The VGO being at this event was one of the main reasons I attended. Here's a review of their performances.
I first saw them in Boston back in March of 2009, in which 1200 people attended their concert. It was awesome, be sure to check out my review of that event! They were slated to perform at the Black Orchid Ball, so I naturally jumped through all the necessary hoops to attend. These included purchasing a ticket early, wearing several types of formal wear, right down to black socks and loafers. So was all this preparation worth the event?
NOOOO!!! The dance sucked completely, mostly because what I had come for was greatly exaggerated by the convention. When they said that VGO would be there, they actually meant 4 members out of 100...
I was initially excited when the music started with Dance with the Balamb Fish from FFVIII, but I quickly noticed that it was a recording, same with Eyes on Me. I was starting to get annoyed, and the lack of good-looking girls there wasn't helping. After about an hour, which I passed mostly by talking to other expectant fans, I went to the door to ask about the VGO, which is how I found out the first of the above information. The second bit was even worse. It turns out that they were only playing sporadically, as in one or two pieces every 30 minutes. I was like ok at first, but then I noticed that the generic music "Waltz, Tango, Rumba" whose title was displayed on a big screen, seemed to be looping a lot or at least of a similar genre.
After what seemed like endless repetition, VGO came out and their performance was barely noticeable. I think they only had Mr. Suwada on piano and 3 violinists. A massive disappointment. One would think that with such a small ensemble, they would have tried to mix it up a bit.
At 2 pm (though more like 1:40 as there was sure to be a line) I left the GPX room for the VGO concert. I had high hopes for this event as an apology for the Black Orchid Ball on Friday. Everything started out well as it took place in much larger room. I had a good discussion about the VGO's music choices, which was sure to include One Winged Angel. I just hoped that the program would not be identical to what I had heard in March. Unfortunately, I was right, but it was not what you may think. I quickly noticed that the stage was too small for the whole orchestra. Yep, you guessed it right, only about 20 of them showed up this time. I decided to make the best of the situation, as they would surely adapt their selection based on which players they had present, right? RIGHT?!
Nope, turns out they played a muted and toned down medley of Chrono Trigger pieces that include Crono's Theme, The Millennial Fair (which was the highlight, mostly because it didn't need a lot of instruments and the fact that the VGO hasn't performed it before), At the Bottom of the Night, and To Far Away Times, which was also pretty great, with can shaking instruments and some real enthusiasm from the players. They also played the Metal Gear Solid 3 Theme and the Theme of Laura from Silent Hill 2, in which the vocalist (pretty sure it was Rio Hara again, who wowed me in March) made up for the lack of range in the orchestra.
Most of the performance was good, but I had a niggling feeling that something would go wrong based on the lack of members. They first tried to compensate for the choir's absence by having the audience sing part of the Millennial Fair (the Hup! Part) which didn't go over that well. People either didn't know the piece or maybe came only for the Kalafina Concert afterwards. This problem reared its ugly head again during One Winged Angel, which any fan can imagine the problem of playing that piece without a choir. So they had the audience do that part again, with two very apathetic Cloud cosplayers acting out a fight of sorts. (strange that there was no Sephiroth available, I saw like 10 in 2 days) The conductor, Mr. Sato, tried to signal to the audience when to shout "Sephiroth" but it was just a half-baked effort by the VGO and the few audience members who helped out. I guess they didn't want to hazard the audience attempting the Latin lyrics. The person next to me knew them pretty well, but I guess he and I were in the minority. A lot of the piece felt tinny during dramatic times, and shrill in most other spots. It pains me to say it, but this was the worst version of One Winged Angel I've ever heard! Yes, even worse than the Final Fantasy 20020220 Concert, in which the choir dueled with themselves.
Overall, the VGO was competent, but the performance really served to remind me why orchestras are as large as they are: it is a requirement! You need all the range of instruments and vocals to give the full effect. If you don't have all the orchestra, only play less involving pieces! Their sense of fun and enjoyment still came through on the Chrono Medley, but the rest of the selections were just a mess. I really hope the VGO doesn't attempt this again, as I will have difficulty recommending them in the future. I also really dislike that AnimeBoston didn't tell the audience through a program or similar that the whole VGO wouldn't be there. It is false advertising. The VGO's presence was prominently announced on the website, but details were missing, which is dishonest. DON'T do this again, because I guarantee that I wasn't the only ONE would cared about the oversight!!