Bonus Round! Concert Review - Final Symphony II
Last night I went to the Barbican in London to see the London Symphony Orchestra perform Final Symphony II: Music from Final Fantasy V, VIII, IX and XIII. It was phenomenal! After listening to the wondrous sound of the Final Symphony album, to see the new concert and new arrangements performed live was a dream come true.
With an orchestra as talented as the LSO performing the scores, it proves that videogame music is gaining the recognition it deserves. If you're looking for good music, you can't go wrong with the scores of Nobou Uematsu and Masashi Hamauzu.
The symphonic arrangements themselves were just stunning. I adored how the music blended battle themes, romantic themes and character themes seamlessly. Blinded by Light has to be my favourite piece from Final Fantasy XIII, and I loved hearing that. The Final Fantasy VIII performance was stunning. Hearing The Oath and Don't Be Afraid performed by an orchestra in this way cannot be beaten.
Every time I picked up on a theme, a huge grin lit up my face. Especially the battle theme from Final Fantasy V. Talk about nostalgic! People around me were tapping along with the beat. We were one appreciative audience!
Watching Final Symphony II, rather than listening to a recording, meant I could see the musicians preparing to rejoin the flow. It was like a tiny preview of what was to come, as were the snippets of seemingly off-key or out of place melodies punctuating the lovely flow of music. It was especially brilliant with the Final Fantasy IX piano concerto. Every now and then Vivi's Theme would sneak in over the top of another piece. Pretty sure we were all humming that during the intermission. Hearing Zidane's Theme live was brilliant, too, but what really underpinned the whole experience was the Festival of the Hunt. It was so dynamic and so upbeat. I suspect I will be breaking out my copy of Final Fantasy IX in the near future.
The orchestra became the story of each Final Fantasy, going through the highs and lows, with the brass and deeper string section taunting the cheery melodies of woodwinds and violins with their menacing themes. It was one of the most thrilling performances I have ever had the joy to hear and watch. Totally mesmerising. The sound was incredible. The music swelled and wove itself around us. Soft melodies with a solo flute here or a violin there gently led us in. Then the epic battle themes and collective might of the orchestra to captured us. We came out the other side of each performance elated and astonished. What beautiful music!
Energy filled the Barbican Hall throughout the performance. At times it seemed as though the conductor would break into dance. He was so lively, and the LSO were astounding. So talented! They definitely win the award for Most Epic Rendition of the Chocobo Theme, blending it with Final Fantasy V's Battle of Big Bridge. Shout out to Patrick and his tuba. Half expected yellow feathers to explode out the top. It was little touches like that that showed everyone behind the concert knew, respected, and appreciated their audience.
Fantastic atmosphere, astounding music, and even Uematsu-san came up and received not only a thunderous applause, but also a Guinness World Record for being the most performed composer of videogame music.
What a night. Wow. Loved every second. Can't wait for a recording to be released so I can relive this concert again and again.