Gig review: Creeper at Leeds University Stylus

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“I wanna see a circle pit, right in here!” hollers Creeper vocalist Will Gould as he emphatically gestures towards the central floor area of Leeds University’s Stylus venue.

He gets what he wants in short measure; when the band plough into the harsh pop rock of The Honeymoon Suite seconds later, bodies are frantically bouncing off each other like a rather violent game of pinball.

The Southampton horror-punk sextet have just put out their full-length debut record Eternity, In Your Arms this week past; on their biggest headline tour date, they go some way to justifying the hype that surrounds them with a slick, shiny concert experience.

Creeper are not married to traditional punk concepts; on a purple-hued stage littered with neon crosses, and all dressed in black leather, their aesthetic is more Depeche Mode than Black Flag. Their music too, though pulverizing in its pace, is dipped in emo and glam; tracks such as Black Mass and Valentine owe themselves as much to Bowie as they do AFI.

When they unfurl the vaudeville piano balladry of I Choose to Live, it is almost as if the spectre of A Night at the Opera-era Freddie Mercury lingers over them.

The comparisons to My Chemical Romance’s seminal The Black Parade are not unfounded; the group serve up a similar line in goth-edged bubble-gum rock, and their compact tightness on stage gives them a laser-focused energy.

Gould is a charming frontman too, all gangly limbs and long black hair that make him look like Tom Hiddleston’s Loki in Marvel’s Avengers franchise. His foghorn-level voice is sullied with a melancholic anger when he truly lets rip too; on the bruising Poison Pens, he sounds like a wounded jackal, whilst for the meaty post-hardcore of We Had a Pact, his outrage is almost palpable. As they finish with the defiant, rousing Misery, he pumps the air in salute.

In an era of manufactured pop and faux-DIY punk, it is refreshing to see a rock act embrace theatricality. Creeper provide an apt, angst-ridden soundtrack for the times we live in.

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