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Having Friday Fun on a Flashback Friday: From NYC to Distant Worlds

Ah, life. You ask for tomatoes (toe-MAH-toes), someone gives you tomatoes (toe-MAY-toes).

It's no big deal because at the end of the day, it's the same difference, right? You still get yummy, red fruit to slap onto a hamburger!


So yesterday, I requested examples of your favourite Final Boss Music and/or Boss Music and in its stead I got a debate on which Final Fantasy is the best. It's cool, Kotakuites. I'm appreciative that they were at least very heartfelt discussions and very intelligent responses. Toe-May-toes are cool, too! I still love you guys even though I still have no idea what boss music you like. =/


Though in fairness, fellow Kotakuites Astrokid248 and Walfisch05 did draw my attention to the Final Fantasy: Distant Worlds concert that happened close to two years ago. Luckily for me, I was in attendance at one of the NYC shows and thought I'd do a mini-concert review for Flashback Friday (by request!). The original post of this was done on my personal blog some where else that's not here. I'm editing it but here's the gist of it. It was originally written and posted on April 04, 2011.

Please share with me your experiences if you were in attendance too!

From NYC to Distant Worlds

Love them or hate them, there was one constant in all of the Final Fantasy games for me to admire and that was the music.


Artfully composed by the wonderful Nobuo Uematsu, the music of Final Fantasy has defined many of my early memories of video gaming.

My music library is chock full of his compositions - reminding me of happy times exploring dank caves, the frustrating times of trekking across wintry landscapes as I slipped on ice, riding chocobos across grassy plains, battling green foul-mouthed Malboros as I quaked in my (winged?) boots upon their sight, stumbling upon great cities that stood high in the clouds or those that glistened below the ocean, or the shocking delight I felt as the sword was plunged into the little flower girl as she prayed peacefully in the underground city of shimmering water (and my real life maniacal laughter that followed).


When I found out that the fully orchestrated concert for the music of Final Fantasy was coming to NYC, there was no choice for me but to attend (and I thank you, my sister for coming with. And apologize for you know who, soon to be discussed).

Although I would have liked to attend both nights, I could only choose one and I went with Friday night's performance.


It was easier to get to than Saturday's, and the price range was not cheap either. Having the performance schedule was also helpful in making that decision. More songs from Final Fantasy VII and VIII would be played on Friday night while Saturday night's performance had more Final Fantasy VI and IX.

Look, I may dislike Final Fantasy VIII a lot but the soundtrack is pretty great and "Liberi Fatali" was being performed, so I had to make the hard decision to go with that instead... It still hurts I could not attend both nights. ::sniff::

Nobuo in the flesh (!) was in attendance, hopping on to the stage with a giant wave to the whistles and applause from his fans. He quickly made his way into the audience to his seat which was just a couple of rows behind mine.


The show began and immediately there were many "aww" moments for me and everyone else there. What other way to start a Final Fantasy concert than with none other than "The Prelude"? The harp was calming, the Orchestra came in beautifully and most everyone in the room sat pondering quietly - no doubt remembering their own personal experiences and fond memories of their favourite moments from the Final Fantasy series.

The screen displayed cut scenes from the respective games and there was some humour there. Zell was arguing seemingly to a dog, the FFVIII crew with their stilted movements ran into the city and into the track "Don't Be Afraid".


'Nostalgia' was the word of the night, as familiar sprites and favourite characters ran around on the screen and the Orchestra played the scenes perfectly. In two hours, a small fraction of gorgeous, memorable, fun, quirky and heart-tugging emotional music was brought to life by that very capable orchestra.

Illustration for article titled Having Friday Fun on a Flashback Friday: From NYC to Distant Worlds

The Final Fantasy: Distant Worlds @ the Brooklyn Academy of Music's Howard Gilman Opera House on 04/01/2011 set list:

Prelude (Final Fantasy series)
Victory Fanfare (Final Fantasy series)
Liberi Fatali (Final Fantasy VIII)
Don't Be Afraid (Final Fantasy VIII)
Memoro de la Stono - Distant Worlds w/ Susan Calloway (Final Fantasy XI)
Ronfaure (Final Fantasy XI)
Man with the Machine Gun (Final Fantasy VIII)
Suteki Da Ne w/ Susan Calloway (Final Fantasy X)
Chocobo Theme/Swing de Chocobo (Final Fantasy series)
Clash on the Big Bridge (Final Fantasy V)



Opening ~ Bombing Mission (Final Fantasy VII)
Fisherman's Horizon (Final Fantasy VIII)
Kiss me Goodbye w/ Susan Calloway (Final Fantasy XII)
To Zanarkand (Final Fantasy X)
J-E-N-O-V-A (Final Fantasy VII)
Fabula Nova Chrystallis (Final Fantasy XIII)
Blinded by Light (Final Fantasy XIII)
Navigator's Glory (Final Fantasy XIV)
Answers w/ Susan Calloway (Final Fantasy XIV)
Terra's Theme (Final Fantasy VI)



One-Winged Angel (Final Fantasy VII)

The evening, as any concert we have attended, was not without some sort of complaint as no performance can be absolutely perfect.


