Lee Bains III & the Glory Fires – Mercury Lounge – February 4, 2013
It was like something out of a TV show: Mercury Lounge, late on a Monday night, a few scattered folks lining the walls waiting for the headliner to take the stage, trying to stay awake, a distinct ho hum vibe in the room. Then the band hops onstage, guns a-blazin’ and takes the place from 0 to 60 in a couple of seconds, the room going from a blah, half-empty to a hyped-up where-did-these-people-come-from half-full, all caught in the thrall of Lee Bains III & the Glory Fires. Within the first few songs, Bains and the band went through the introductory chapters of the rock and roll book: Bains falling into the crowd mid-guitar riff, then getting into his lead guitarist’s face, then double solos back-to-back before climbing on the drum kit. Every rock band needs a great frontman, and the Glory Fires have Lee Bains III, who rocked the red-white-and-blue guitar strap embroidered with “LEB3” on it like few can.
The Glory Fires—two guitars, bass and drums—played a fireball set of Southern classic rock, channeling forefathers like the Allmans and Skynyrd with a healthy dose of the Black Crowes. After the first few numbers, they tweaked the sound in the monitors, as bands will do, asking for more guitar: The drummer petitioning the audience, “Hope y’all ain’t scared of a little guitar!” I hope not, too, because there was plenty of it as Bains rifled through songs off last year’s There Is a Bomb in Gilead and a whole slew of new ones, barely pausing in between. The running theme of the set was the band’s hometown of Birmingham, Ala., playing at least three songs about the city, stretching from general civic pride to missed sweethearts back home, all just another opportunity for Bains and his Glory Fires to crank up the volume and play some rock and roll. —A. Stein