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The NME Premier Awards 1999 decided by the NME's writers and readers will be announced early next year. To set them apart from all the other award ceremonies which just seem to hire a hotel ballroom and get a TV crew in, the organisers have planned various events in the run-up.

As usual there will be a week of gigs at London's Astoria venue (18-24 Jan). Top of the list of those confirmed so far are Mercury Rev, whose Deserter's Songs album is likely to top most critic's lists of album of 1998. For the first time the gigs will be filmed and NME Premier Awards - The Movie will be shown on Channel 4 soon after, with previews at selected Virgin cinemas. A national tour will be taking place (10-24 Jan), headlined by Unkle (above), the ensemble featuring Mo Wax's James Lavelle, Scratch Perverts and other guests. Scottish punkers Idlewild and the eclectic beatsters Delakota are also slated to appear. Venues in the southern region are: Warwick University (16 Jan), Cardiff University (18 Jan), Bristol University (19 Jan), Oxford Brookes University (20 Jan), UEA Norwich (23 Jan) and the London Astoria (24 Jan).

The festivities also include NME Premier Unsigned Showcases in January: to enter, aspiring bands should dump their demos in bins at Virgin Megastores. Details of this and all other events, plus a chance to vote for the awards are all on the NME's excellent website, www.nme.com. TP