This post is old, so what you see here may not reflect my current opinion and mindset, certain information may be outdated, and links may be broken.
Last year, I had attended the Distant Worlds concert in Seoul. In August of this year, I found out that they were coming back to South Korea, but they were going to perform at Seongnam Arts Centre Opera House, located in Seongnam about forty minutes away from Seoul. I was eager to attend this concert once more, and I went with my friend Bobby by the subway, where we got off at Imae Station on the Bundang Line. The place was indeed only five minutes away from exit one, so we arrived about an hour early (the concert started at 3), and we looked at the merchandises they were selling. I wanted to get the Kanon CD, but it was 50,000 won ($45) for one CD. Instead, I opted to get this 15,000 won ($12) booklet. Bobby and I both had VIP seats which cost 99,000 won ($95), but we were not sitting next to each other. He ended up in the 2nd row in the middle, and I was six rows back from the stage, and was two rows away from Hamauzu Masashi-sama! I was so near him!
With a perfect seating arrangement, I had a fabulous time! With Prime Philharmonic Orchestra, the Most Voices choir, Kanon as soprano, Ha Man-Taek as tenor, Jeong Geon-chae as baritone, Jeon Ik-Duk as organ soloist, and of course Maestro Arnie Roth as the conductor, it was a beautiful concert. I want to say it was better than last year’s in terms of quality. Unfortunately, the audience wasn’t as fun as last year’s. Last year there was a full house — this year, there were plenty of empty seats. This year’s audience seemed less enthusiastic and receptive.
Regardless, I LOVED IT. Here is what they played.
- Final Fantasy — “Prelude” — How can an FF concert not have this famous piece? The harp solo was gorgeous, and I really liked how it transitioned (without stopping) into the next song . . .
- Final Fantasy VIII — “Liberi Fatali” — Last year I thought the woodwinds and brass were extremely loud. This year, the choir was pretty loud since they had microphones above them, I think. Despite their loudness, this piece is always great to hear live. Gives me the goose-pimples all the time!
- Final Fantasy — “Victory Theme” — Hee! This always puts a smile to my face!
- Final Fantasy X — “To Zanarkand” — Beautiful piece as always. I’ll always love this song since this is the first FF song I’ve mastered on the piano!
- Final Fantasy IX — “You’re Not Alone” — This is one of those songs I never liked in the original game, but I love the piano version and the orchestral version, so I was really happy to hear this live!
- Final Fantasy IX — “Memoro de la Stono – Distant Worlds” — Kanon sang this, and it was GUHHHHHH. BEAUTIFUL. This has become a favourite of mine in the last year, so I was really glad they performed this again!
- Final Fantasy VII — “Main Theme” — This is another song they hadn’t played last year, but I have heard this from CD and DVD recording, so I am glad they performed it this time. I love this song. Such a beautiful arrangement.
- Final Fantasy VI — “Dancing Mad” — THIS SONG WAS EPIC. I wasn’t able to really get into it much through the CD and DVD recording, but hearing it live has made this song so epic that now I love it! The organ soloist was superb, btw!
- Final Fantasy — “Chocobo Medley 2010” — Catchy, bouncy, and cute! I really love the jazzy feel to the song. It’s just really energetic and fun!
A twenty-minute intermission took place where Bobby and I met another American fan of the series and music :D
- Final Fantasy VII — “Opening – Bombing Mission” — Okay, I’ve played FFVII, but this song is still not one I really like. I kind of wished they’d chosen something else to open the second part of the concert instead.
- Final Fantasy I-III — “Medley 2010” — EEEEEEEE! I love this song so much because of the “Rebel Army” theme. That song is truly something I’d consider as a national anthem, so hearing it live . . . I was so enthralled!
- Final Fantasy V — “Clash on the Big Bridge” — I’m still debating whether I like this song or not. I’ve only heard it through the CD and DVD recording, never in-game. I think it’s an okay song, just not something that makes me go HOMG LOVE.
- Final Fantasy VIII — “Eyes on Me” — This was the world premiere performance. Last year, they had played the instrumental version, “Love Grows”. This year, Kanon performed the vocal version. I like Faye Wong’s version, but I think Kanon’s version is also beautiful. Makes me want to play FFVIII now, haha!
- Final Fantasy XIII — “Blinded by Light” — I’ve still yet to play FFXIII, so I wasn’t attached to the song to really like it, but I recognised bits and pieces of it, so I was able to appreciate it.
- Final Fantasy XIII — “Fabula Nova Crystallis” — Kanon sang this, and it was gorgeous. This is one of the few songs I remembered from FFXIII OST, so enjoyed hearing this performance.
- Final Fantasy XIII — “Fang’s Theme”> — Okay, I think along with that Bombing Mission song, this is the other song selection I could have lived without. From the FFXIII songs performed tonight, this was definitely my least favourite.
- Final Fantasy VI — “Opera ‘Maria and Draco'” — EEEEEEEE. I was so, so thrilled to see this being performed again. I never get sick of hearing this, so hearing Kanon and the tenor and baritone guy singing this . . . GUHHH.
- Final Fantasy VI — “Terra’s Theme” — And of course, the infamous “ending” song. While this played, the credit rolled on-screen with the FFVI CGI sequence, so that was awesome as always.
Hamauzu-sama went up on stage, and Maestro Roth told us that Hamauzu-sama actually sang the bass part for Final Fantasy VII’s “One-Winged Angel” when it was first recorded, so he joined the choir and sang in the encore (much like Uematsu-sama did last year!). That was the final performance. I stood up and clapped because they deserved a standing ovation . . . but like I said this audience participation was not great, so I think I was the only one standing up. I felt like an idiot, but these guys really deserved it, so I stood.
Post-Concert Fun and Conclusion
Bobby and I got Kanon, Hamauzu-sama, and Maestro Roth’s autographs afterwards! The guys who were in charge of the lines almost cut us off, but Bobby practically said, “Oh, come on, it’s just two of us, so let us stay!” And they did. Good thing, too. Otherwise I would have punched someone LOL. BUT EEEEEEEEEE! When I reached them, I told Kanon she was very good, and she thanked in her fantastic English. With Hamauzu-sama, he thanked me in Korean, and I responded back, “Hajimemashite.” I can’t remember what else I said to him other than “Domo” when he signed my programme. Then with Maestro Roth, I told him that I was glad they came back and I hope they come back again next year! It’s a shame Uematsu-sama didn’t come to this concert :( I would love to finally meet him up close and get his signature!
All in all, this was a wonderful adventure. Well worth my time, money, and energy. I really do hope they come back — though I fear they might not since it seems like the concert tickets didn’t sell very well this time compared to last year. Regardless, I am glad I had a second opportunity to watch this concert. Nothing beats live, orchestral, video game music concert, so I am just so stoked. Bobby really loved it, too. Though we both agreed that it was lame how Final Fantasy IV wasn’t featured this year, especially “Theme of Love”. Nonetheless, I do hope they come back. Especially to celebrate the 25th anniversary of Final Fantasy in 2012!
After all that, Bobby and I ended the night with dinner at Pizza Peel in Itaewon — the best pizza place in South Korea, I think. He loved the food there, and we had a blast talking about video games and other subject. Today really was great. I wish I could always re-live days like today all the time.