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The Falcon, London

Curve:  big fish in a small pub POP music's all very nice, as far as it goes, but sometimes what you really want is a choir of vengeance. You find yourself thinking even a very thin one might do.

In the case of Curve, thin was always the adjective that sprang to mind. That thin voice purring icily. Those thin lyrics running the gamut from A to B in the vengeful rhyming dictionary. That thin film of bruise-black atmosphere glowering over that one thin melody, blown up and freeze-framed until it looked like something relentless. On balance, on the choirs of vengeance topic, I wouldn't have put money on Curve's come-lately goth serving the purpose.

Certainly not in a pub, where there's no prosceniumed poise to hide behind and where Curve's elders and cruellers would collapse without their smoke-machined Nuremburg rallies to nothing. Where it's small and smelly and pore-purgingly hot enough to see Toni Halliday - housecat eyes shining - bend a sweat-slicked, smiling, human face to the first row of fans... and you know, it's exactly that moment which kicks up a surprised ping of pleasure. Just before the next one, which is when Dean Garcia's enormous Eighties guitar chords kick up in "Chinese Burn". We've heard it before, this maelstrom of dissonant-haze and machine-heart drive, but then again, I doubt we were done with it when pop's Zeitgeist streetsweepers took it away.

It can hardly be irrelevant that tonight's entire set - bar "Die Like A Dog" - is new, and yet I only notice it because Curve sound better than I remembered. That's whether or not actual distinctions exist between the jangling psychedelia of "Something Familiar" and the bassily prowling "Forgotten Sanity"; the sidling, bluesy "Dog Bone" or the punky "Sweetback" (the shopfront single, "Coming Up Roses", being the perky exception). Or whether it matters in which order the inevitable words "dirty", "rage", "tough", "misery" and "enemy" run, glazed and purring, into each. Word-wise, we probably weren't done with them either.

And if I never did quite get my choir of vengeance, I now know who has the gumption to try to fit it into a space this small.

review by Jennifer Nine (nicked from 'Melody Maker', dated 30 May 1998)

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