As the silhouette of Creeper‘s frontman Will Gould – dressed as an angel – appears onstage, there’s an avalanche of elated screams. The moment the curtain drops, a sold-out O2 Forum is belting out its first chorus en masse: “Hiiiidiiiiiiing… with the boys in your bedroooom!” Blimey. The band haven’t been onstage for a minute, and the horror punks already have London wrapped around their skeletal little finger.
Of course, this quintet are no strangers to instantly wowing callous hearts. The macabre melodies of their 2017 debut album ‘Eternity in Your Arms’ made them Southampton’s biggest export, and then 2020 follow-up ‘Sex, Death and the Infinite Void’ made it Stateside, embracing heartland rock to quash any notion that Creeper were one-trick pale horses. The album bubbled up such demand that, even though it’s been just four months since its creators last graced the capital, tonight still has the impatient buzz of a homecoming.
The band rise to the challenge of their biggest headline show to date with a parade of gothic spectacles. Their rushing chords and ranting verses may root them in punk grit, but the costume changes are pure theatre. Gould shape-shifts from an angel to a leather-clad rocker to a James Dean cosplayer. More dramatic, though, is pianist and backing singer Hannah Greenwood, who gleams in a bridal gown for her melancholic solo bow ‘Damned and Doomed’.
Accentuating the pomp further are the pyrotechnics that fly throughout the night. At their flamboyant best, columns of sparks frame Lawrie Pattison during the guitar-powered crescendo of ‘Thorns of Love’. Smoke machines work overtime to turn the stage into the best Hammer Horror set never committed to film, before white confetti snows down to ensure that pop ballad ‘Misery’ is a seasonably frostbitten singalong.
Still, the pageantry never distracts from the evening’s core takeaway: Creeper are fucking excellent songwriters. ‘Down Below’ – a folk-punk stomper that could march its way into a Frank Turner set – gets nothing in the way of visual splendour yet remains a standout, the crowd taking the lead during its bombastic refrain. Later, Static Dress vocalist Olli Appleyard joins the fray for ‘Poison Pens’. His cries of “Love is dead! Bang your head!” are cathartic hardcore jabs that dart off Gould and reverberate through Kentish Town.
Creeper have a lyric that says “Misery never goes out of style” and there isn’t a better testament to that than this evening. They’ve subverted the Christmas spirit with a dark pantomime, as joyful as it is kitsch.
‘Hiding With Boys’
‘Be My End’
‘Thorns of Love’
‘Damned and Doomed’
‘Ghosts Over Calvary’