There’s a sense of finality surrounding Creeper’s one-off headline show at London’s KOKO.
The band have long spoken about The End of their little group and they’ve been strangely quiet in the lead-up to tonight, save for a mysterious countdown leading to this show. Billed asking the question “can the city withstand one more callous night in the city,” there’s no way around it, things will never be the same for Creeper after tonight.
They’re not the sort of band to leave their fans in the lurch though, and while Creeper may be thinking about ends, the supporting lineup is firmly focused on the future.
With a single EP to their name, Delaire, The Liar still have the shine of a brand new prospect but that doesn’t stop them playing like their hearts are on fire. Coursing with jagged emotion and teetering about the stage, wild, reckless and full of life, the pair crash through weighted songs that fold, bend but never break.
Puppy have a lot to focus on. Their debut album lies just beyond New Year’s Day and tonight, they blend new and newer together seamlessly. Taking cues from the classics of metal, there are moments of familiarity littered throughout their set but it’s only ever for a moment before Puppy lift it, twist it and take it someplace else. From the jangled crash of ‘Entombed’ through the kick out the jams bounce of ‘Black Hole’ until the swaying wail of ‘Demons’, Puppy beam bright as one of the most exciting, joyful and shiny bands around.
“It’s here now. You better wake up,” warns a faceless voice as the curtain covered stage flashes with strobes. There are haunted house screams, that song from the X Factor (or ‘O Fortuna’ from Carl Orff’s ‘Carmina Burana’ if you’re a little more classical) and a whole lot of anticipation before Creeper even take to the stage.
As the curtain drops, the band stands still for just a moment before Will throws his fist and they launch into ‘Suzanne’. The opening songs fly by in a flurry of scratched punk and unruly abandon. ‘Valentine’s pause of “I’ve been low,” is the first real moment to take a breath but it doesn’t last long.
The only story Creeper are telling for the first half of tonight is just how ferocious and unrelenting they can be. There’s no theatrics, no drama, just locked hand escape as they bounce between their back catalogue. “Close your eyes, count to three, make a wish,” sings ‘VCR’ with a leading poignancy. Creeper did and it’s still coming true around them.
With every song they burn through, the band become more emboldened. Big moves and bright swathes of colour, The Callous Heart has never beaten louder.
‘Crickets’ into ‘Black Rain’ starts the second act of tonight’s murder mystery. Fully embracing the emotion and drama of what they’ve created, ‘I Choose To Live’ trembles on the edge of control while ‘Astral Projection’ burns like a flare. From the hair flick pace of ‘Darling’ to the restrained unfurling of ‘Into The Black’, tonight lets Creeper do things at their own pace, for the first time in a long time. There are no expectations, no hype, just excitement, admiration and intrigue. Untethered, tonight sees Creeper fully embrace the band they’ve always threatened to become, which makes Will’s announcement before ‘Misery’ that much more devastating.
“Of all the shows we’ve played in this last four years, this one will remain with us the longest. Because not only is it the last show of this album campaign, but it’s the last show that we’ll ever do,” he declares as cheers quickly turn into shock.
‘Misery’ has always felt timeless. Bigger than the band, it has defined everything they’ve done and become an anthem of enduring defiance for the cult that follows them. Tonight it hangs in the air, coaxing, comforting and soundtracking this final goodbye. Lyrics are sung with lung-emptying belief, one last chance to dance before the band huddle at the back of the stage and, one-by-one, take of their signature jackets and lay them at the front of the stage. Ian and Will, the last ones standing, embrace before their turn and then it’s all over.
You half expect the band to light those jackets on fire, but instead a montage of their four years together plays out before the final message of “even eternity ends” takes over the stage.
Instead of drawing a line under Creeper, tonight whole-heartedly proved that there’s still a lot of life left in the band. Believers will cling to the fact Will’s speech was a word for word copy of David Bowie killing off Ziggy Stardust, only to reappear with a new album nine months later.
The post-show soundtrack of Vera Lynn’s ‘We’ll Meet Again’ and the fact Creeper have always performed as The Callous Heart onstage will offer more comfort and speculation in the coming months but whatever the future holds, if the future holds anything at all, tonight at KOKO was a powerful, wonderful reminder of the power of dreams.
Creeper have always stood for imagination, they’ve championed daydream escape. In life, and perhaps in death, they’ve been an inspiration and offered hope at a time where both feel in short supply. Even if this is it, their influence will be felt for years to come.
Misery never goes out of style.