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"Glamour Of The Goths"

Knits out for the lads!  (pic:  Ed Sirrs)McGonagle's, Dublin

BY THE time Curve take the stage at McGonagle's, the crowd at the front are packed so tightly that to dance would require not only the ability to express oneself microscopically - like those nuts who paint landscapes on canvasses the size of postage stamps - but also written permission from the next of kin of any minor immediately to the left, right, front or back of you. Into this fruitily intimate atmosphere sashays Curve's Toni Halliday, draped in a gigantic antique doiley.

As Curve crash confidently into their first number - 'Coast Is Clear', a song that makes you wonder what might have happened if Siouxsie Sioux had joined Joy Division after Curtis had shuffled off this mortal coil - Halliday is all lace, smiles and delicately laddish winks. But just as words like 'sweet', 'cute' and 'pop's answer to Miss Marple' begin to drool lazily onto my notepad, the light engineer suffers some kind of inspired seizure. Suddenly, Halliday's features are bathed in a savage red light and, what with the psychotic burr of her vocals and the complementary mania of the accompanying music, watching Curve is all at once a totally different experience.

As the song staggers hysterically to an end and a new one begins, I can only liken the tension and sick curiosity in the room to that of being asked to take afternoon tea with a child murderer. In this way Halliday is certainly unusual in today's fluffy, cutesy, matey pop climate. For who else can be frightening, interesting and so badly dressed all at the same time?

As Curve launch into the restless hillbilly drawl of 'Faît', the spell is broken somewhat. Those onstage become just ordinary headcases, your common or garden electro-shock treatment volunteers. In this mood, Halliday chooses to dance like Shane MacGowan and sing like Annie Lennox having a genuine emotion for the first time in ten years. "All good things come to those who wait," she sneers at a heckler crudely requesting a better, more unhindered view of her chest, then clutches the mic pseudo-suggestively.

Toni, obviously rather pleased with herself  (pic:  Ed Sirrs)If Wendy James did something like that it would look crude, unseemly and desperate. When Toni Halliday does it it still looks crude, unseemly and desperate, but at least the surrounding noises are better.

'Die Like A Dog' inspires a life-threatening flurry of dance activity that eventually results in a few smelly, gasping front-rowers being carried out by the bouncers. 'Clipped' cuts through the apathy of those sauntering about near the bar at the back, making them stare transfixed at the stage and not caring for a moment that, in this heat, one's drink evaporates if not drunk at Olympic Record Breaking speed.

Tonight, things go so well Curve decide to do a rare encore, then regret it halfway through when the monitors fail and render Halliday's vocals off-key and peculiar. Faced with a host of options - dismay, suicide, the throwing of a temper tantrum - Curve decide to laugh the whole thing off. If God is in a good mood next year, their singular blend of powerful emotion, pop courage and black humour should see them sticking their tongues out at the opposition from the glittering safety of the charts.

A splash of colour for those who refuse to dream in black and white.

review by Barbara Ellen (nicked from 'New Musical Express', dated 7 December 1991)

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