Gig Review: Creeper at Rock City

Words: Karl Blakesley
Photos: Tasha Shipston
Friday 10 November 2023
reading time: min, words

Nottingham may have been overtaken with the festive spirit this past week with the opening of Winter Wonderland, but in a dark room over on Talbot Street the ghost of Halloween was still found lingering. This is because Southampton-hailing goth-rockers Creeper had crawled their way to the hallowed halls of Rock City, bringing with them their uniquely theatrical live show. Performing fresh off the release of their critically-acclaimed vampire rock opera Sanguivore in October, the show promised to be a spectre-cle (sorry, not sorry) – full of high expectations and a little smidgen of dread, we went along to investigate…

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With the 10pm curfew and two supports it’s a super early start time, but that hasn’t stopped the audience getting down promptly to fill the balcony and half the floor in time for opening act, The Nightmares. Hailing from South-Wales, they set the scene early on performing in jet black clothes and shades, with blood red mood lighting fixed on them for their entire set. Primarily drawing from their 2023 debut album Séance, they impress with tracks From Above, Cursed and Murder Season. However despite Creeper frontman Will Gould appearing on the album version of the latter, he doesn’t make an early appearance - perhaps a missed opportunity.

Things quickly escalate with the second act of the evening, as New Jersey-based punk rockers Save Face arrive on stage in matching orange jumpsuits. “Nottingham, I now pronounce you dead” declares lead vocalist Tyler Povanda, as the band begin to thrash through tracks from their 2022 album, Another Kill For The Highlight Reel. They’re a force of energy, with Sharpen Your Teeth dedicated to all the “moshers and vampires” whilst The Perks of Not Being Able To See Your Reflection sees the evening’s first crowd surfers arise. Tyler then dedicates A.M. Gothic to all his “gay and trans friends in the audience”, stating the song is about “being unapologetically yourself and saying f**k you to anyone who says otherwise.” 

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Once their set is emphatically ended with the album’s eponymous track, the stage lights oddly stay lit as the roadies clear out Save Face’s equipment. As the lights start to flash and sounds of pouring rain and thunder cracks reverberate around Rock City, a Vincent Price-mimicking voice warns all the “daywalkers” they have 30-minutes to have a smoke, get a drink or go to the bathroom. They may not be on stage yet, but the Creeper show has very much already begun.

The spooky sights and sounds continue during the interval, until the audience are told over the speaker system that the evening’s performance has been cancelled as it is “too blood-curdling to take place”. Thankfully its just a troll, and vampire familiar/social media personality Darcia soon greets the crowd with “Good evening ghouls, goblins…and others.” She briefly takes to the stage to give the devilishly excited audience their final warning, before Creeper finally emerge out of the backstage shadows. Donning vampiric make-up, they launch into 10-minute epic Further Than Forever which starts the show off in colossal fashion.

From there it’s a non-stop ghost train of crowd surfers, circle pits and monstrous riffs, as the band steam through the likes of Room 309, Teenage Sacrifice, Sacred Blasphemy and even old favourite, VCR. It’s not even a month old yet but the crowd already knows every single word to every song on Sanguivore too, as proven by the way they belt out The Ballad of Spook & Mercy. As most of the band leave the stage, keyboardist Hannah Greenwood then takes centre stage with guitarist Ian Miles for a heartfelt acoustic performance of Crickets. As the devoted crowd passionately sing the words back to a clearly moved Hannah, it's the first goosebump-inducing moment of the night.

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When frontman Will Gould returns to the stage wearing a blood-soaked white shirt, the thunder cracks and flashing lights begin again as he dramatically feasts on a lifeless girl held in his arms. It’s a striking visual that soon turns into a riotous blast through Cyanide, Annabelle, The Ghost Brigade and Lovers Led Astray, with the crowd’s limbs and voices still ever-present in front of the stage.

We then get an intense drum-off between Hannah Greenwood and drummer Jake Fogarty that starts off slow but steadily escalates, eventually reaching a climax that drops into crowd favourite Down Below. Will Gould then shows off his skills as a frontman, doing his best Freddie Mercury impression as he effortlessly conducts the crowd in woos and cheers. Before you know it, the circle pits open back up again for storming performances of Chapel Gates and Hiding With Boys.

Just like that, it’s then time for the curtain to be drawn but not before a seriously show-stopping finale in the form of Misery. The stunning performance really drives home the special connection Creeper have with their cult of fans, as phone torches are switched on and several audience members climb onto shoulders to emotionally singalong with Will Gould. As the song reaches its peak, Will doesn’t even have to say a word or move a muscle - the crowd just instinctively belt out the song’s gut-punching refrain. It’s a beautifully powerful moment and one of the most spine-tingling I’ve ever experienced inside that venue. 

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As the band depart to thunderous applause, they are soon summoned back out for one final song – recent single, Cry To Heaven. As the synths pulse, the guitars soar and the anthemic chorus is wholeheartedly sung, red confetti then shoots out of cannons onstage, creating a mesmerising sight amongst the neon glow. A mind-blowing finish, to a truly mind-blowing rock show.

I’ve tried as best as I can, but I don’t think any words will completely do justice to what that crowd experienced at Creeper on Wednesday evening. From the pitch-perfect performance and stellar setlist to the onstage theatrics and hypnotic visuals, it was up there with any show I can remember seeing at Rock City and certainly one of the best there this year. Basically, if you ever get the chance, go see Creeper….that is, if you dare.

Creeper performed at Rock City on 8th November 2023


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