Honestly, I have gone and died in heaven. I . . . I’m just shocked by the best two and a half hours of my life. As video gamer and a musician, tonight was an experience I will never forget. I saw this wonderful concert, and I can say that if I die tomorrow, I will die a happy person.
Oh, by no means am I saying this was a perfect concert. There were some issues with it, but overall? It was almost perfect. See, I always wanted to hear video game music performed live. When I mean live, I mean in a real concert hall. To hear such a thing always felt like something out of my grasp, but I was given a chance to finally hear the famed Final Fantasy songs in one of Seoul’s grandest concert halls. Without further ado, here’s my review on a fabulous night.
The concert took place at the Seoul Arts Centre, in Seochu-gu, in the concert hall. Before the concert started, the SAC staff were selling merchandises, such as t-shirts and CDs. I wanted the CD, but they sold out. :( However, I think this is the CD, which I went ahead and ordered. My friend and I sat in B-block, towards the middle, and guess who happened to sit around our vicinity? Uematsu Nobuo himself! It was quite exciting.
Oh, speaking of Uematsu-sama, when the orchestra (Euro-Asian Philharmonic Orchestra) and the choir (I forgot their name) came on stage, Uematsu-sama came out first. At first, I only saw his shoes, which looked like some kind of a sandals. I thought that was the conductor, and I was wondering what kind of a conductor wore that kind of shoes. Then I looked at the actual person, and I was like HOLY CRAP. After that little surprise, Maestro Arnie Roth came out.
Anyway, this was the concert programme, and here’s my take on the songs and whatnot. Oh, during most of the songs, they had the game sequences on the screen to follow along the song. It was awesome.
- Final Fantasy VIII — “Liberi Fatali” — Wow. Just, wow. They showed the opening CG sequence of the game and played this at the same time. My mouth dropped opened as the orchestra and the chorus performed this.
- Final Fantasy — “Victory Theme” — This was just a clip played after Maestro Roth gave his opening speech. I thought it was cute XD.
- Final Fantasy X — “To Zanarkand” — I was ready to cry when I heard this song. The first video game music I memorised on the piano . . . this song really holds a special place in my heart. So to hear it live orchestrated . . . I wanted to cry.
- Final Fantasy VIII — “Don’t be Afraid” — I actually don’t remember this song from the game. I think it was because I hated that time-limit gaming I had to do with that scary machine monster. X_X;; But this was intense and exciting to listen to!
- Final Fantasy VIII — “Fisherman’s Horizon” — This is one of my favourite songs from the game, so I was pleased to see this on the programme. I had no idea that this version added a choral part to it, though! Nice twist! And it was funny that Maestro Roth made a mistake and introduced the next song first, but then he realised and quickly introduced this song!
- Final Fantasy — “Swing de Chocobo” — Jazz arrangement of the infamous “Chocobo Theme”! It was cute! And it was also cute seeing all the in-game sequences of Chocobos throughout the series on the screen! Very catchy! I loved the drum parts.
- Final Fantasy V — “Dear Friends” — A Korean classical guitarist came out to play the guitar part. I, er, don’t remember his name. All I know is that I liked the song! Despite me not being a guitar fan.
- Final Fantasy IX — “Vamo’ alla Flamenco” — I’ll admit that I’ve never really liked this song. However, I think I’ve changed my mind. The guitarist from the last song performed this, too, and just wow. I’m a bit miffed that this was the only FFIX song, though. I wished there was one more FFIX song on the list . . .
- Final Fantasy VIII — “Love Grows” — An, according to Maestro Roth, instrumental version of “Eyes on Me”. Yeap. It sure was. I’m not complaining. The lyrics for “Eyes on Me” is corny, anyway!
- Final Fantasy XI — “Memoro de la Stono – Distant Worlds” — Okay, I haven’t played FFXI, so this song was unfamiliar territory for me. A soprano soloist was invited to sing this, and all I could remember was that the orchestra was too loud for this singer’s voice. Yeah. By this time, I realised that the orchestra, especially the brass/woodwinds were pretty overpowering. I’m not sure if it’s the acoustic in the hall or not, but I noticed it along with my friend.
