“The magnificent melodies of Eorzea reaching out like never before.”
- FINAL FANTASY XIV Orchestra Concert 2017 -Eorzean Symphony-
- Sunday, September 24, 2017
- Tokyo International Forum: Hall A, Tokyo
Intro: Welcome, warriors of light!
After being completely sold out the first day, Honey-chan and Bee-kun could manage to squeeze in during the second-day performance of FFXIV Orchestra Concert 2017, taking place at the Tokyo International Forum. Square Enix and the production company Promax managed the event swiftly, even with a huge wave of approximately 4,000 people attending. The line was lengthy, not only folding several times inside the Hall A wing, it went all the way across the plaza and into the next wing of the Forum, and they were arranged in groups of 4! That’s a long waiting time! Or… so you’d think. As soon as the clock hit twelve, the line instantly began to move, and little after ten minutes, everyone was already inside and in their seats! Impressive!
Just minutes before the performance began, nearly all the seats were full; the Tokyo Philharmonic Orchestra members started filtering in slowly to take their places, not long after, lights slowly dim as the conductor Hirofumi Kurita entered the stage. “A strong and impressive opening” is the best way to describe the first minutes of the FFXIV Orchestra Concert. There was no introduction, no words, instead, without a second to spare, the concert started exactly at 1 pm. Sudden trumpet melody broke the silence, the stage lit up and a video of FFXIV cutscene for a new character started playing. That’s right, the audience was no longer in the real world, the orchestra had transported us into the start of our adventure in the city of Ul’dah with the opening title: “A New Hope”.
The daytime theme for Ul’dah was just the perfect way to open the concert, and they just killed it with the new player cutscene, everything was so on point it was just beautiful, and us in Honey’s, as proud members of the Hall of Flames, couldn’t have been happier with the song selection. After the overture, we had a proper welcoming message delivered by none other than Naoki Yoshida, aka Yoshi-P, the producer, and director of Final Fantasy XIV. Yoshi-P was looking as fashionable as ever, but this time a bit more formal than what we’re used to seeing in the love-letters; he was wearing a classic black tux with the white buttoned shirt, with a single silver stripe in the middle; and of course, his unforgettable smile. Yoshi noticed that most of the audience were young adults, especially women, and he was moved that he was able to bring together so many first-timers to an orchestra concert hall, knowing well that this isn't necessarily the type of place you commonly find a bunch of gamers at.
After a few words, he invited Masayoshi Soken to share the spotlight, the famous video game composer/sound editor for FFXIV. Masayoshi was welcomed with a resounding applause, but that didn't make him the least bit shy, as he was pulling jokes from beginning to end, entertaining the audience alongside Yoshi. After some /laughs and /chuckles, they invited the audience to sit back and relax to the beautiful melody of “Serenity”, the theme for Gridania’s Black Shroud field.
Performance: To All of My Children
As the performance continued, the audience must have caught on about the perfectly selected themes which strongly resemble the line of game progression; from starting, to leveling, to reaching Lvl 50, visiting the first 24-man raids, to fighting Ultima in the MSQ, and even reaching some savage content with The Binding Coil of Bahamut themes. All the key titles were there as we accompanied the player on the screen to the unavoidable destruction of the world due to Bahamut’s wrath during the end of A Realm Reborn. After making our hearts uneasy, remembering all the horrible hours of wiping in the raid while the song “Calamity Unbound” played, and reminding us of the horrible Nael Van Darnus, Yoshi-P enters the stage once again to save our mood from becoming too gloomy and brings us his special guest: Nobuo Uematsu. And he didn’t stop with just the amazing composer, Nah, he also invites in the one and only Susan Calloway, who every single player knows as the singer for the main theme: "Answers".
After both special guests shared a few words, it was time for the end of the first half of the show, and no better way to do it than with a live performance of “Answers”, who Calloway made a little more lively and melodic than usual, adding a few variations here and there. After everyone had about an hour for a break, in which Honey and Bee rushed out to see if there was still any merchandise left, and of course, most everything was sold out, all the good things at least (we wanted the Primogs keychain! /cry ). Returning for the second half of the orchestra concert, the Tokyo Philharmonic Orchestra started it off with some Heavensward songs, right into the heat of battle with Heavensward’s dungeon bosses theme. It was a nonstop performance from there, all the way to everyone’s much-awaited “Dragonsong”.
But unlike everyone expected, the part that really stole the show was Alexander’s theme “Moebious”. Everyone who’s played Heavensward knows what time stops are, especially those who messed it up a lot during savage runs a few months back, and yes, the orchestra version also had time stops. The band froze, they literally stopped everything as if their time stopped, music, movement, even the screen that was playing was stopped for several seconds. Many from the audience were confused, some were mindblown and laughing, all until from somewhere behind the stage, instruments started playing really out of tune, a strange eery jingle with drums, bells and a ding from a musical triangle… it was Yoshi-P, Nobu and Masayoshi marching in and around the crowd playing badly to the rhythm of the time stop phase of the song. It was absolutely hilarious, possibly the best part of the second half of the performance, truly a 10/10. As they goofy trio ran out of the stage, the conductor resumed the music all the way towards the end with “Heavensward”.
As the performance came to an end, everyone was pleased with the show, so much that when the conductor Hirofumi Kurita walked backstage, the applause didn't stop, they were really long, like almost 5 minutes without exaggeration, so much that Kurita popped his head from the backstage doors like “you guys done?”. It was funny, the encore was forced instead of ‘given’, so, of course, he returned to guide the orchestra one more time towards the iconic theme “A World Apart” from ARR. Once again, with such a beautiful song as closure, the fans clapped to their heart's content, an applause so elongated that the conductor shyly had to signal everyone to calm down so to give the audience one more song. And just as strong as the show started, it ended, with the recognizable theme, “Torn from the Heavens”.
Outro: gg. ⟪Let’s play together again sometime!⟫
Outro: gg. ⟪Let’s play together again some time!⟫
Finally, the performance ended and once again, Yoshi-P, along with everyone else went on stage. They faced the crowd and with a big smile, they clapped for the audience, and the audience returned it with cheering and clapping. At this point, Yoshi ordered the lights to turn on, so the audience could take pictures, and within a second the room filled with shutter sounds; everyone on stage held hands and bowed together.
Yoshi thanked and praised the special guests, Susan and Nobu, for sparing time from their busy schedule to come and deliver to the audience, to which of course, they replied that they wouldn't have wished for anything better since they sincerely loved the XIV community and staff. Susan Calloway gave a special speech in response to Yoshi’s kind words, in which she assures she would love to keep working with him for as long as she is permitted, as singing the themes for the FFXIV MMO has been a wonderful experience full of emotion and positive reactions from the fans.
Just like a farewell in-game, Yoshi invited everyone to continue having fun in FFXIV, and that he can’t wait to meet us all again sometime; waving goodbye to the audience, everyone exits the stage. Perfect ending to a perfect performance!