Academy, Glasgow, August 24 * * * *

It’s two years since Eels last appeared in Glasgow. Tonight the five-piece, resplendent in beards and shades, returned with a new album to promote – Tomorrow Morning – their second this year.

Led by songwriter Mark Oliver Everett, better known as E, there was a distinctly reverential atmosphere in the air tonight as the band seamlessly worked their way through a career-spanning set.

But it wasn’t to be your standard performance where songs are faithfully reproduced note for note, instead new arrangements featured prominently giving songs like Mr E’s Beautiful Blues, played to the tune of Twist and Shout, My Beloved Monster and In My Dreams a new slant.

The approach added a sense of occasion to proceedings. E didn’t have to do much talking, instead the music and his well-honed band, were left to shine.

Spectacular Girl was easily the pick of the new material while for its extended, guitar-fuelled instrumental sections there was no beating Fresh Blood.

It’s hard to believe The Law are not only playing this weekend’s Reading and Leeds festivals but also headlining the BBC Introducing stage. Largely overlooked, and on past displays rightly so, the band’s debut album made little impact on its release last year.

Tonight they returned to Glasgow, but with songs like The Chase, City Boys, City Girls and Still Got Friday To Go showing a complete lack of originality as the four-piece lurched from Oasis to the Bay City Rollers via The Jam and Status Quo, it was to be another poor outing for the Dundee outfit.

At the helm singer Stuart Purvey did his best to mimic Liam Gallagher, but with his vocals uninspired and often – possibly due to his ‘over-tired’ state – quite weak and his chat restricted to joining in chants of “Oi Oi”, it’s fair to say Mr Gallagher won’t be losing any sleep over The Law, well not the band at least.

Having been chosen to play the BBC Introducing stage at the Leeds and Reading festival later this month, tonight’s headline set at Tut’s was an ideal way for local outfit We’re Only Afraid Of NYC to warm up for their most important gigs to date.

Just how well the trio will be received down South is hard to say. There were plenty of positives during the first 25 minutes tonight but for the remaining time they struggled to maintain the crowd’s interest as the quality of material drastically tailed off.

By-and-large the positives came in the shape of the band’s angsty angular riffs. Quiet followed loud as, for the main part, the band stuck to what is by now a tried and tested formula. But while the Biffy bursts of guitar, bass and drums served the three-piece well during the instrumental sections, singer/guitarist Kenny Finnigan’s vocals just weren’t up to scratch.

A lack of edge, intensity or power from Finnigan rendered their best songs, Louder Loudest and It’s Tidal, ineffectual while With Bullets and woeful closer Lucky Ones strayed awkwardly into We Were Promised Jetpacks territory.

“We’re shaking off the jet lag, shaking off the rust” joked Alice In Chains’ singer William Duvall before the band’s driving force Jerry Cantrell led the quartet through Again. The guitarist was very much the star of the show tonight, shifting from mic to mic adding his unmistakeable vocals to most songs, dispensing dark heavy rock riffs with an effortless ease.
For all his stage-managed histrionics, Duvall seldom commanded the crowd. His presence at times was entirely superfluous, not that it detracted from their overall performance.
Unfortunately most tracks taken from the bands comeback album Black Gives Way To Blue lacked the kind of hook or crowd-lifting change that made the band the huge success they were when original singer Layne Staley was still in place (Staley succumbed to long-term drug abuse eight years ago).
It’s little wonder then that early material like Them Bones, Angry Chair and Man In The Box stood out so much. But overall it was Down In A Hole, a song steeped in poignancy given Staley’s dark, ominous lyrics and untimely demise, that made tonight more than just a rock show.