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"Curve Dare"

(pic:  Liane Hentscher)McGonagle's, Dublin

McGONAGLE'S is full and as the stage lights come up abruptly to reveal Curve blinking welcome, l hear one of the lads rushing past me towards the front gasp, "Toni Halliday - she's the best!" He's obviously on the verge of swooning.

A month or so ago, Halliday told the Maker about her teenage obsession with Jim Morrison, her fascination with his ability to "make whole crowds of people go so f***ing wild that they wanted to take off all their clothes and just lie in front of this person". Glancing around the room here in Dublin, at the rapt expressions and intent gazes and, I'd say that Toni has probably arrived at that same place herself. She's got what she always wanted, and she wears it well, because for all the misconceived accusations of contrivance, Curve are undoubtedly one of the few genuinely glamourous, genuinely sexy groups we have. Toni Halliday on a stage expresses everything that is great about Curve at their best; the arrogance, the inaccessibility, the blind intensity (this last one cuts both ways, as we shall see).

"Coast Is Clear", which opens nervously (Curve nervous? An apparent contradiction in terms - the price of glamour), is strangled, puny by their epic standards. "Think And Act", which follows, is bigger, but it's not until two songs later and the aggressive subliminal funk of "Die Like A Dog" from the current EP that the predatorial look returns to Toni's eyes. She taunts the audience with the chorus line "Peace in the world, free from religion" (she laughs about this later) and the hand start to rock on their heels, transported again. It's a marvellous tune, a priceless sentiment ("die like a dog," I mean), which grows to a shuddering climax. A high such as this isn't reached again until the electrifying menace of "Ten Little Girls" some time later.

The rest of the set is good, certainly never dull, but nowhere near as impressive as Curve can be - though "Split Into Fractions", a new song from the impending first LP, comes very close Indeed, with its bad rhythmic attitude and plaintive (as in "I'm sorry, I'm going to have to eat you now") melodies.

One thing about Curve is that their strength relies on consisting of one supremely focussed idea. They're like a magnifying glass, using one element to hum their way to what they want. Choose three adjectives to apply to one of their works, and you can bet your bassline they'll apply to them all. Now, I'd call this economy, vision even - the idea is so bastard strong - but I've always thought it might be interesting to see what wouId happen should they ever step outside the parameters they've drawn for themselves.

Curve do go some way towards this when they present us with "Doppelgänger", the LP's projected title track. It's a relatively downbeat (there's a new adjective for you), ponderous number, forsaking the breathless blanket assault we're accustomed to. Here, at least, it doesn't work, making the five appear almost vulnerable, something Curve must never be.

Nevertheless, the aforementioned "Split Into Fractions", "Clipped" (again from the "Cherry" EP) and "Ten Little Girls" close the set like a starburst. The latter is overwhelming in that way few of Curve's peers ever will be, and as they return for an encore of "No Escape From Heaven", I know we will go away happy. This is about as bad as they'll get, and still they're unmissable: Curve have won through a difficult situation through sheer force of will and Toni Halliday's occasional smile, the second most beautiful we've ever seen, we later decide. It takes a mighty cynic to expect more.

review by Andrew Smith (nicked from 'Melody Maker', dated 7 December 1991)

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