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Violet Indiana
B2 Club 
By Peter Vanderwall
Robin Guthrie and Siobhan de Mare, formerly of the groups Cocteau Twins and Mono respectively, comprise the core of the band Violet Indiana, whose ambient sound and gripping presence graced the stage at B2 Thursday, 29th April. The band is currently on tour in support of their new album Russian Doll. A departure from their darker previous work, Russian Doll seems more upbeat and direct, approaching levity at times.

“Well it can’t all be dark and miserable, can it?” asked de Mare, when quizzed about her new, happier lyrical approach. This new style seems a culmination of a process that had begun for her with leaving Mono, where she didn’t have as much control over what was written and performed.

“I felt stifled in Mono, creatively stifled.” She commented. De Mare seemed anything but stifled performing at B2 on Thursday. The soft sounds of a recorded Violet Indiana give the lie to the more rock oriented, energetic and simply louder live version of the group. De Mar? kept the audience rapt throughout with her hypnotic lyrics and magnetic presence.

These assets were more than aptly matched by Guthrie, whose low-fi approach to guitar seemed to almost subtly upstage de Mare at times. His love for classic songwriting shows through in his simple melodies and clean tones. As the front man of the group, he also seemed to be its musical anchor, although the creative process is shared by de Mar?.

“Oh, you should see us in the studio. We yell, throw things, drink coffee and talk for hours before we get anything done,” said de Mar?. Whatever the process, fans seem to be satisfied, as evidenced by the large turnout on Thursday. The club seemed full by 11.00, and the audience sent up a rousing yell of approval as the band took the stage shortly thereafter.

One low point of the evening, thankfully unrelated to the music, was the setting itself. Traditionally an egalitarian club with lax face control (especially in the concert hall) B2 had roped off nearly every single place to sit, posting security guards who informed hopefuls that they were VIP zones. Apparently, of the 200 some concert goers, about 4 of them ranked a place in the “VIP zone” as that is how many people occupied the otherwise totally empty seating area towards the back of the hall. The rest of the music loving proletariat had to crowd into the bar area and stand in front of the stage – not really a problem for most fans anyway.

At any rate, all was forgiven and forgotten after the music started, and Violet Indiana’s soft melodious ennui began to take effect. While Russian Doll represents a new direction, songs about lost love and betrayal like “Liar” beg the original question; can it all be dark and miserable all the time?

“It can for me,” says Guthrie with a grin on his face. “I’m from Scotland; it’s a miserable place.”

04.05.04
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