LIVE: Creeper – Academy 2, Manchester 25/03/17
It’s an uncharacteristically sunny day in Manchester, meaning town is full of outdoor drinkers and those of a somewhat bright disposition. That is, apart from in one quarter of the city where the black-garbed hordes are descending on the Academy to witness one of Creeper’s largest shows to date as the band kick off their UK tour.
With a four-band bill for only £15, it’s no surprise that the venue is relatively full as openers Puppy take the stage. All backwards baseball caps and frenetic instrument bashing, Puppy lay down some grungy tunes which bring a decent response from the crowd, even if their songs owe more than just a passing resemblance to some classic songs (Alice In Chains’ Them Bones and Korn’s Clown to name but two).
After the enthusiasm shown for Puppy, it takes a while for Boston crew Energy to get things going again. Playing their first ever show in England, the band, all kitted out in uniform plain black, throw their all into New Worlds Of Fear and Punch The Clock but it’s only with The Witching Hour, Another Yesterday and the punky doo-wop of Dead In Dreamland that things really get moving. Nevertheless it’s a decent showing, and proto-Ozzy frontman Tank puts in an, erm, energetic effort.
Milkteeth on the other hand are buoyed from the off by a terrific amount of vocal support matched only by their shit-eating grins. Songs like Brickwork and Swear Jar are dangerously mesmeric, mixing a rapid-fire punky approach with a fuzzy stomp reminiscent of Sonic Youth or Pixies, bringing a classic sound bang up to date in a melodic yet raucous assault.
For a band that only released their debut album 24 hours beforehand, it’s astonishing how well-received Creeper are as the lights go down and a deafening chant breaks out. Okay, so they’ve had a whole load of press ahead of the release of Eternity, In Your Arms and some of the songs on it were seen on previous EPs, but even so, seeing that many people hanging onto their every word is quite frankly scary.
It’s largely deserved though, and album opener Black Rain is an absolutely euphoric live experience, its soaring chorus getting hands aloft and the crowd screaming along to the call and response. The Southampton horror punks have a stylish stage set up, very much in keeping with their purple and black image, and the neon crosses that light up in front of the drum and keyboard risers throughout the set give a suitably gothy glow to proceedings, especially for the aptly named Black Mass and the Motörhead-meets-Alkaline-Trio of Suzanne.
Throughout Creeper’s set the back-patched audience put a very tolerant Academy security team to the test with a steady stream of crowd surfing, and as each one rejoins the throng it’s notable what a wide demographic the band appeal to. You’d expect a large teen contingent but there are older punks, traditional metal heads and indie kids all eager to see what the fuss is about, and you can’t help but put this down to the variety in Creeper’s sound. You need proof? Check out the spine-tingling Crickets, featuring keyboardist Hannah Greenwood belting the song out centre stage. It’s here that Creeper really show how to mix up a set despite only having a finite amount of material to work with, and sandwiched between Valentine and Hiding With Boys the song is a welcome change of pace without removing any of the intensity the band, in particular live-wire vocalist Will Gould, have worked so hard to produce already.
Astral Projection and a poignant I Choose To Live close the main set, but it’s only ever going to be a short break until VCR and what can only be deemed the band’s theme, Misery, take things to the next level, with pretty much every last soul in the room hollering back at the band and lighters and phones aloft. It’s a fitting tribute to a triumphant opening night, and to paraphrase their final song, on this form Creeper are unlikely to go out of style any time soon.