Sorry that this has taken me well over a week to write up. I've been too busy to sit down and write anything at length about the concert. Finally got to it, though.
Anyway, we got to the concert hall in Yokohama about 15 minutes before the performance began, due to some difficulty in making our way to the place. Unfortunately when we got there, all the programs had been sold out. Grr! Very annoyed at this... can't believe they didn't print more. Anyway, we got to our seats and waited for the event to begin.
It started with an introduction of most of the voice actors from FF12 and Hitoshi Sakimoto. This lasted about a half hour and had absolutely no purpose whatsoever other than for them all to say "please buy our game." ... I was sort of expecting to get to hear at least one of Sakimoto's pieces from FF12 since he was there, but it didn't seem like there was any purpose in him being there at all.
Uematsu made appearances in between all of the songs, joking with the audience, answering questions from the website, etc. He was wearing traditional Japanese garb... hakama and... I'm not sure what the top part is called. He looked really cool, though. I haven't chronicled everything he randomly said (do you really need to know he likes cats?) so I'm just going to focus on the music that was played. And so, without further ado...
The concert kicked off a very cool harp + full choir version of the prelude. This was extremely cool, and a really neat way to open things. I'd love to have this version on CD since it was really gorgeous with the voices. Also, I had totally been expecting them to do the obvious thing and start everything with Liberi Fatale. Instead, they played that piece second. Not a whole lot to say about it, since it was pretty much identical to the in-game version and what people have heard at other concerts. After that, they did Fisherman's Horizon from FF8, which was very very close to the version on the FLWV album, save for maybe a few more "oohs" and "aahs" inserted in this one.
Next up was The Hymn of the Fayth from FFX, which seemed like another obvious choice. It was a little longer than any of the in-game versions and rather cool to listen to at the concert. They moved from that into the ending theme from FFX, including Suteki Da Ne. Rikki came out as the first vocalist to sing for us. While the song was quite beautiful, her voice seemed especially high and squeaky here compared to what's on the CDs. It was still powerful, though, coming from possibly the most poignant ending of any of the FF games.
After that was a break in seriousness, at which point a group of men came up on stage with kazoos and did strange a capella stuff for a lot of FF1-3 themes. As far as I can recall the only theme not from one of the Famicom games was the Moogle theme. They were absolutely hilarious and really good at what they did. Every once in a while they would stop the song they were singing and go into the FF1 battle theme, simulating random battles. After a while, they actually got out plastic swords and simulated the sound effects and motions of an FF1 battle; eventually they started dying and the song began to fall apart until they were all lying on the stage "dead." This was when, in a brilliant advertising ploy, a Japanese girl came on from stage left with a tray of the new Suntory Final Fantasy Potion drinks. The guys drank them (well... pretended to) and then finished the battle and did a rousing version of the victory fanfare. I loved this part of the concert despite how unusual it was. The whole audience was laughing like crazy through most of it.
Back to more serious fare, Emiko Shiratori came out and did Melodies of Life - the same version that's on the new "More Friends" CD, where she sings the whole thing in Japanese except for one English verse late in the song. The final piece before intermission was the Final Fantasy theme.
During intermission there still weren't any programs for sale, but Uematsu-san himself was selling t-shirts at the t-shirt stand. Of course there was a huuuuge crowd and people were trying to take pictures of him. I snapped one, which I'll get up at some point soon. We managed to get pretty close to him, but sadly couldn't meet him. Just as well, I guess... my Japanese isn't going to impress anyone. Although the bits of English he used when he spoke in between the music during the first half of the concert were REALLY REALLY good. I wish my students could do pronunciation that well!
The second half started with orchestra versions of the Prima Vista Band from FF9 and The Promised Land from FF8. These were followed by a performance of the stunningly beautiful opening theme to FF11, leading into a vocal of that theme performed by a woman whose name I sadly don't know (apparently this is a song you get if you finish all of the Chains of Promathia expansion). Anyone have an mp3 of this?
Afterwards, Angela Aki, the vocalist from FF12 came on stage and sang a cool rendition of Eyes on Me without any of the orchestra - just her and the piano. She was easily the coolest performer of all the vocalists... she wore jeans and a sweatshirt and seemed to be very casual and fun. After that, the orchestra backed up her performance of Kiss Me Goodbye from FF12.
The last regular piece of the concert was the entire opera from FF6, which was really really good. Similar to the version on More Friends, but obviously with all the lyrics in Japanese instead of English. The performances of the singers in this were especially good.
Encore 1 was Swing De Chocobo, for which they showed video of chocobo riding in every Final Fantasy game from 2-11 on the big screens. The audience really got into this one, clapping along the whole time.
Encore 2 was, in what is becoming quite cliche, One Winged Angel (FF7AC version). The stage split and The Black Mages came out and Uematsu played the keyboard. The energy of the performance made up for the fact that it's nothing we've not heard before. The crowd was cheering so loud afterward that they did it a second time. The Black Mages guys REALLY got into it, with one of the guitarists actually running out into the audience during the second performance of the song.
All in all, I was a little bit disappointed that there weren't more new arrangements of things we've not heard arranged before, though this concert WAS focused on vocals and there isn't all that much of that to draw from in the FF series. It was pretty much what I would've expected. The performance was excellent and there were no problems with tech stuff like I've heard about the LA concert. Overall it was a good time!