Not so long ago Marina and I found ourselves amongst the crowds heading towards the venerable Royal Albert Hall. With my entire being filled with excitement we went inside, took our seats, and prepared ourselves for Distant Worlds. What is Distant Worlds? A concert celebrating some of the greatest music ever created, by the legendary composer Nobuo Uematsu. Who is Mr Uematsu? The musical genius who solely composed the music for the infamous video game series Final Fantasy (I-IX, as well as part of X too). Arnie Roth was the conductor, and the music was performed by the London Royal Philharmonic Orchestra and the Maida Vale Singers.
This was something I wanted to see ever since I stumbled upon it online 10 years ago, and this event happened to fall on the 30th anniversary of Final Fantasy as well as the 10th anniversary of the concert itself. Was it worth finally witnessing it in person? Two words: Heck yes!
It opened surely the only possible way, with “Prelude”: the classic piano piece that plays during the initial loading screen for the majority of the Final Fantasy series. It then seamlessly transitioned into “Battle on the Big Bridge” (FFV battle theme) before stopping for an introduction. Each song played out flawlessly with Roth explaining what was coming up and thanking everyone for their outpouring of support.
While it’s impossible to pick out any one (or even a small set) of the songs that were my favourite, I was very moved by “The Oath” (FFVIII) and got goose bumps hearing “Hymn of the Fayth” (FFX) transitioning into “Zanarkand” (FFX). Of course I was certainly glad to hear (what I consider a classic of Distant Worlds) “You’re Not Alone” (FFIX), and despite it being a much lighter, happier rendition of the poignant original it still filled me with joy. Marina’s favourite was the “Chocobo Medley”, naturally.
Near the end of the night I started to become disappointed at the realisation that two of Uematsu’s signature songs were not played – especially considering it was a 30th anniversary celebration. The joke was on me though, as they returned for a double encore to flawlessly perform both “Aerith’s Theme” and “One Winged Angel”! The FFVII fanboy deep inside me was fully satisfied.
It would be all very well sitting here talking about each song in detail and what they represent etc, but if I did then we’d be here all day! Instead I will close by saying that attending this concert was truly a fantastic experience and I couldn’t fault a single thing from the musical performances, on-screen Final Fantasy video montages or the grandeur of the venue. This is certainly another thing to cross off my bucket list and you can safely bet that once Distant Worlds announces they’ll be returning to the UK I will be exclaiming “Kweh!” and buying my tickets for the next time around.