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Love is in the air and sounding fine

VALENTINE'S Day in Shanghai will be upbeat this year with party organizers offering a variety of music styles for young lovers, metal fans and singles, Yao Minji reports Valentine's Day has become one of the biggest commercial celebrations in China. It is the first big festival after the Chinese Lunar New Year, with most young people yet to really get in the mood for work again. It will be even more enjoyable this year as it falls on Saturday, offering a great excuse to go out and celebrate.

Party organizers in Shanghai are not going to disappoint the city's night animals despite the financial crisis. There are romantic concerts with love songs for couples, fun parties for singles, and exciting local rock music for those cool metal fans.

Famous pop stars including the Malaysian "Queen of Love Songs" Fish Leong, Malaysian singer/songwriter Gary Cao and the Chinese-Korean boy group Super Junior M, are all giving Valentine's Day concerts in Shanghai.

As well as the mainstream and pop sounds, the local jazz pianist Zhang Bo will give a romantic piano recital, "Fall in Love with Me," at the Australian bar 1oz3 on Yueyang Road.

A lecturer at the Shanghai Conservatory of Music, Zhang started playing piano when he was four years old and continued studying through the middle school attached to the conservatory and then at the conservatory itself.

He formed the band E Groove with four other local musicians in 2002, with E standing for electric and every and Groove reflecting their melodic approach.

Zhang's music is influenced by traditional Chinese folk songs, pop songs from old Shanghai and classical masterpieces. Known for his modern interpretations of jazz standards, Zhang has expanded his repertoire to include other genres including rock, pop and funk.

He played at the bar last Saturday and will be there again on Valentine's Day to bring his romantic melodies to life.

The Vault Bar at Three on the Bund is inviting singles in the city to a "Love Boat" party. The organizer is describing it as an "anti-Valentine's Day party" for singles to celebrate their status and have fun.

The organizer insists that it is not a matchmaking or speed dating event, but they do want partygoers to interact with each other.

Inspired by the 1960s show, the party will have "Cupids" ready to deliver love notes, roses or cocktails. With the 1960s cruise ship theme, the party will feature limbo dancing, hula hoops, blackjack and roulette.

For some venues like the veteran live music house Yuyintang, the romantic weekend will be just the same as any other. This venue has an average two live performances every week and last year, despite the financial crisis, staged 100 shows.

Yuyintang will have a special mix of live local metal bands tomorrow. The billboard includes Stairway to Heaven, one of the very few bands in Shanghai that concentrates on metal rock and one of very fewer school bands that continued to stay together after graduation.

Heavily influenced by the Finnish death metal band Nightwish, Stairway to Heaven features a female vocalist with a magnetic voice. It was formed in 1999, when the three first members were in college. They didn't adopt the heavy metal style until vocalist Zhang Hui joined two years later, while all the band members were still in school.

Like other school bands, they faced difficult choices after graduation. Some members left for their careers and it became increasingly hard for the others to rehearse with full-time jobs.

Unlike most other school bands, however, they did not give up and other musicians joined, bringing new elements to their sound.

Metal Night

Date: February 13, 9pm

Venue: Yuyintang, 1731 Yan'an Rd W.

Tickets: 30 yuan

Zhang Bo Piano Show

Date: February 14, 8pm

Venue: 1oz3, 1 Yueyang Rd

Tickets: 199-299 yuan (two tickets and two glasses of wine included)

Tel: 6433-2917

Singles Party

Date: February 14, 9:30pm

Venue: Laris, Three on the Bund, 6/F, 3 Zhongshan Rd E1

Tickets: 150 yuan (a welcome drink and two mini cocktails included)

Tel: 6321-9922


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