Old School Kings Cross is the perfect place to see a practitioner of the dissolute blues like Bone Zeno. The King Charles I is just such an old school Kings Cross pub that while it is such a pub still has a great selection of beer so that I can drink pints of Bonkers Conkers while apologizing for not knowing the support act had cancelled. Thus,Bone Zeno (or Dag to his friends) was playing two sets rather than one which is why I turned up halfway through the first set.
Now, as I guess my way through what I think the first song I heard was I think Get Me Down, Dag was playing his electric guitar as scuzzy and blues-drenched as he could like he'd dug it out of someone's ashtray heart and he'd earnt his gravel toned voice smoking all the ciggies in the astray for several years.
Drink was next: a wonderfully debauched song about still needing another drink at 9.30 am while staging around the Reeperbahn in Hamburg. Less than 20 years ago you could have done almost the same staggering around Kings Cross at that time of day, although finding an open bar would have been more difficult.
He then introduced Caroline while trying to get the very loud female possible speed freaks to shut up while he played this song of love and hate and the radar your passions can send out as that RL Burnside meets Golden Earring blues twang really gets to those of us listening when we can blot those chattering women out of our ears. It's almost like they are proving why they may get dumped as the song unfolds around them.
He finishes the first set with a song I have down as Somebody Else. It was a reverb drenched tale of making sure you know it was Somebody else that did whatever it is you're accusing Dag of, although by this point those girls knew that Dag was struggling to hear himself sing over the incessant chatter they were engaged in not 3 feet away. Oh yes, and in between songs they kept saying how much they loved the music!! Sheesh!! Nonetheless, he still got a good ovation at the end of the first set.
Having been suitably refreshed with smoke and drink, Dag came back for his second set where he was introduced as being the late night's blues set (or should that be rumble?). My notes for the first song say it was about a Soho Cellar but that could be the Bonkers Conkers talking. Either way, he was getting a lot out of the very limited amp and PA set-up.
I have down that he did Get Me Down again although I think if it was two different songs I got the first one wrong. Whatever, it was dark and impassioned and seemed aimed at the still babbling girls. How do you shut them up other than with a ball gag?
I'm guessing Nickedgod was next as he took the distortion up a level or three like Junior Kimbrough playing with The Birthday Party. It was great and drowned out the babbling voices perfectly in a wall of distortion and heavy blues licks.
He finished with a song about being Dirty Wild and Mad that seemed about perfect for this evening. It also ensured that the crowd showed more than enough appreciation to get Dag back in his seat to shake the tambourine he had round his ankle some more on the most acoustic song of the night - the very Dylan-esque I'm Gone, I guess it was.
He then finished with a song about catching a Midnight Train -
and not to Georgia or Scotland from kings Cross Station. He was running to get it wherever it was headed and if he should head across to your town Bone Zeno is well worth catching play in the scuzziest bar you can find for him to set up his thing.