- Final Fantasy VIII — “The Man with a Machine Gun” — Er, my first reaction to this song is “Why this song?” because I honestly don’t care for that song. Well, I don’t care for the original soundtrack version, but I’ll care for the orchestrated version. What a fantastic end for the first part!
We had a fifteen-minute intermission after that, and then it was onto the second part. Whoo hoo!
- Final Fantasy VII — “Opening – Bombing Mission” — Hm, I wasn’t really that impacted by this song since I haven’t really played FFVII yet. But I think I’ll need to one of these days . . . All you FFVII fans? Leave me alone. Don’t pressure me to play it or I’ll not play it in the end.
- Final Fantasy X — “Suteki Da Ne” — Well. It’s “Suteki Da Ne” ala Korean version. They invited this Korean singer (who had recorded a Korean version of this song already) to perform this, and I was actually scowling at the beginning. See, Maestro Roth introduced “the original singer” and I was thinking “RIKKI!”. Never mind. I wished it was Rikki. The Korean singer wasn’t that good. I wasn’t impressed.
- Final Fantasy XIV — “New Music Medley (Uematsu) from FFXIV” — As a special treat, we were allowed to see clips of FFXIV and hear snippets of the soundtrack so far! It was neat! I was drooling at the graphics for FFXIV. Us audience member were very pleased by this bonus!
- Final Fantasy VII — “Aerith’s Theme” — Ahhh. I may not have played FFVII yet, but I do know this song, and it’s pretty. Hearing it live is 100x prettier! Yes, I’m a sucker for live performances.
- Final Fantasy VII — “J-E-N-O-V-A” — Apparently we heard a new arrangement for this song. They just recorded it last month, and it won’t be out on CD until June. So yay? XD I haven’t heard the previous arrangement, so I can’t compare. But from what I heard, it sounded good.
- Final Fantasy XI — “Ronfaure” — Like the previous FFXI song, I don’t know it . . . but I did enjoy my first time hearing it! It was really catchy and lovely. I’m listening to the soundtrack version at the moment, and it doesn’t do justice for the live version I heard!
- Final Fantasy IV — “Theme of Love” — I actually think this would have been better if there was a singer for it . . . but that’s just me. It’s still a gorgeous song, but it was lacking something for me.
- Final Fantasy VI — “Opera ‘Maria and Draco'” — Yeah they played the condensed version of the “opera” from the game. They had three singers like the original did. A tenor, a baritone, and an alto (Or maybe mezzo-soprano?). The alto singer was a bit off, the tenor’s voice was too weak to overcome the loudness of the orchestra, and the baritone dude impressed me!
- Final Fantasy VI — “Terra’s Theme” — My namesake song! Hey, I was born before the game XD. Just kidding, but HOMG. This is one of my all-time favourites from FF series. I always enjoy listening to the orchestral recordings from other concerts and whatnot, but to hear it live . . . I had goosebumps and everything!
My hands nearly died from all the clapping I did, but it was worth it! Anyway, Uematsu-sama went back on stage and gave a speech of his own. He spoke in English, and when he forgot the word for “thank you” in Korean, he asked Maestro Roth, and then Uematsu-sama said it. It was so adorable! Then Maestro Roth said, “And now, Uematsu-sama will sing us a special solo for all of you!” He handed the mic to Uematsu-sama. Two seconds later, Uematsu-sama said, “I can’t do it!” He handed the mic back to Maestro Roth, who then said, “Then how about you go sing with the choir for our next piece? Will that be all right?” Uematsu-sama agreed, and it was so cute the way he ran to the back to be with the choir!
As an encore, they played Final Fantasy VII — “One-Winged Angel”. What a fabulous way to end the concert! When they were done, Uematsu-sama ran back to the front of the stage, even doing some sliding moves. I may have lost my chance to meet the man himself, but I do not regret seeing him on stage. It was just really cool to see him period!
Aside from the loudness of the woodwinds and brass, the couple singers who needed work, and me still feeling sore at missing out that special ticket, I’m happy. Watching Maestro Roth’s conducting style was fun. He’s energetic, and it’s obvious he loves music. Seeing how Uematsu-sama acts on stage was a gift for me.
Really, this experience cost me almost $200 bucks, but it was worth it. It was worth every single cents.