My London trip was filled with many adventures, but it was Distant Worlds, the Final Fantasy concert which I was most excited about. It was something I had always wanted to do since they announced it back in 2008. I was full of anticipation to hear Final Fantasy theme live in a beautiful hall along with friends whom also love the series.To tell you the truth, I’ve always been obsessed with video-game music, and it’s been a secret love of mine ever since I first played Star Wars Knights of the Old Republic. The Royal Albert Hall was elegantly decked out for the occasion. I had been once before when I was 9 to see Aida, but being that young I couldn’t really appreciate the importance of it. Now being 24, I could appreciate the sip of a cold beer while watching the orchestra pound out tunes that bounce off the back of the walls sending shivers up and down your spine.
Distant Worlds opened with an introduction of some important people like Uematsu who was there being as whimsical as always, followed by Hironobu Sakaguchi, the one and only creator of the original Final Fantasy. Knowing he was in the same room as me only more excited than I had previously been. The adrenaline and most likely the pint of beer running through my system started to make me feel a little nauseous. I started to relax when they began performing the original Final Fantasy theme followed by a medley of songs from the first 3 Final Fantasies. It was memorable and a great way to prelude to some of the more popular games in the series. Then of course came songs from 4 and 5. When it came to 6, I had expected them to perform Terra’s Theme, but they chose to opt for “The Phantom Forest” I understand the need to branch out and try other songs and not always go for the most popular, but to be honest I felt more than a little disappointed.
Arnie Roth decided to play “One Winged Angel” from Final Fantasy VII: Advent Children and encouraged the audience to sing a long, which sounds great, but I wasn’t particularly up for, I just wanted to sit back and relax to the music. After, they played, “Force Your Way,” from Final Fantasy VIII, again I let out a low disappointed sigh, I was again expected another song, the more epic “Liberi Fatali” and although 8 is probably my least favorite game in the series, I really do appreciate the soundtrack. The orchestra’s performance of You’re Not Alone from Final Fantasy IX definitely lifted my spirits after a string of disappointments. I think if they didn’t play “To Zanarkand” from Final Fantasy X, it wouldn’t have been only me in the audience who felt duped.
The second part was filled with an array of songs from all the Final Fantasies, as I’m not a huge fans of any of them after 10 so you can imagine how let down I was when they performed two songs from the online game, Final Fantasy 14. However, Crystal Kay’s rendition of “Eyes on Me,” was definitely worth the wait, I’ve been a fan of hers since I was 18 so it meant more to me to watch her perform live than it was listening to “One Winged Angel” live. After this, they performed a new piece; an opera written by Uematsu for Final Fantasy VI that didn’t even feature in FFVI and went on for at least ten minutes eating up precious performing time. It would have been fantastic if they cut it by about 3 minutes and omitted the narration.
Despite the pleas from the crowds to perform, “Aeris’s Theme” as the closing act, Arnie decided to end with “Final Fantasy Theme,” honestly I wouldn’t have minded so much if it weren’t for the fact that he had already played that set piece during the opening . It seemed like a wasted opportunity to end the concert with a bang. Overall, it was enjoyable, but I have to admit my expectations were a lot higher. I guess, I can always book again when they perform in Tokyo, but next time I’ll ask for the playlist.