Alot of people look to the NME Bratbus Tour - a live dates jamboree in January, culminating in the paper's awards ceremony - as a sign of great bands to come in 1997. But this prediction job is as foolproof as saying you can pick the first five places in the Grand National. Many pundits believe that teenage bands will crack the charts this year, and, dutifully, the Bratbus tour features "most likely to" outfits Geneva and Symposium. But we've been here before. This time last year, four of the five Brat bands harboured only teens: Kenickie, Bis, Northern Uproar and Ash, as well as twenty-odds Super Furry Animals.
Glam-punksters Kenickie's string of edgy pop singles peaked just outside the Top 40, but their latest, "In Your Car" is now in the charts. Scots trio Bis became the first band lacking a proper record deal to jump onto TOTP with "Kandy Pop", but haven't followed up. Bands to join the Top 20 in 1996 were Welsh mavericks Super Furry Animals, Manc Lads Northern Uproar, and the already huge Ash.
For this year's tour, Geneva and Symposium play with Tiger and 3 Colours Red. While all bands share the ability to wreak havoc live, what they haven't got is the originality that made the Super Furries, Bis and Kenickie so unusual. 3 Colours Red and Symposium both play heady, three chord lightning strikes, little else and a weary anxiety lingers - are these bands going around in ever-decreasing circles?
Of course, not even the Beatles were teenage geniuses, but the worst folly of 1996 was the hyping of Tiger, a sort of Pavement with kitsch heavy metal influences. Their debut album was praised to the rooftops - but sold only 3,000 copies. Something to bring us back down to earth, and proof that there are no rules or predictability in pop.
EYE ON THE NEW
Tour support for The Black Crowes is Patti Rothberg, who accompanies her day-to-day stories of melancholic woes with sensitive guitar strumming. Accolades are spreading. Apparently even Al Gore and Bill Clinton have her album Between the 1 and 9.
Bristol Colston Hall 13 Jan, Leeds Town & Country14 Jan, Glasgow Barrowlands 15 Jan, Wolverhampton Civic Hall 17 Jan