The Low-Lamps (Cons)

1. Susan Calloway. I found her vocals to be weak, and she did not do a good job of holding notes. She may sound somewhat decent on record but live? It felt a disaster to me especially the 'talking' vocal work on the Final Fantasy XIV piece. ::shudder::

2. The animation cut scenes. Not every scene was bad and as I said, some were rather funny and some were cheer worthy but the recycling of certain scenes just felt lazy. I think a better job probably could have been done in those instances.


3. "Fisherman's Horizon". While I do think that Final Fantasy VIII is probably one of the best soundtracks, there are a few tracks on there that I absolutely just don't care for. This was one of them. It was not performed poorly, but it was rather dull. That's a personal preference but of all the songs to play...ugh. Come now. This could easily be replaced. By say..."Dancing Mad". The evening was severely lacking "Dancing Mad".

4. The lack of Final Fantasy VII, Final Fantasy IX and Final Fantasy VI. Only a few pieces were played from VII, nothing from IX and just one from VI. Sure, I knew what I was getting into when I chose to go on Friday night but one piece from FFIX? Please? That Final Fantasy screams "theatrical". I envy the people who got to go on Saturday night!


5. The acoustics. The Howard Gilman Opera House was small and beautiful but the Orchestra did not sound as full as I thought they would. It was kind of sad, really.

Having Friday Fun on a Flashback Friday: From NYC to Distant Worlds
The highlights?

The Highlights

1. That one guy in the Orchestra - No. 3. My sister and I loved No. 3. He was always smiling, loving what he does and enjoying the crowd reaction. He almost seemed as though he was the bad kid in class too. He was funny and often times, we had a laugh at his antics. I don't think he realised we were on to him but we thank him for keeping us entertained, especially during those moments when Susan Calloway was on stage.

Having Friday Fun on a Flashback Friday: From NYC to Distant Worlds
No. 3. He's on the right.

2. The Orchestra and choir. At first, the choir did not start strong but as the evening progressed, they were a welcome addition. They sort of botched "Liberi Fatali" a bit and for that I am a tad disappointed but they really pulled through later on. The Orchestra was good. They kept up and played wonderfully. It is always wowing to see such a group of talented people - doing what they do best, and amazing at reading a whole other language that is sheet music.


3. Conductor Arnie Roth. Now, I'm not quite sure what the point of a conductor is. In theory, I understand but whatever the case may be, the man had personality. He clearly loves these pieces of music and pours his heart into them when he's leading the band. His banter with the crowd was welcome too and made the evening classy but playful and relaxed.

4. "Man with the Machine Gun". I really dislike this song. I never understood the fascination that fans have with it. Okay, so Laguna's cool and as his theme music, I guess I'm supposed to like it? But, I don't. At all. However, I was pleasantly surprised by the Orchestra's version of it. It was quite good, actually. Really good. And that pains me to say it because I never thought I would.


5. Victory Fanfare. A winner is me.

6. "Ronfaure" from Final Fantasy XI. I never played FFXI and probably never will but the animation was beautiful, and the piece was full of emotion when played live. It was probably the second best performance of the evening.


7. Final Fantasy XIII may have killed my PS3, may not have had an absolute favourite soundtrack of mine, nor was composer Masashi Hamauzu in attendance for his scores to be played but played them they did. Two pieces from FFXIII were performed and they were refreshing to hear having distanced myself from that game after the death of my PS3, and my lukewarm feelings towards that particular installment.

8. The happy memories from Final Fantasy V and the tragic, teary-eyed memories from Final Fantasy X. Yep, I laughed when they played "Battle on the Big Bridge". Gilgamesh remains hilarious to this day and the great scenes from the game were equally fantastic. I remember you Gilgamesh and your penchant for fleeing.



And from FFX, I cried a little inside. It was sad when Tidus vanished but I couldn't bare to look at Auron! ::sniff:: The two FFX pieces played always make me sad. I'm a wuss. Now shut up.


9. Nobuo Uematsu. As I said before, the man is brilliant. His music introduced and encouraged me to play a lot of video games and to appreciate the scores behind each. He set the standards very high, but through his work I've come to enjoy many other great video game composers. As he stood on stage - this humble Japanese man with long greying hair tied up in a bandanna - it was not hard to feel a sense of gratitude and adoration.

Having Friday Fun on a Flashback Friday: From NYC to Distant Worlds
Nobuo Uematsu - so cute, and amazing. It was an honour.

Of course, the biggest highlight for me was everything played from Final Fantasy VII but best of all, the encore performance was with a full choir with Nobuo weaving and ducking into the mix to join in singing the lines of "One-Winged Angel". It was the best performance of the evening of my most treasured piece of music from the Final Fantasy series.

I would have been disappointed if it was not played. When it started, the audience was thunderous in its applause and I right there with them. We all took a second to breathe after the screaming to just listen to one of the greatest pieces of music of all time complete with the surreal feelings of the man who created it right there in front of us.


Truly, it was all for that moment.

FELLOW KOTAKUITES, COME ON DOWN! You already found yourself here, but why not go join in some fun over at TAY Classic too while you're at it? I've seen that place. They're giving away boats and cars over there (if you guessed the right price, of course) And they're discussing everything you wanted to talk about too.

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