I went with a couple of friends and we all came out with the same opinion: amazing show, despite obvious (and fairly numerous) slip-ups.
The fact that this was an amateur orchestra turned out to be pretty noticeable, as expected, but the overall performance was great and it was just, you know, a dream come true to hear the full FFVI soundtrack performed by an orchestra.
Here's a pic of the venue (sorry for the crappy iPhone quality):
It was a pretty big venue (I'd actually been here before for a Dragon Quest IX concert) with around 1800 seats and most of the seats were filled.
From what I could tell, most people were gamers/actual fans of the game as well, and not just people who had dropped in for a free concert (although I'm sure there were a few of those as well), and it was just nice to know that so many people came together to listen to a 3-hour performance of a 20-year-old video game
Here's the "menu":
As you can see (if you bothered to count), only 59 of the 61 songs are on this play list.
The prelude was actually used for the encore (good choice, as it is the final song on the album ((despite it being a damn PRELUDE))), and there was a short pre-concert performance of Johnny C. Bad to introduce some of the main performers, which was quite nice.
I won't go into too much detail regarding each song, but here are some of my thoughts:
- The first two performances: Opening Theme (fortunately the venue had a massive pipe organ) + Tina, and Awakening + Colliery Nalsh were beautiful, but also slightly disappointing because of the harpist dropping way too many notes.
- ALL character themes were highlights of the show. Seriously ALL of them were really well done, with some of my top favorites being Kefka, Cayenne, Gogo (believe it or not), and best of all Shadow, which was a delightfully minimalist piece using only a handful of instruments.
- Mystic Forest + Mystery Train combo is an obvious combo I guess, but it worked and it was wonderful.
- Slam Shuffle was interesting because they used some kind of object to simulate the sound of rain (it looked like a cardboard tube filled with what sounded like sand or something granular in any case), which was a nice touch, but it got drowned out as soon as the instruments kicked in.
- The entire Opera scene (from "Overture" to "Grand Finale?") was... what you'd expect. Which is: absolutely wonderful, but still something I've already heard performed by an orchestra numerous times before. Also, the horns screwed up quite a few times, which was a running theme of the entire concert I'm afraid.
- Was really looking forward to Devil's Lab, which is one of my all-time favorite Uematsu songs (WHY do the Theatrhythm games keep ignoring this track!?), but it was underwhelming and disappointing. They did use some kind of tools to replicate those industrial clangs, but the arrangement felt too fast and chaotic. I guess this is just a hard piece to get right.
- The Catastrophe + New Continent + Fierce Battle combo was fantastic. Especially New Continent has always been one of my favorite tracks and the performance didn't disappoint. This was one of the highlights for me, together with:
- Rest in Peace + Dark World + The Day After. I was happy to hear they used a wind machine, pipe organ, and piano (the piano was actually surprisingly underused throughout the concert) for Dark World. It was absolutely beautiful and I could probably have listened to it for 2 hours straight.
- The last 3 performances were all fantastic. I was a bit worried about how they were going to do Fanatics, seeing as it's kind of an odd song to begin with, but it turned out quite well, and geez, Last Dungeon is just one of the best last dungeon themes ever, despite the unimaginative name.
- It goes without saying that Dancing Mad and the Ending Theme were crowd favorites. Due to the rather large number of individual performances, there was never any applause between pieces (not even after the whole Opera set, which was kind of a shame), but Dancing Mad and the Ending Theme, being the lengthy beasts that they are, both got good rounds of applause. I'd heard an orchestral arrangement of Dancing Mad before, and it didn't veer too far from that arrangement so the impact wasn't that great (also, no chorus or voices/singers throughout the concert, which was very disappointing), but hearing the entire 20-minute ending theme performed by an orchestra is a once-in-a-lifetime experience.
They actually took a tally of the top 10 most popular pieces among the 42 performers themselves, the results of which were displayed in the lobby (The number behind the song title is the number of votes):
For those who cannot read Japanese:
1. Searching Friends
2. Ending Theme
3. Dancing Mad
4. Decisive Battle
5. Terra's Theme
6. Fierce Battle
7. Save Them
7. Opening Theme
7. Aria Di Mezzo Carattere
10. Grand Finale?
They also had a board up where you could vote for your favorite characters from the game by placing a heart-shaped sticker on a piece of paper with their name/mug shot on them:
I didn't snap a pic of the results, but Terra, Locke, Edgar, and Sabin were clearly dominating, with Edgar being the eventual winner if I remember correctly.
Strago and Umaro got very little love though, poor guys, as did Gogo (Kefka was not as popular as I would have expected either. I guess he's more popular in the West?). Banon got 1 vote, Ghastra got none. But Interceptor actually got a decent few, surprisingly, as did Ultros, unsurprisingly.
The FF6 concert was teh awsumz.