A crack of thunder. A bolt of lightning. “This is your five minute warning,” a menacing voice booms out, “there’s still time to back out…”
As the weight of the evening’s impending doom settles over the Manchester Academy crowd, one thing is evident: Creeper have come a long way from their scrappy horror punk beginnings. While 2017 debut Eternity, In Your Arms carved out a place for the Southampton rockers in the underground, Creeper have since twisted their gritty glam-punk charm into something glisteningly grandiose. And this year’s release of the dazzling Sanguivore has served as a crescendo of their goth-rock transformation, cementing Creeper’s role as the punk scene’s ultimate vampiric darlings.
By the time Darcia, the band’s mascot/Vampire Familiar, takes to the stage, the chatter in the room lulls to a halt. The band are nowhere in sight, and the adoring fans are already eating out of the palms of their hands, ripe and ready to immerse themselves in Creeper’s bloodlust world. Darcia has a warning: “we’ve been told tonight is deemed too blood-curdling for some,” Darcia drawls out indifferently.
As the crowd cackles in the face of Darcia’s cold delivery, things are cut short, because it’s time for the main event. Bursting into the start of their nine-minute epic Further Than Forever, Creeper’s growth since their last tour is striking. The vampire world’s answer to Bat Out Of Hell, the sprawling, blood-curdling patchwork of sombre spoken-word and anthemic choruses are arena-worthy, the venue barely able to contain its goth-opera magnitudes.
The evening’s rich theatricality only amplifies the melodrama woven within their older tracks. Operatic grandeur seems to heighten the blow of scrappy circle-pit bait like Room 309, Black Rain and Down Below, redefining their classic emo vitriol into something more mature and gloriously bold.
Throughout, frontman Will Gould seems to thrive in the rich, theatrical world of Sanguivore. As he feasts on a woman’s neck pre-Cyanide, the ghoulish Gould relishes in his bloodthirsty vampire persona. He dons a different flare with each track, The Ballad of Spook & Mercy allowing him to croon and snarl with a maniacal air of darkness, while Cry To Heaven sees him transform into a bombastic 80s goth-rockstar - and he nails every different flavour.
As the metaphorical curtains fall on the evening, Darcia walks onstage with Gould’s decapitated head, spraying blood into the crowd. While fans grapple to get themselves a blood-soaked setlist, everywhere your eyes fall, face smeared with Dracula-esque make-up are wearing blood-smeared grins. As the euphoria washes over the venue, fans take the time to soak it all in. It’s certain that Creeper aren’t going to be contained in venues this small for much longer.