Living in the Missouri, you learn that it is rare when large acts visit. If a well-known band or performance visits St. Louis or Kansas City, it is advised you try to attend because who knows when the chance will come again. I’m still a bit disappointed I didn’t see Tom Waits during the Glitter and Doom tour, but the tickets were expensive.
This past weekend, the tour for Distant Worlds: Music from Final Fantasy put on two shows in St. Louis. Conductor Arnie Roth (who is also a member of Mannheim Steamroller) and composer Nobuo Uematsu worked with the St. Louis Symphony for the performances. Each night had a different set-list, although many pieces were duplicated between the two. For my birthday, my wife had bought tickets to the Saturday night performance. This was the second time I have been to Powell Hall to see the St. Louis Symphony, the first being a tour of The Lord of the Rings trilogy.
The show was excellent. The audience was primarily made up of fans of the Final Fantasy series, so anticipation was high and listening was respectful. This wasn’t a performance where the audience paid money to sit and talk the whole time. My wife and I even saw a few costumes: one Sephiroth, a Yuna, and a half-hearted Squall (who only seemed half-hearted because he accompanied Yuna, who had done an excellent costume reproduction).
Each piece was accompanied by a video montage from the corresponding game. Obviously, the games from Final Fantasy VII and later included quite a bit of cut-scene material. The videos for earlier games either utilized gameplay scenes or production artwork by Yoshitaka Amano.
Highlights from the show included Dark World, in which Uematsu-san played synthesizer and Mr. Roth played a wonderfully melancholic melody on violin; Vamo’ alla Flamenco, which had some wonderful Spanish guitar work; and an encore of One Winged-Angel, which included audience participation on the choral parts as the choir only appeared in the Friday performance. Even though these were my personal favorites, there wasn’t a bad piece in the show. Despite being two and a half hours, I could have gladly listened for another hour. If you get a chance to attend a Distant World performance, you should take advantage of it, whether a fan of the Final Fantasy games or not. If you enjoy symphonic music, don’t let the video game origin keep you away.
Program list from 3/24/2012
Final Fantasy VII: Opening – Bombing Mission
Final Fantasy: Victory Theme
Final Fantasy I-III: Medley 2010
Final Fantasy X: To Zanarkand
Final Fantasy VIII: Eyes on Me
Final Fantasy V: Dear Friends
Final Fantasy IX: Vamo’ alla Flamenco
Final Fantasy X: Suteki da ne
Final Fantasy Series: New Chocobo Medley
Final Fantasy VIII: The Man with the Machine Gun
Final Fantasy VI: Dark World
Final Fantasy IX: You’re Not Alone
Final Fantasy XII: Kiss Me Goodbye
Final Fantasy VII: Aerith’s Theme
Final Fantasy VIII: Don’t Be Afraid
Final Fantasy XIII: Blinded By Light
Final Fantasy VI: Opera “Maria and Draco”
Encore: Final Fantasy VII: One-Winged Angel