After going to the New World concert last year, I thought that if it was the only Final Fantasy concert I would attend that I would be content. But after going to the Distant World premiere performance in Phoenix last night, that thinking has changed a bit. The Distant World concert was fantastic and easily one I would go to again given the chance.
We arrived at Symphony Hall right as the concert was starting and had seats on the balcony which provided a nice vantage point to the giant screen above the symphony. The screen featured footage from the various Final Fantasy games over the years, and at first I thought it would be distracted but it really added to the show. The selection of music was varied and new from the first concert I went to (they even played You’re Not Alone very early on which made my night!), and the footage from each game playing on the massive screen spiced up the experience really nicely as well. It served as a good reminder that this fantastic music came from video games first and foremost.
The highlight of the show though, was Susan Calloway’s songs, namely “Answers” from Final Fantasy XIV. The song was beautiful and wonderful sung live, and it even made me want to consider resubscribing to the game. The feeling to play some of these Final Fantasy games was pretty strong throughout the concert, which I think is a testament to the music and imagery on the screen working together to create interest and nostalgia.
As always, Arnie Roth was enthusiastic about the franchise and the collaboration he has with Nobuo Uematsu. But that’s really where the similarities end with the New World concert: both concerts feel like completely new, unique experiences despite featuring music from the same games. The New World provided more special, exclusive experiences like the piano solos, conductor performances, and the audience being able to sing along with One Winged Angel. And while the larger venue of Distant World makes the concert more standard and formal in a sense, the screen with the videos just adds a whole other layer to the experience. I can’t really choose which one is better, but both have made me extremely excited to explore more of the Final Fantasy games and listen to the music. Not to mention the hype for the Zelda concert not far down the road is real now, and I can’t wait.