Creeper’s journey through the gothic-punk landscape is marked by their dramatic flair and a chameleon-like ability to blend the raw energy of punk rock with the dark allure of goth and the sparkle of glam. Hailing from Southampton, the band’s ensemble includes the charismatic Will Gould on vocals, Ian Miles on guitar, Sean Scott on bass, Jake Fogarty on drums, Lawrie Pattison also on guitar, and Hannah Greenwood adding layers with keyboards, violin, and backing vocals. They have captured the hearts of fans and critics alike.
Their debut LP, “Eternity, in Your Arms,” released in 2017, bristles with a dynamic mixture of punk vigour and gothic romanticism. It was their second album, “Sex, Death & the Infinite Void,” released in 2020, that marked a significant evolution in Creeper’s sound. This album presents a rich tapestry of varied musical influences wrapped around a compelling conceptual narrative, showcasing the band’s willingness to push beyond their established sonic boundaries.
Building on this momentum, Creeper’s third album, “Sanguivore,” released this year, presents a new chapter in the band’s discography, eagerly awaited by fans enticed by the narrative depth and sonic diversity of their previous work.
The Sacred Blasphemy Tour finally arrives at Shepherds Bush Empire and is primed for an evening of gothic grandeur as Creeper prepares to unveil “Sanguivore,” their latest opus, to a throng of eager fans.
With its theatrical looks and three tiers of overhanging balconies, the venue provides a great view of the stage from anywhere. There would be plenty of space if the crowd were not so tightly packed, leaving barely room to move a limb but sets the stage for what promises to be more than just a concert but a theatrical event befitting Creeper’s flair for the dramatic.
It’s been far too long since I last saw Creeper live. I missed a couple of album release shows at the atmospheric Lafayette in London in October for the release of their third album, the highly-rated gothic bloodsucker, ‘Sanguivore.’ Like many others here tonight, I get my first chance to hear the new material live.
Darcia, the Vampire Familiar, appears alone on stage, adding a more theatrical feel and hinting at the Rocky Horror Picture Show. Darcia informs the crowd that, unlike them, they aren’t here of their own free will. Darcia also mentions they have been swamped dealing with last-minute guest list requests, a quip about the late cancellation of the ‘Green Day’ secret show at the Electric Ballroom in Camden. They end with a note on the pronunciation of the new album, “It’s Sanguivore, San-gui-vore,” before exiting the stage.
A haunting keyboard refrain builds to a crescendo. As the band enters, bathed in a fusion of red and white lights amidst swirling dry ice, the gothic castle backdrop and raised drum riser to frame an otherworldly scene. At centre stage, Ian Miles conjures a haunting melody, launching into “Further Than Forever.” This opening track is a testament to their evolving sound – a blend of schlock horror lyrics and intricate musical arrangements led by the charismatic Will Gould. The crowd’s instant rapport with the new material is astounding.
Frontman Gould is mesmerising, commanding the stage and captivating the audience with every word and gesture. His ability to draw the crowd into each song, to make them a part of the experience, is spellbinding. The band members, too, are in their element, moving across the stage with a controlled chaos that adds to the electric atmosphere. The band, dressed in black with black leather jackets and vampire makeup, brings to mind Bela Lugosi’s depiction of Dracula.
They push through the set, pulling out some of their biggest tracks to date, with a noticeable slant to the latest album. “Room 309” follows, and crowd surfing begins in earnest; next is the recent single “Teenage Sacrifice,” an absolute fan favourite already. “Black Rain” leads the charge from “Eternity in Your Arms,” and then another belter from the latest album, “Sacred Blasphemy,” drives the crowd with its killer riff. We get a supercharged “VCR,” always a fan favourite.
A shift in tempo comes with “The Ballad of Spook and Mercy,” leading into the electro-rock vibrance of “Black Heaven.” Hannah Greenwood’s spotlight moment with “Crickets,” backed by Ian Miles’ acoustic guitar, turns into a poignant, crowd-echoed performance, showcasing Creeper’s ability to weave emotional narratives into their music.
Even as they delve into tracks from “Sex, Death, and the Infinite Void” like “Cyanide” and “Annabelle,” the band retains their infectious energy, underscored by the constant stream of crowd surfers.
“Ghost Brigade” and “I Choose to Live” segue into the riff-laden “Lovers Led Astray,” which is then followed by the fast and furious “Chapel Gates.” A personal favourite, “Down Below”, from their debut album, consistently delivers. The main set concludes with “Hiding with the Boys” and “Misery.” The electric enthusiasm with which the fans greet both numbers is palpable. Watching the crowd take over the vocals and overpower the band during “Misery” is a beautiful spectacle.
An encore is not just expected but inevitable, and it arrives in the form of the colossal ’80s-inspired “Cry For Heaven” from their latest album. With its infectious ’80s keyboard beat, the track is like Billy Idol meeting The Sisters of Mercy, with a dash of Meat Loaf’s flair. This absolute killer track provides a perfect, high-energy conclusion to an unforgettable night.
Creeper has shown why they are one of the UK’s most exciting live bands tonight. Their blend of punk energy, gothic theatricality, and tight musicianship, combined with Will Gould’s charismatic stage presence, makes for an unforgettable live experience.
Photos and Words by Cris Watkins