It’s not often that Sheik and I get dolled up for anything. But Saturday night was a special occasion. We were fortunate enough to attend the Distant Worlds: Music from Final Fantasy concert in Houston the other night. I’ll just go ahead and say it now: it was awesome.
It was so nice to be able to hear some of my favorite music played by actual human beings. Everything is better when it is not in midi format. There were a few times when I cringed at some flubbed notes by the brass section, but I was a band geek and I highly doubt anyone else noticed. (Yes. Samus was in the band. If you make jokes you get a photon to the face.) But other than that, the concert was fantastic. They played selections from Final Fantasy V, VI, VII, VIII, IX, X, XI, XIII and we were treated to a sneak peak at a sample from Final Fantasy XIV. Listening to the music alone was great, but apparently the producers didn’t think that was good enough. There were scenes from each of the games projected above the orchestra as they played the music. How cool is that? So that sneak peak of FFXIV just got that much more awesome.
There are a few pieces that I have to say stood out as my favorites from last night. They opened with “Prelude to Final Fantasy.” I thought that was a great piece to set the tone of the concert. The opening harp melody is so distinct.
One piece that surprised me was “Vamo’ al Flemenco” from FFIX. I remember playing this game, and no music really stuck out in my memory. But this was such a lively and exciting piece I can’t believe I don’t remember it. But again, that’s the difference between a live orchestra and a midi.
The three pieces that they did from Final Fantasy VII were probably the top pieces in the whole show. “Aerith’s Theme” got me all choked up, although I wish they had chosen better animation to accompany the music. Sheik became especially emotional since she was able to mentally connect the music to Crisis Core as well as FFVII. As the finale of the encore they played “One Winged Angel.” The crowd went nuts over this. The animation they chose came from Advent Children rather than any of the games. I was kind of disappointed in that, but it did make me want to see the movie. They also debuted the orchestral score of a piece called “J-E-N-O-V-A,” and to me this was the best piece of the entire show. I feel that they probably should have ended the regular concert with this instead of “Terra,” but given the nature of “Terra” I can see why they closed with it. But “J-E-N-O-V-A” was intense and exciting, and I completely want to play FFVII again because of it.
In addition to “Terra,” they also played “Opera, Maria and Draco” from Final Fantasy VI. This is a piece that stands out so strongly for anyone who has played FF VI, but to hear it live took it to a whole new level. In the original game, obviously, they didn’t have actual singers performing. The three singers who performed the roles of Maria, Draco, and Prince in Houston did a fantastic job, and I actually got chills at one point. I had forgotten how good the opera was, and I’m very glad they included it last night.
My absolute favorite of the show, however, was “Swing de Chocobo.” For starters, I love jazz music. If there had been no animation to accompany the music I would have been just fine. But the clips they picked had me in a fit of giggles. It opened with the old-school, 8-bit chocobo walking back and forth to the music. It was just so damn cute. There were chocobos aplenty from the other games, but that 8-bit chocobo sold it for me.
If you are a music fan and this show comes through your town, I highly recommend going. It doesn’t matter if you are a Final Fantasy fan or not; good music is good music. But PLEASE, if you go, dress accordingly. I got so irritated at all of the nerds and geeks who dressed in jeans and T-shirts. Even WORSE were the idiots who dressed up in cosplay. This isn’t and anime or video game convention. It’s a symphony. It has a dress code. Don’t be that guy (or gal).