As Michaela mentioned in another post, we had the chance to go see the Distant Worlds concert in Phoenix this past weekend. It’s actually the third time I’ve been to a Final Fantasy live event — there was A New World last fall, and I was at the very first Dear Friends concert in North America in 2004.
Hearing some of these iconic themes played live is a surprisingly emotional experience for me. A couple of particularly poignant themes at last year’s intimate setting almost had me in tears, especially after a pretty rough few weeks. Something about the way I process video game music helps it connect with me on an sentimental level. When I hear certain themes, I connect them to how I felt when I was playing that game, either because the moment was interesting or the song stuck out in context, or simply because of what was happening in my life at the time.
As such, I’ll continue to support these concerts as long as they come to Phoenix (or in a dream world, Flagstaff). It’s an awesome two-hour experience and something I would never have believed as a kid. Video game music in a symphony hall? Fans dressing up in cosplay alongside people wearing fancy dresses and suits? Absurd. Won’t ever happen. Forget it.
At these events, some tracks really shine. Nobuo Uematsu has produced some awesome arrangements for a full orchestra, and while a few don’t quite measure up to the original (looking at you, FFVII’s Cosmo Canyon), others resonate in ways you never expected.
Below are two versions of Answers, the main theme of Final Fantasy XIV as performed by Susan Calloway (who was in Phoenix for our concert). Both are neat in their own right, but I thought the Distant Worlds version was phenomenal — and even the YouTube version can’t quite capture the experience of being in the symphony hall and hearing the crescendos echo through the rafters. Still, they’re both worth checking out.
Music to My Ears covers soundtracks or individual songs from video games. You can view all posts in the series by clicking here.