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"Arc For Arc's Sake"

(pic:  Stephen Sweet)

Camden Underworld, London

I THINK there's five of them. It's hard to say. This venue is designed with an ineptitude that verges on the malicious. The band, see, are actually lower than most of the audience. If the bloke with the big purple hair about four rows in front of me leans 20 degrees to the left and the sound chappie ignores my Hilaryan exploits on the production equipment, I can get the guitarist's shoulder, just about. The thing, however, is that even despite such handicaps to a spot of untrammelled revelling in the excitement of being there when a new star appears, everything you've read about Curve is pretty much true.

When The Stud Brothers sounded the charge six short weeks ago, they wrote about a band who were capable of demolishing and rebuilding themselves in one song, who were fronted by a woman who was all the best things about every pop Goddess you've ever upholstered your walls with and looked like Beatrice Dalle into the bargain. Theoretical perfection basically. A lesser combo would have packed up and gone home. Like, how do you live up to that?

In Curve's case, by arriving an stage at their first ever London performance and striking a pose at once confident and vulnerable, possessed and unsure. (These are highly corny vagaries to waft among, certainly, but then pop music is an essentially corny business. It's only the most adroit practitioners who can weave the above into something resembling, for want of a better platitude, art.)

There are times when you think Toni Halliday, the singer (whose resemblance to the lioness Dalle is quite staggering, savagely beautiful) is the torch amid the ash you were hoping for. These are when she's prowling the stage, snarling the rap bits and frightening the small children. Other times, like when the band are doing their marvellously - but never quite overly gratuitously - noisy stuff, or when she's surrounded by stage-divers, she looks so completely bewildered and lost you want to ask her parents' whereabouts and show her to a policeman. Hell, innocence! Experience! Poetic dichotomies, ho. They contradict every term anyone can throw at them. (Hold onto your hats, this is a belter): Curve are multi-faceted.

Musically, Curve know how to come over as exquisitely contemporary (Ride, Lush, Cocteaus, blah blah blah) without ever actually sprouting fluffy white fur and going "baa" and this is a tragically rare thing and we should love them for it as if we didn't enough already.

They're astonishingly perfect. Yeah yeah, and perfectly astonishing. You heard it here first and you'll hear it everywhere else. They'll have been on every front cover in the aestheticaIIy elevated world (not a big place, agreed, but it could be all we've got) before the year's out and you'll be loudly telling people you were here.

Stars? Constellations of ravens.

review by Andrew Mueller (nicked from 'Melody Maker', dated 23 March 1991)

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