Alternative Valentines

Valentine’s Day means a lot of things to a lot of people. For some, it’s an opportunity to express their undying love and affection for another by showering them with tacky gifts, flowers and chocolates that on any other day could only be seen as a form of apology. To others it can be a hateful affair. Whether it’s because of love lost, a love never had or a great dislike for all commercial occasions (we’re looking at you, Grandparents Day), February 14th can stir up a lot of unhealthy thoughts and feelings. With this in mind, we wanted to offer you all a life-line. From live music to film, we’ve devised a list of options of both anti- and alternative Valentine’s Day events to help see you through that rather ridiculous and overly hyped day.

WHITE LIES – HMV Institute on February 14th
“Everything’ got to be love or death” croon three-piece White Lies in their single ‘Death’. For those opting for ‘death’ (not literally, I must add) the London-based group are playing at Birmingham’s HMV Institute on February 14th, following the release of their sophomore album, Ritual. Their 2009 debut, To Lose My Life, was full of morbid grandeur, dark lyrics and lavish instrumentation; a fine way to avoid the sickly-sweet commercialism that saturated the days leading up to the dreaded V-Day two years ago. Produced by Alan Moulder, whose previous clients include Interpol and The Jesus and Mary Chain, Ritual will no doubt fill its predecessor’s shoes.

BLACK LABEL SOCIETY – O2 Academy
If slightly posh doom and gloom isn’t enough, then this should do the trick. Over at the O2 Academy, Black Label Society are set to use their Californian heavy metal to send St. Valentine running for the hills. With support from British metal act Godsized, expect an evening of the most powerful rock known to mankind.

BLOOD BROTHERS – The Grand Theatre
If a mosh-pit full of angry teens and scary dads doesn’t appeal, then a trip to the theatre might. Blood Brothers is at The Grand Theatre in Wolverhampton. Kicking off a week-long run on February 14th, Willy Russell’s ever-popular musical for people who hate musicals has captivated audiences for years.
Set in Liverpool, Blood Brothers is a gritty tale of love, loss and deception that focuses on the separation of twin boys, Mickey and Eddie. Award-winning and well-loved, Blood Brothers raises questions concerning class, politics and education all within the context of¬†musical theatre. A perfect antidote to the Valentine’s season? Very possibly.

COUNT ARTHUR STRONG – New Alexandra Theatre
For those in need of comedy, look no further than Count Arthur Strong’s Command Performance at the New Alexandra Theatre.
From the Edinburgh Fringe Festival to Radio 4, Steve Delaney has taken alter-ego Count Arthur Strong everywhere. Entertaining audiences, critics and fellow comedians, Strong is a man deluded and baffled by modern life.
A failed thespian and supposed friend of the celebrities, his show features tales of his life and his attempts to lecture and educate his audiences, often interrupted by his failing memory. Old-fashioned humour doesn’t come around very often, so if laughing your way through February 14th seems like a good idea, this may be the way to go.

GNOMEO and JULIET
Now, not everyone wants to ignore the occasion altogether. For those who fancy a cinema date but would prefer to avoid the onslaught of mediocre American rom-coms, this could save the day: Gnomeo and Juliet is released on February 11th, and just in case the title didn’t give the game away, it’s an animated, garden-themed adaptation of Shakespeare’s romantic tragedy.
Voiced by an all-star British cast including James McAvoy, Emily Blunt and Stephen Merchant, Gnomeo and Juliet is an alternative take on the classic love story, following two gnomes in search of happiness amidst feuding neighbours.
If that alone doesn’t tickle your fancy, ironically or otherwise, then the highly anticipated duet between Lady GaGa and Elton John on the film’s soundtrack should certainly be reason enough to go.

Natasha Parker

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