Greyscale image of Joe Jackson wearing a classic suit and top hat holding a melodica

Joe Jackson

Two Rounds of Racket Tour
Sun 6 Oct 2024, 19:00
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Presented by AEG

The Two Rounds Of Racket Tour promises to be festive, fun, and unlike anything else music fans will see next (or any other) year.

The show will be in two parts: a solo set by Joe Jackson of his original songs, and a set based on his album What A Racket!  – the first performance in more than 100 years of the songs of forgotten Music Hall genius Max Champion, with Joe Jackson and a nine-piece band.

These were wonderful songs in their time,' says Joe Jackson, 'but they're surprisingly modern, too. Sometimes it's almost as if Max is speaking, from his London of the early 20th century, directly to us in the early 21st.'

Max Champion was born in 1882 in London's East End and is thought to have been related to the great Victorian entertainer Harry Champion. As an up-and-coming performer he shared the stage with big stars such as Gus Ellen and Vesta Tilley, but his career (much like the Music Hall era itself) was cut short by the First World War, and his songs faded into obscurity. That is, until 2014, when Max Champion sheet music started to surface: first in Malta, then in England, and, intriguingly, in Belgium, where Max probably met his end in the trenches. By 2019, enough songs had been recovered for Joe Jackson to resurrect them with a 12-piece orchestra.

Music Hall originated in 19th-century London, transitioning from pubs and street performances to grand theaters by 1900. It attracted a diverse audience, spanning from commoners to aristocrats. The songs in this genre depicted life in the Victorian and Edwardian eras, often infused with humor, satire, sentimentality, patriotism, and occasionally darker themes like jealousy and murder. Some songs were also risqué but cleverly expressed.