Monday, March 03, 2008
My Final Fantasy Distant Worlds Experience...
What a wonderful night Saturday, March 1st was! At the fantastic Rosemont Theatre in Chicago, the magic happened again. Not only did Play! A Video Game Symphony kick off there in 2006, but Final Fantasy concerts have been held there before, during the Dear Friends tour. It's safe to say that the Chicagoland Pops Orchestra has some great experience performing game music.
It was great to return there again for another special night, the Final Fantasy Distant Worlds North American Premiere. As many of you know, this new tour, celebrating the twenty year history of this beloved RPG franchise, got it's start on December 4th, 2007 in Stockholm, Sweden. Stockholm has become quite a hot spot for great game music concerts in it's own right now, too. The Distant Worlds tour will continue on to Seoul, South Korea in April 2008, and plans for Australia and New Zealand in 2009 have been announced. So how was the concert? AWESOME!
There was snow a couple days before March 1st in Chicago, and it was cold! Most of the snow lingered on. I thought it was a great atmosphere for the show.
Arnie Roth conducted again, and I was glad to see him do it. Not many conductors are as familiar with game music, or Final Fantasy music in that matter, as he has become.
After a brief introduction from Arnie Roth, the fans cheered as Mr. Nobuo Uematsu entered the audience, and sat with two of his assistants from Square Enix. Mr. Roth made some great announcements during the concert: The third Black Mages Album has been completed, and the Famous Opera Scene from Final Fantasy VI would be a part of it! I can't wait to hear that CD! Mr. Roth stated that the Distant Worlds Tour would be featuring FF music not not often played at other FF concerts. He also indicated that much more footage from the games would now be a part of the tour, and he was right. It was great!
NOTE: Some of the songs may be out of order.
1. Liberi Fatali (Final Fantasy VIII)
This is a real favorite, it was a great performance of the opening theme from FF VIII. I was once listening to this while riding my bicycle, and I crashed from riding too fast! It's a real intense piece.
2. To Zanarkand (Final Fantasy X)
Great! This is the opening theme for FF X. I still don't know why this game gets a lot of criticism. I loved it!
3. Final Fantasy Main Theme (FF Series)
For the most part, it's in every FF game, it's timeless, a trademark.
4. Don't Be Afraid (Final Fantasy VIII)
The FF VIII Battle Theme! The game footage showed an actual battle encounter to go along right with the music.
5. Theme of Aeris (Final Fantasy VII)
Sure, I've heard it live many times, it's still great to hear, though. Everyone loves it.
6. Final Fantasy I-III Medley
If you've heard some of the various FF concert albums out there, this is pretty much the same medley. One thing I like about it is that there is a lot of emphasis on FF II.
7. Vamo' alla Flamenco (Final Fantasy IX)
A guest guitarist was brought out for this piece, and he did an amazing job. I think it was largely extended from previous live versions, and was by far the best version of it I've ever heard.
8. Dear Friends (Final Fantasy V)
The guest guitarist did another awesome job with this piece, the ending for FF V.
9. Love Grows (Final Fantasy VIII)
Basically, it's the instrumental version of "Eyes on Me", the vocal theme from FF VIII. I kept going through the lyrics in my head as I listened.
Now more of the new and rare pieces would be performed!
10. Opening ~ Bombing Mission (Final Fantasy VII
The only other time I've heard this live was at the More Friends FF Concert back in '05, and they did an excellent job with it. I love this piece, it went right along with the FF VII opening footage they showed.
11. Fisherman's Horizon (Final Fantasy VIII)
First time hearing this live! Really cool! The choir was great.
12. Swing de Chocobo (Final Fantasy X)
Arranged by Arnie Roth personally from the FF X version of the Chocobo Theme.
It's become so recognizable over the years.
13. Theme of Love (Final Fantasy IV)
This was a classic from FF IV, and it was the first time I've seen the cinemas from FF IV DS. AMAZING!!
14. Memoro de las Stono ~ Distant Worlds (Final Fantasy XI
Another piece that was a first for me to hear live. This wasn't just part of the opening from FF XI, this was, I think one of the best performances of the show. The choir was incredible, and lyrics were added, performed by a great female vocalist with a gorgeous voice (I can't remember her name for the life of me).
15. Opera "Maria and Draco" (Final Fantasy VI)
This was the main reason I attended the More Friends Concert, and I was getting to hear it again! FF VI is my favorite FF game! I almost think this was better than the More Friends performance. The opera singers definitely had the emotions and expressions right for the piece. So rare to see this performed live, and such a treat!
16. Terra's Theme (Final Fantasy VI)
The "final" piece for the evening, this was fantastic. It was made special by the way they tied the game footage into it. The 16 bit footage from the FF VI opening was shown, and where the game normally listed creator credits, they changed it to show the credits for the concert. It must have been cool for Arnie Roth to see his name up on the screen while Terra walked in the snow with her companions wearing the Magitek Armor.
After a standing ovation, of course there had to be an encore:
17. One Winged Angel (Final Fantasy VII)
It's to be expected at an FF show. Everyone always goes nuts for it.
More standing ovations followed, and Mr. Uematsu appeared on stage with Mr. Arnie Roth and bowed to everyone. An awesome evening, the concert was almost 2 1/2 hours, and I was so looking forward to meeting Mr. Uematsu again!
The meet and greet followed for those who were lucky, and paid $150.00 for a ticket. The line was long, but I must thank Mr. Uematsu, Mr. Roth and AWR productions for one of the best meeting sessions I've ever been to. I didn't see anyone being rushed, and everyone got a great moment to thank Nobuo Uematsu for his music (you can see my photos to the right in my photo gallery). Thank you all for your patience meeting all the fans. I must also thank the staff of the Rosemont Theatre for their help taking photos and for their comments on my artwork. Both times I've been there, you guys have seriously been the best staff at any concert I've ever attended.
The Rosemont Theatre the night of the show
Fans gathered outside ready for showtime. Mr. Uematsu made an early appearance and waved to the fans from inside.
Some of the merchandise on sale. Also available were autographed posters.
The line for the meet and greet was long!
The orchestra preparing to get started.
I was lucky once again to get a number of items signed, including my drawing of Mr. Uematsu as a Black Mage! (see photo at right)
Blue Dragon OST and FF VII Piano Collections (Digicube)
Final Fantasy I & II PS1 OST and FF IV Celtic Moon
FF III NES/FC OST
FF Songbook Mahoroba and FF Symphonic Suite
FF Tactics Advance OST: I got it signed once by Mr. Hitoshi Sakimoto at Play! in Detroit, and I brought it to this concert for Mr. Uematsu to autograph. I was extremely luck to get both discs and the liner notes signed by the two of them. Mr. Uematsu noticed Sakimoto's signature and he said "Oh, Sakimoto-San, he's my friend".
He also made another comment about working on the FF Tactics OST with Sakimoto that was soooo funny, I'll share it at another time.
Hope you enjoyed this writeup, thanks for reading!