FINAL FANTASY 25th Anniversary Concert ReviewPublished on 12.07.2012 by Fuzz
Few words can explain the magic at the FINAL FANTASY 25th Anniversary Concert in Chicago last night. Fans from all over lined up to celebrate Final Fantasy's 25th birtday by listening to the series remarkable music.
The event was held at the Akoo Theatre (formally the Rosemont Theatre), which proved to be a cozy location and good fit for the amount of people there. There was a merchandise booth, a photo booth to take Final Fantasy themed pictures, an area with Lightning Returns: Final Fantasy XIII trailer running, and a Theatrhythm FINAL FANTASY contest. Fans also received a FREE limited edition Lightning Returns poster.
Of course, one could not ignore the wonderful cosplay by some of the fans in attendance, including Squall, Rinoa, Cloud, Sephiroth, Rydia, and many Moogles.
Probably the biggest person in attendance was Nobou Uematsu, the composer responsible for 80% of the Final Fantasy music to date. He rarely attends the Distant World concerts, but made a direct flight from Tokyo to celebrate 25 years with a theatre full of his biggest fans.
Both Uematsu and Arnie Roth (the executive producer and conductor of Distant Worlds) played an intimate two song set in the lobby about an hour before the show. They played the Dark World from FINAL FANTASY VI and a variation of the famous Chocobo theme. Being a musician myself, I admired Uematsu's keyboard setup, which appeared to be 2 stacked Nord Lead 2X.
The show started at 8:00PM with an introduction from the charismatic Roth followed by the infamous FINAL FANTASY Prelude used on many of the games in the series. The harp quietly started the familiar tune and was soon lifted into a climatic explosion of symphonic melodies from the Chicago Pop Orchestra.
The set to follow was playing one song from each of the core games in the series:
- FINAL FANTASY I – III: Medley 2012
- FINAL FANTASY IV: Battle with The Four Fiends
- FINAL FANTASY V: Main Theme
- FINAL FANTASY VI: Phantom Forest
- FINAL FANTASY VII: One-Winged Angel
- FINAL FANTASY VIII: Don't Be Afraid
- FINAL FANTASY IX: Not Alone
- FINAL FANTASY X: Zanarkand
- FINAL FANTASY Series: Chocobo Medley 2012
- FINAL FANTASY XI: Procession of Heroes/Vana'diel March Medley
- FINAL FANTASY XII: The Dalmasca Estersand
- FINAL FANTASY XIII: Blinded By Light
- FINAL FANTASY XIV: Answers
My personal and fan favorites were saved to the end to help end the concert on a high note:
- FINAL FANTASY IV: Theme of Live
- FINAL FANTASY VIII: Eyes On Me
- FINAL FANTASY VI: Opera "Mara and Draco"
After this set, Roth invited Uematsu on stage to get yet another roaring applause followed by a quick rendition of the "Happy Birthday" song. Roth invited the crowd to sing along while the theatrical Uematsu held the mic and conducted the fans.
Shortly to follow the standing ovation, the orchestra started to play a powerful battle melody, including FINAL FANTASY VII Battle Theme and Seymour from FINAL FANTASY X.
Another standing ovation was in place and Roth quickly followed the medley by playing the Ending/Prologue theme heard in many of the FINAL FANTASY games. At the very end of the song the orchestra played the beginning of the Fanfare/Victory tune, which got the crowd laughing to close the concert. Fans were invited to stay for activities after the show, which were many of the same booths available before the show.
I observed nothing but smiles and positive reviews from fans in attendance. It seemed that there were a lot a younger and newer fans in attendance, but many of the old schoolers were there, as well.
It was a magical experience and one that I will never forget. Celebrating 25 years of my favorite game series, was riviting and chill binding. Hearing the familiar melodies allowed me to relive some very fond memories of my adolescence. The music in FINAL FANTASY will last a lifetime. It revolutionized video game music and set a standard for all preceding RPGs. How many video games can hold a touring concert playing its music? Not many.
I look forward to celebrate more with Square Enix as the FINAL FANTASY franchise continues to live on.