Creeper are very much a concept band- their dramatic style and aesthetic a joy to watch. Their 2017 has been nothing short of a whirlwind of greatness; having released their debut album, played the Download Festival main stage and then a full stint on the world famous Warped tour in the US their year is being rounded off with a headline tour in some of the UKs best theatrical music venues.
The Manchester Albert Hall is an interesting venue. The grade II listed building is a converted chapel situated in the heart of Manchester City Centre, and tonight the Creeper Cult are performing a ritual of rock as the ‘Theatre of Fear’ stops by the north of England.
If the singalong of Welcome To The Black Parade by My Chemical Romance before the band even take to the stage is anything to go by then tonight is going to be a party.
The backdrop of ‘The Southampton World’s Fair 1967’ is draped along the back of the stage (more information on this can be found HERE as a poem is read out.) If you didn’t think Creeper could get any more theatrical then you’re wrong- cue James Scythe (a character who the band is documenting through their music, videos and more recently a book) appearing on stage reciting the poem and Madeline (again another character from their videos) appearing at the back of the stage as the scenery changes to a large image of ‘The Stranger’. Madeline narrates the spoken word at the start of Black Rain as the band take to the stage, the room erupts with excitement as this seems to be the culmination of over a year and half of storyline- yet we still don’t get a clear answer on what happens next… come on Creeper!
Black Rain is a superb opener for the show, there are immediate singalongs; the sextet super cohesive, bouncing off each other’s energy and already there are quite a few crowd surfers flinging themselves over the barricade. Gothic-ly named Winona Forever gets its first outing in the UK on this tour and the almost pop rock ditty gets everyone dancing in the pews. Suzanne, the first song released from the Eternity In Your Arms era goes down as the loudest of the set so far but it’s quickly beaten as the band further gee up the audience by asking them to scream “woooaahhs” before the start of Down Below.
Four members of the band depart leaving keyboardist and backing vocalist Hannah Greenwood and guitarist Ian Miles for the heart shattering number Crickets. Greenwood has an incredible growl to her vocals that should be highly commended- perfectly suitable for the heart breaking story behind the lyrics. Miles and Greenwood harmonies are unreal, this is a real highlight of the evening. The full band returns for Hiding With Boys with a stunning slower start- leaving room for a choir-esque singalong from the Manchester crowd, front man Will Gould has elements of David Bowie and Freddie Mercury in his showmanship, there is a flamboyance in his character- Gould will go down in history as one of the greatest front men of the newer generation of rockers. Older tracks Lie Awake and Astral Projection are staples in a Creeper setlist and as always never disappoint.
“It’s been a fucked up few months in our scene let’s be honest with that… it seems to me that we have a few choices to make, a choice not to be afraid, a choice not to be a shithead and most importantly a choice to live!” Cue I Choose To Live, a song with a poignant message about celebrating life even in the darkest of times; a real emotional moment of the set, the lyrics evidently hitting home with a lot of audience members here tonight.
Returning for the encore with Black Mass, the punk rock banger is only short but packs the biggest punch of the night so far. Before the band can even begin to think about ending their show tonight, the crowd chant out three letters to the band… VCR. Creeper cannot deny the audience of the chance to hear this Creeper classic and as the band find out they have time to perform it, they do so in style. To conclude the evening the band performs Misery, ending what has been a real spectacle and enjoyment to watch from start to finish. This band justify every good thing that comes their way, they have grafted hard over the past couple of years- playing tiny venues to many support slots, relentlessly touring to get the name Creeper onto everyone’s lips. This performance tonight seemed like the finale of the Eternity in Your Arms era for the band and it’s been a real joy watching this band deservedly rise to the top of their game and become one of the best British rock bands of certainly this generation but possibly of years to come.