When I lived in London, as I did for a period of time, I had occasion to visit many places, but two stood out as being particularly exciting. Not because they were particularly exciting building (they were, but that’s of no real interest to the story) but what was housed within them.
The first was the York Hall in Bethnal Green. Now this is the home of the not quite megastar boxers, a building which has long since seen its prime, and is a rather dingy old town hall sort of place, with a ring in the middle, and some of the most unsavoury characters I have ever seen contained within it, intently watching as two men put their bodies on the line, in what has always struck me as a remarkable act of bravery and fought each other. I went twice, and both times I found the atmosphere, the excitement completely intoxicating. One of the times I went I sat next to Ricky Hatton, who was watching his brother fight on the bill. I think the main bout involved an Iranian that lived in Essex or some such place, called Takaloo (the boxer, not the place) and it was for some belt of other. Seeing these boys close up, the sweat being hit of their brows was so tremendously exciting it took my breath away.
A bit closer to the centre of London, The Cribs took my breath away at the iconic 100 club. I really only went to see them, because they were from Wakefield, where I’d worked previously. They acknowledged the crowd with what felt like an oddly homely greeting (considering I wasn’t even a northerner by birth) and then proceeded to tear up the venue with an exhilarating show.
For Manchester’s Jake Mattison he’s had a foot in both camps. As a professional boxer, he had a decent record (maybe, I wistfully think – he may have been on a Takaloo undercard a few years ago in London) but fell out of love with the sport and went back to his original love – music. And he’s good, too.
His new, debut EP, out on July 15th shows that Jake Mattison has the tools to be a heavyweight (did I write that, really?) in the world of music too. This largely self-taught, partially deaf (in one ear) ex-boxer, who went from market stall to nearly writing for Simon Cowells label knows a thing or two about life. Yes, he puts that life experience into his music, but he’s also got soul, and has a voice that screams authenticity in what he’s doing, and lies somewhere just cooler than David Gray and Damien Rice.
Lead track, Golden Friend, shows this laid back groove, these layered guitars giving the song space and showing that this boy could (I tried not to do this one, I really did) be a (ahem) contender, the song a Dylan or Buckley type affair, drawn out but still breezy and beautiful.
Truly, it’s knockout.
I’ll get my coat.