Woking’s Employed To Serve brought their A-game for this album launch show (which was paired with a release day gig in London the previous night) for Eternal Forward Motion, the hotly-tipped hardcore quintet’s marvellous third full-length
For the evening’s early start, the first band of the night, Haggard Cat provided an enjoyable introduction to proceedings. The pensive crowd may have taken a bit of coaxing from guitarist/vocalist Matt Reynolds to move forward and take to the floor, but by halfway through the duo’s show the room had filled out some and the Saturday night crowd was more than willing to oblige. Peppering their lively blues-noise-rock set with between-song patter, Haggard Cat looked to be enjoying themselves as they belted out the stomp of “Grave Digger” and the stop-start of “Bad News (Travels Fast)” on a much-needed return to Glasgow.
Liverpool’s Loathe were up next and buoyed by their commanding frontman Kadeem France they endeared themselves to the now busy Classic Grand crowd. Whirling around the stage, arms aloft, France and his bandmates upped the ante set by Haggard Cat with a bouncy blast of Deftones influenced metalcore. Fresh from supporting Hollywood Undead, the energetic quintet had a sizeable pocket of fans singing along to guitarist Erik Bickerstaffe’s clean vocals, and their groove-laden riffs spurned the first real movement within the crowd.
Suitably warmed up by Loathe, the yearning crowd surged forward during Employed To Serve’s opening riff of “Eternal Forward Motion”, encroaching onto the barrierless stage and commencing the spate of stage-divers and crowd-surfers. Their passionate set was a downright crowd-pleaser, and for a gig in support of new album Eternal Forward Motion, the Woking hardcore crew lifted the show mostly from their 2017 album The Warmth Of A Dying Sun. The five new songs still went down a storm – lead singles “Force Fed”, “Harsh Truth” and the aforementioned “Eternal Forward Motion” had clearly had just enough time with listeners already as the baying crowd screamed nearly every word and anticipated each of Sammy Urwin and Richard Jacob’s crushing riffs and bludgeoning breakdowns.
Even though this is music that is thematically steeped in bile and anger at the state of modern Britain, Employed To Serve’s set was immensely enjoyable to watch – drummer Robbie Back was immense behind the kit and the other members gleefully moved around the tight stage, attacking their instrument and goading the crowd for more. The band’s onstage intensity was reciprocated by the crowd – there were moments when multiple bodies were clinging to the beams on the ceiling – and everyone was having a great time. (Except maybe the two members of security that had a really hard time trying to contain the crowd’s enthusiasm and even with some effort couldn’t stop the indefatigable stage-divers and crowd-surfers from hanging from the rafters…)
Vocalist Justine Jones had to take a step back from the threshold at points, catching her breath and surveying the chaos before she returned to standing toe-to-toe with a throng that roared along to all of her throat-lacerating screams. By the time that the final throes of “I Spend My Days (Wishing Them Away)” faded out, it was the turn of the crowd to goad the band, calling for an encore that eventually came in the form of the ferocious “Never Falls Far”.
I had a quick chat with Justine at the merch table afterwards and she was absolutely beaming. Both her and bassist Marcus Gooda seemed surprised and genuinely appreciative of the zealous Glasgow crowd’s energy. I’m not alone in thinking that this period marks a huge stepping stone for Employed To Serve, they’re still a young band and yet their years of grafting are paying off. If this show was anything to go by, Employed To Serve are more than ready to break out from the underground and have both the ability as well as the determination to be playing bigger venues.