I hope you know who the Littlejack Orchestra are, because they are amazing. (Adam Corn wrote a report of the FF VI concert back in 2009.)
Anyway, LJO did an FF V concert (+ some tracks from other FF games) last year and I attended. I wrote down quick impressions during the intermissions and I've had them lying around for a long time. Thought I might as well post it here. At least check out the tracklist
If you read Japanese, there is a very detailed report over at Game Music Garden. Check out the pictures, if nothing else.
(BTW, this year's concert on Aug 18th is all FF IX + Ending Theme from FF VI)
Pre-concert show in the hall with a small ensemble:
FF VI - Slam Shuffle
FF XI - Autumn Footfalls ~ Selbina ~ Vana’diel March
FF V - Castle of the Dawn ~ We're Pirates
FF III - Eternal Wind
FF I - Chaos' Temple
FF II - Castle Pandemonium
The actual show started at 12:30 and ended approximately at 15:15. This means 2 hours and 45 minutes minus two intermissions about 10-15 minutes each. That's more than 2 hours of pure music. In comparison Symphonic Fantasies Tokyo was 1 hours and 20 minutes of pure music. The Little Jack Orchestra played about half the tracks from FF V OSV plus some other tracks from other FF games.
The conductor Shimura didn't talk at all during part 2 and part 3. After part 3 he explained that they have about twice as much music compared to normal performances and no time to talk. He apologized for being silent all the time. Then he continued with the Encore, without walking off the stage and coming back. I guess that would have taken too much time!
The tracks clumped together were played after each other without pausing.
Liberi Fatali (FF 8)
- Sounded exactly like the original version. Very energetic and towards the end volume got pumped up and my eyes teared. It was simply beautiful. The choir did a great job. I can't say whether this was better or worse than the Distant Worlds version. But my eyes didn't tear at the DW concerts!
Shadow Lord ~ Awakening (FF 11)
- I listened to these tracks in preparation for this concert. This was a very enjoyable rendition and I especially loved the choir and percussions. After this medley the conductor pointed to a female in the audience. I'm 90% sure he said that she is Kumi Tanioka, the composer of these songs. She briefly stood up and received applause.
Battle Scene (FF 1) ~ Battle Scene 1 (FF 2) ~ Battle Scene 2 (FF 2) ~ Battle 1 (FF 3) ~ Battle 2 (FF 3) ~ This is the Last Battle (FF 3)
- This medley was one of the greatest things I have ever heard and seen live. The first and second song were great, but nothing more. After that it turned into unbelievable amazingness. The musicians swayed to the music and you could really feel their energy. Especially the violinists, who played lots of fast parts. Those parts weren't conveyed crystal clearly like on the NES (which is impossible), but they sounded really good and no notes felt drowned out. I can't imagine a better performance. They made great use of the marimba too on some of the quick parts.
The whole medley was full of power and energy. The FF 3 songs used a drumkit, which upped the energy even more. My eyes teared at Battle 2 from FF 3. The medley played without silent parts until the last song: This is the Last Battle from FF 3. The silence lasted for half a second and it fit perfectly with medley.
Ahead On Our Way (Final Fantasy V Main Theme)
- The drummer played some fast difficult parts. He kept a steady rhythm throughout the piece with the hi-hat.
A Presentiment (Opening)
- Sounded great, a lot better than the original song. It was like an awesome classical piece with a swaying string section. I really liked the few low piano notes.
Four Valiant Hearts (Four Hearts)
Fate In Haze (Dungeon)
The Battle (Battle 1)
- The Battle felt faster than the original piece. It was fun but nothing special (even though I love the original).
Tenderness in the Air (Town Theme)
- Tenderness in the Air had only a harp and an oboe or a clarinet in the beginning. Those two instruments alone filled the entire concert hall and I couldn't believe how beautiful it sounded. Other instruments did come in, but the oboe/clarinet and harp could still be heard clearly.
- Harvest had some small hand percussion instruments. Other percussions also sounded great. Violinists strummed their violins like guitars. Piano played the rhythmic parts in the beginning but I can't remember if it continued throught out the song. I really loved this arrangement
Walking in the Snowy Mountains (To the North Mountain)
Lenna's Theme (Reina's Theme)
- Walking in the Snowy Mountains was probably the third march song already. Dominated by brass instruments and it sounded great!
The Fire Powered Ship (Fire Ship)
The Ancient Library (Library of Ancients)
- The Fire Powered Ship was simply awesome! It also had some melodies from Intension of the Earth (The Slumber of the Ancient Earth) played by cellos.
- The Ancient Library was a great continuation with awesome percussions!
My Home, Sweet Home (Home, Sweet Home)
- Music Box had two mallet instruments (xylophone and marimba?). They filled the entire hall and sounded great.
Battle With Gilgamesh (Battle at the Big Bridge)
As I Feel, You Feel (Legend of the Deep Forest)
The Evil Lord Exdeath (The Evil Lord X-Death)
Nostalgia (Sorrows of Parting)
- Unkown Lands was just a short 1 minute intro to Gilgamesh, which was great, but short with fast parts played on the marimba.
- The Evil Lord Exdeath had immense power, sounded gourgeous and felt like it was made for an orchestra. The drummer played only kick and snare, with the very occasional cymbal. I haven't really heard a drum kit + orchestra combination without a hi-hat before. The kick and snare alone sounded great with the orchestra. I guess the hi-hat usually stands out a lot, now that I think about it.
The Prelude of Empty Skies (Prelude to the Void)
Searching the Light (In Search of Light)
The Fierce Battle (Battle 2)
- The Prelude of Empty Skies had awesome percussions and the dripping sound, which sounded exactly like in the original song. I have no idea how they did it, but it sounded really similar. The snare drum stood out a little bit (the original song didn't even have snare), but that's okay.
The Four Warriors of Dawn (The Dawn Warriors)
The Decisive Battle
The Last Battle (The Final Battle)
- The Decisive Battle has a pitch bend downward (string section) at 10 seconds in the original song, remember? I always thought it sounded really cool and unnatural. But they did it exactly the same way during this concert! I couldn't believe it! I had forgotten the pitch bending part and it took me totally by surprise! It sounded great, smooth and totally unreal! The original song has a repetive fast bass pattern with 16th notes panning from left to right. The marimba player played that part. Great as always.
- The Last Battle had amazingly fast marimba playing difficult parts. One of the most amazing experiences ever, even better than The Decisive Battle.
The Silent Beyond
The New Origin (Ending Theme)
- Dear Friends started with solo piano. Since the orchestra had no guitarist, piano made the most sense for the guitar part. For the life of me I can't remember what the piano did after the other instruments joined in.
Mambo de Chocobo
- This was surprisingly one of my favourite pieces of the day. It had a really great feeling and was the bext Chocobo arrangement I've heard so far. Nice percussions in the beginning too. When it was time for a piano solo, the conductor pointed at him, like in a rock concert. Such a simple motion, but it gave it so much more feeling and the pianist did a great job.
- The conductor divided us into two groups. Each group practised it's own clapping rhythm. Then the orchestra played Harvest and the audience clapped two different rhythms on top of the orchestra. Unfortunately we drowned out the orchestra a bit, especially the strings. But the piece was a lot of fun and I enjoyed the atmosphere of getting everyone in the concert hall together.
One-Winged Angel (FF 7)
- This was a real surprise (not sarcasm). I think they wanted to showcase their choir. I've heard this live before like most people, but OWA is still great and the orchestra did a great job.