From the dreamy music that opens every Final Fantasy game to the rousing epic chorus of Final Fantasy VII's "One Winged Angel," the Singapore leg of the "Distant Worlds" concert has everything for fans of the RPG franchise.
Even if you're unfamiliar with the Final Fantasy games, hearing the beautiful music played by an actual orchestra alongside footage from the games could still draw you in. Though the newer games' improved graphics are likely to do a better job.
Much of the magic originates with Nobuo Uematsu, the series' composer and a living legend when it comes to video games music. Uematsu, who last worked on Final Fantasy XIV alongside other composers, wrote the music from I to XI, working in genres ranging from opera to swing.
Speaking through a translator, Uematsu says his favorite pieces are "Opera: Maria and Draco" from Final Fantasy VI and and "To Zanarkand" from Final Fantasy X. He won't be involved in the Final Fantasy VII remake despite composing most of the game's iconic pieces, according to a Square Enix producer who was at the interview. But Uematsu says he still hopes to write more music for the franchise in future.
The self-taught musician credits his ability to listen to what others are listening to as inspiration for his works. He'd rather not be known as a genius composer, but one who's smart at listening to what others like.
This ability, however, has paid off in spades, with each of his work featuring catchy riffs that easily draw you in. It also helps that the show's music director, Arnie Roth, is an old hand by now, having been involved with the show from day one, and knows exactly what the fans love.
"Our original mission was to represent a wide selection of music, not just focus on a couple of the games," said Roth.
Following the release of Final Fantasy XV in November last year, Roth has added new tracks from the game as well. This should please new fans of the franchise who may not be old enough to have played the first Final Fantasy game when it was released in 1987.
The rousing "Apocalypsis Noctis" wasn't composed by Uematsu but it went down well, with the audience cheering for its inclusion. Of course, crowd pleasers such as "Aerith's Theme" from Final Fantasy VII and "Opera: Maria and Draco" held audiences spellbound. Meanwhile pieces such as Final Fantasy IV's "Theme of Love" made the two-and-a-half hours' long concert a perfect nostalgic trip for long-term fans.
The audio quality could have been better. Much of the music was coming from the speakers rather than the stage, but this was mostly down to the venue's acoustics. The tour is likely to sound better in New York's Carnegie Hall, for example, where it will be stopping next January.
If you're a fan of the Final Fantasy franchise, you definitely should get tickets to attend. Nothing beats hearing a live orchestra perform the music you grew up with. Even if you've missed playing some of the earlier games, Uematsu's music is so good you can just enjoy it for what it is: pure ear candy.
The "Distant Worlds" tour is headed to London next month, followed by Lyon and Toronto, before returning to Japan before the end of the year. Check the full schedule for more details.
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