Friday, February 17, 2006
IT'S FINALLY HERE!
Just got my hands on the official "More Friends" Final Fantasy Concert CD!!!! I am so happy!! I have waited for ever to see a video game music concert I attended put on CD. Edit: I didn't include the little speaker pops that occured in my review, I am aware of them of course because I was there. My review is of the performance, which wasn't affected in any way by those sounds. The CD is flawless, all speaker pops have been removed.
The following is my original review for the concert as written the very next day:
I just got in today from the More Friends: Music From Final Fantasy Concert. Oh man, it was beyond amazing. I loved The Black Mages before, but seeing them perform is quite a sight! Wow! Once again, James Arnold Taylor, the voice of Tidus in FF X and X-2 was the MC, and Arnie Roth conducted.
The show started about 8:20 pm and closed around 10:25/10:30.
Here is the set list:
1. Bombing Mission: FF VII opening. Very cool, I hadn't heard this orchestrated before. I thought it was a great start to set off a concert of this magnitude. The huge monitors showed the familiar scene with Aeris carrying the flowers as the piece started.
2. Aeris' theme. FF VII. Not much different from last years performance, or the one on the 20020220 cd.
3. Zanarkand: FF X Perfect piece to lighten the mood after the first two songs.
4. Don't be afraid: FF VIII battle music. In my opinion, FF VIII had great battle music, and I always loved this piece. Another one to liven things up. No difference in previous arrangements though.
5. Terra's theme: FFVI. Even though I heard this one at last year's show, this particular performance seemed more vibrant and spiced up. The monitors showed the FMV with Terra from the PS version of the game.
At that moment the show had an intermission, and Mr. Tidus remarked that the next half of the show would be completely different. It was not a sellout show, but the amphitheatre was still packed.
6. Swing de Chocobo: From FF X, but newly arranged by Arnie Roth. I thought he really brought something new to it, the fans knew it, too. Very cool, even if you don't like this piece, you would have to appreciate the effort put into it. The Monitors showed scenes from FF II up to XI, with chocobos. I was happy they showed the NES FF II & III. Everyone laughed as the chocobos wiggled around on the screens. When they showed CLoud from FF VII riding a chocobo, there was an uproar of applause from the fans.
7. Final Fantasy main theme: This was awesome, I've heard it before, but it's always had an addictive melody to me. Now things really picked up.
8. THE BLACK MAGES! The made quite an entrance, with a stage background that included cool corlored swirls that kind of looked like something from the 60's. The monitors showed the Black Mages logo flashing and in flames. THEY ROCKED HARD, and everyone went nuts. They played the FF III battle theme from their second cd. Lead guitarist Michio Okamiya had quite a stage presence. Imagine everything you can about how a rock star acts on stage and you'll get the picture.
Nobuo himself joined them and was plugging away on his keyboard. From the response, it would not surprise me if next year or sooner the Black Mages have a full concert in the U.S.
9. Maybe I'm a lion: Once again, The Black Mages ripped right into this one. It was so cool, they really worked the stage in their first overseas performance. I wished for more BM, but more on that later.
10. SUTEKI DA NE: (Isn't it wondereful) FFX. RIKKI came on stage, and the softness in which she sang really had an effect on me. She looked a lot smaller than I had pictured. She was wearing an outfit very similar to Yuna's in FF X. It was awesome to see her perform this live, in Japanese as well. I won't forget it.
The monitors showed the underwater scene with Tidus and Yuna from FF X.
11. Melodies of Life: FF IX
Emiko Shiratori was extremely graceful in her approach to the stage. She sang in Japanese, with a couple of verses in English. Seeing these two ladies perform was something special. I may never experience it again, which is why I went to LA only for this event. I arrived 8 hrs. before it started, and left two hrs. after it ended. Both plane rides were a tough 4 hrs. each to and from Atlanta, but I think it was worth it. I simply could not get any more time off work.
12. The complete Maria & Draco from FF VI:
The reason I came to this show, I had longed to one day see this performed, being a longtime fan of FF VI. It was flawless.
Stephanie Woodling (mezzo-soprano), Chad Berlinghieri (tenor), and Todd Robinson (bass-baritone) performed this. It was all so perfect, and the walz part was way better than the one on the Nintendo Orchestral Game Concert 4 cd. And it was in English. Nobuo came on stage for a while and made some remarks through translation about how grateful he was to be able to bring such a show to life. Then, after a lot of suspense, and laughs, an encore.
13. One Winged Angel: FF VII. THIS WAS INCREDIBLE. What an end to a concert! The BLack Mages, together with the CSUF University Singers choir, and the World Festival Symphony Orchestra brought the house down with this one. This was Sephiroth battle music the way it was meant to be. New additional lyrics were added and the Black Mages turned it into a fast paced rock megamasterpiece. The crowd went insane over this. Soon after everyone took their bows, and the night was complete. I had to hightale it back to the airport.
Merchandise included T-shirts, two compilation cds, based on this concert and the Dear Friends shows. A poster signed by the Black Mages, and program books. VERY EXPENSIVE. They had FF VII Advent Children merchandise on display, but not for sale. No cameras were allowed, not even inside the theatre. I took pictures of the outside, and some signs that advertised the show, but I had to turn my camera in.
This was worth every penny in my book, and if they do it again next year, I'll be there.