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different artists. This year's delights are Andrew W.K.. Black Rebel Motorcycle Club. The (‘oral and Lost Prophets. Just as the line—ups have alvvays been varied. so have been the

fortunes of the acts hand-picked for the dubious honour of

appearing. Does anyone remember l‘luffy'.’ Are you still holding a candle for Symposium or Tiger'.’ .\'o. us neither.

But inevitably there are some acts that go on to make a proper stab at the whole ‘being huge‘ thing. And while you might not like vvhat these bands have become. credit has to be given to Nil/5 for picking them out of the hordes of likely contenders.

(‘hief among participants who have gone on to world- straddling. rock colossus stature are Stereophonics and

Coldplay. Kelly Jones and chums played on the l‘)%’ tour and it sometimes seems like they‘ve been on the road ever


And only tvvo short years ago. back before ‘Yellovv' drove everyone in the country demented vvith its 24-hour airplay. Coldplay were the opening band for the forgotten (‘ampag Velocet and Les Rhythmes Digitales.

While the 3214/5 Carling Avvards Tour started off as a relatively lovv-budget. lovv-publicity. lovv-hype jaunt. these days things are much more serious. Of course .\'.lll-.‘ itself is a much more corporate beast than it vvas even just eight years

ago. With heavy investment in its website and a number of

sponsorship tie-ins. .\'.Wl:' looks increasingly like the dinosaur it once despised in the rock establishment.

And it certainly knovvs a thing or tvvo about hype. It is still the case that many bands~ careers are made by .\'.lll;'. Last year The Strokes and The White Stripes were the recipients of heavy backing from the paper. with incredible surges in popularity as a result.

lndeed. this year’s tour headliner Andrevv WK. is another example. The man vvhose debut album. 1 (iv! lli'l. has split listeners and critics dovvn the middle hasn‘t exactly been

struggling for column inches across the music press.

The case of Andrevv W.K. highlights another nagging doubt about the tour: that of an increasingly mainstream bill. There‘s no doubting that the man is quality entertaimnent. but does someone who has already appeared on '13)]; ()f'l'lu' l’ups' \varrant being on a bill of supposedly up-and-coming. brand nevv talent'.’ All four of this year's acts have signed major label deals and vvill undoubtedly have massive marketing budgets to push them in the coming tvvelve months and beyond.

But so \vhat'.’ All that isjust minor. narky griping at what is still a damn fine excuse to get out of the house on a Sunday night in the middle of \\ inter to see four cracking bands for the princely sum of £10.50.

And. of course. there‘s the quirk factor. Imagine a parallel universe where Zoe Ball's partner and Sophie lillis-Bextor are both in dodgy indie bands rather than producing massively successful dancy pop. Well you don't have to imagine: it was only four years ago that the bill featured lillis-Bextor as singer in po-faced dreary indie guff theaudience and .\Is Ball was dating the singer from The Warm Jets. They were rubbish. by the vvay. ()h and Heavy Stereo. also rubbish. played in l‘Nb. and one of them’s landed the plum job of guitarist in ()asis.

So some of this year's bill may go on to greatness. others may end up on the indie scrap heap or as guitarist in a reformed Beatles. Iiithcr \vay it'll be a hell of an entertaining evening that will put a smile back on your face.

Take that. January. you miserable bastard.

Does anyone remember Fluffy? Are you still holding a candle for Symposium or Tiger?

The NME Carling Awards Tour is at QMU, Glasgow, Sun 27 Jan.