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Song - Artist -
Only Teardrops - Emmelie de Forest -
I will preface this review by first stating that I am a huge fan of the music of Nobuo Uematsu and Masashi Hamauzu. On Saturday March 10th I journeyed with my significant other to Boston to see the Distant Worlds performance of music from Final Fantasy. The concert took place in the historic Boston Symphony Hall, and a better venue could not have been selected. The venue was also set up with a projector above the orchestra which projected images that ranged from original concept artwork to footage from the games themselves (sometimes it was lined up such that the orchestra took the place of the original background music, for example when the orchestra played "Don't Be Afraid" (the battle theme from Final Fantasy 8) with a battle scene from the game projected above them.
The performance also featured a number of soloists, the vast majority of which were vocalists (meaning all but two, who played acoustic guitar and organ respectively). In addition to these vocal soloists, Masashi Hamauzu himself got on stage for the encore and sang in the choir for "One Winged Angel," the very track which began his involvement with the Final Fantasy series (a fact I was unaware of before the performance).
This was a phenomenal 2 hour concert of some of my favorite videogame tracks from my childhood (and adulthood) performed live by a fantastic orchestra and choir (under the baton of Arnie Roth). My only specific (pronounced: "nitpicky") gripes came with some of the acoustics: the violins in "Blinded By Light" could have benefit from being amplified since the hall did not afford them much volume over the horns and percussion, and the encore "One Winged Angel" was taken a few clicks faster than might have been necessary (however, to their credit, it was an encore, and was appropriately brief as a result), but my gripes end there. In the grander scheme of things, those are extremely minor since everything else was spot on. The hall allowed the intstruments to ring fully and accomodated the choir very effectively, and the orchestra was otherwise in tune and very well balanced. The arrangements for those songs that were not originally played live were orchestrated quite well, and there were several times that I got goosebumps (in a good way). I was extremely impressed overall with this performance, and it was definitely worth the hike up to Boston and back. This performance series is a must-see for fans of Final Fantasy.
Some of my favorite performances came from the soundtrack of my favorite title from the series, Final Fantasy VI (they performed the entirety of the Opera "Maria and Draco" and "Dancing Mad"). Other highlights included "To Zanarkand" from Final Fantasy X, the famous "Overture," and "Liberi Fatali" from Final Fantasy VIII.
Overall I give this performance a 9.8/10 and since it is a concert series, I give it a strong recommendation for future attendance. For more information about the Distant Worlds concert series, hop on over to their website.