison not lost on most critics in more ways than just aesthetics.
One of the setlist tracks most akin to the Sisters of Mercy is ‘Black Heaven’, taken from their latest album Sanguivore, although the similarities aren’t as blatant as many would have you believe. Take a Sisters song such as ‘Lucretia My Reflection’ or even ‘Black Planet,’ which are haunting and operatic (typical of most goth tracks being pumped out in the 80s), whereas Black Heaven has a synth groove to it, Andrew Eldridge-esque baritones aside. That said, they are more adjacent than the majority of their other songs. ‘Further Than Forever’ and ‘Ghost Brigade’ are also featured tonight, and can be likened to bands such as Bring Me The Horizon and My Chemical Romance which, in parts, can veer into the generic.
However, the actual music can almost be placed on the back burner in favour of the performance’s mind-blowing delivery. Songs of old and new are all received positively and they command the stage in their manoeuvers, sinking their teeth into this congregation from the very beginning and never letting up.
The crowd’s adoration of Creeper is clear, from crowd surfing to consistent sing-alongs, which occur from the crisp performance of upbeat tracks (‘Room 309’) all the way through to ballads (‘Crickets’). The show also delivers a drum solo and an unintended interlude where the prime suspect of a drink thrown on stage is booed out the venue. Before launching into their single ‘Cyanide’, lead vocalist Will Gould sucks the blood out of a mannequin and undergoes a change in costume.
By the time the concluding encore of ‘Cry for Heaven’ reaches, neither the swarm nor its conductor misses a beat. Creeper’s intense ‘The Sacred Blasphemy’ tour schedule doesn’t look to be slowing any time soon but regardless, this pit stop delivers a hell of a show for their Manchester faithful.