Creeper at Dreamland Ballroom, 15/03/24

The goth punks transform Margate’s sleepy shores into a vampiric wonderland

A backdrop depicting bats against a full moon, two bass drums emblazoned with skull prints, and a room filled with assembled misfits dancing the ‘Time Warp’ together – before a single soul sets foot onstage, Creeper have made their arrival in Margate.

The inaugural night of a run of intimate shows in lesser visited areas of the UK, The 12 Days Of Night Tour comes at a pivotal moment for the Southampton punks. Marking the apex of their goth-rock evolution with vampiric 2023 album Sanguivore, they’ve undergone a profound transformation, reimagining their gritty glam-punk charm into something glisteningly grandiose.

Their dazzling, theatrical latest era is given a worthy chance to shine tonight, the band members smeared with black face paint and clad in leather jackets. From bombastic 80’s-soaked anthem ‘Cry To Heaven’ to the synthwave buzz of ‘Lovers Led Astray’, as frontman William Von Ghould strolls across the stage with a blood-stained mouth and dark sunglasses, he seems remarkably at home.

Guiding the audience through their vampiric realm, there’s no denying Creeper’s mastery of the macabre. Nick Cave-esque ‘The Ballad of Spook & Mercy’ sees Von Ghould execute his sinister storytelling, ‘Teenage Sacrifice’ spotlights guitarist Ian Miles’ dazzling heavy metal solos, and a rare outing of mournful gothic ballad ‘Ghosts Over Cavalry’ sees keyboardist Hannah Greenwood take over vocal duties. 

In true Creeper style though, their journey through the depths of darkness is punctuated by moments of raw emotion and vulnerability. Greenwood’s affecting vocals remaining at the forefront for stark acoustic 2017 cut ‘Crickets’, the band constantly serve up reminders of the humanity beneath the theatrics. Unveiling the positive affirmations of powerful track ‘I Choose To Live’ for the first time since 2018, by the time limbs are making their way into the air for chants of “God can’t save us” during ‘Annabelle’, a feeling of unity radiates through the room.

Cementing their rise from scrappy horror punk misfits to gothic rock icons, nine-minute epic ‘Further Seems Forever’ rounds out the evening with a striking reminder of their sonic growth. A sprawling rock opera serving as a love letter to Bonnie Tyler and ‘Bat Out Of Hell’, its grandiosity reaches its crescendo shortly before the sombre notes of fan-favourite track ‘Misery’ echo through the venue. The biggest singalong of the night bringing a moment of levity amidst the darkness, Von Ghould makes a promise to return to Margate, but next time – he wants the funfair to be open. 

Likely one of the final chances to witness their spooky shenanigans in venues this intimate, as the lights come up to the iconic sound of ‘The Phantom Of The Opera’ and make-up smeared faces scramble to grab a setlist, it’s evident that Creeper’s almighty reign as the punk scene’s vampiric idols is only just beginning.

Creeper continue their 2024 tour until 28 March. Find tickets here.

Photo credit: Jack Holland