Saturday, December 3, 2016

Final Fantasy Distant Worlds

After 7 years, Final Fantasy Distant Worlds concert is finally back in Singapore. I did not watch when the first time it was in Singapore so I am very excited for this one. The tickets were selling pretty quickly but I have to say that I am pretty lucky to be able to get a 4-seater at the circle just next to the opening at the center of the hall. The concert was held at The Star Theatre at the Star Vista. It was my first time and I was quite amazed that it could hold 5000 people. Wow.

Despite all the excitement and enthusiasm, I was not really satisfied with the overall concert experience. The concert hall is bigger and better than expected but the acoustic is not good enough as the sound seems to be only coming from speakers in front of the stage. I was roughly at the center of the hall and I found it not loud enough. Not sure if those at the back were having it worse. The incline is not steep enough so the heads of the row in front of me blocked my view. The hall was also not cold enough.

There are tonnes of fantastic Final Fantasy songs but I feel the repertoire was rather poor. There are too many mellow songs which made the mood rather somber. In addition, there is not enough love for the older FF series. I may be biased because I am more familiar with the older series but the songs from the newer series sound somewhat similar to older ones. That is quite ironic considering the newer series have different composers while the earlier ones are mostly done by Nobuo Uematsu. They should just skip FF XI (not many responded when Arnie Roth asked who are fans of it). I think they do not want to be keep repeating the 'better' songs for all the concert and try to play some new songs but I really think the choices are quite bad. Even the usual favourites like Chocobo's Theme was 'butchered'. Bleah.. They should do more medleys as the FF VI and Battle Themes medleys were great.

The videos which are played to accompany the songs could have enhanced the concert experience greatly. Sadly, the videos seem to be just haphazardly done just to make sure that the audience is not bored and have something to see. The selected scenes got repeated a few times, told no story and held little significance to the songs except for the fact that they came from the same series.

The music was not perfect. I could hear wrong notes and imperfections particularly at the parts where there were running melodies that had to be played in quick succession at a short time. I just think it is not acceptable for a concert of this calibre or is it just my expectations. The choir did some gesture e.g raising fists after the Victory Fanfare which should be a fun thing but they sounded and looked robotic insead of fun.

Event management was disappointing too. I understand no photography and no videography rule is pretty normal. But it is really poor (and poor thing for the ushers) that photography was not even allowed BEFORE the concert began. Hello.. it is just a screen showing Final Fantasy Distant World and stage full of empty chairs. What's the big deal?

Part of concert going experience is to get the concert merchandises. I did not even get a chance to see. There is only a small (definitely too small for 5000 audience) area at level 5 dedicated for this. I caught glimpse of the poster and I know there were T-shirts (never mind), Distant Worlds CDs (never mind, I can always download), an artbook, Moogle plushie (saw another person carrying it), and I don't know what else at the bottom half the poster. Sigh.. I am a fan of artbook :( though I am consoling myself that FF is celebrating 30th anniversary next year so there will be artbooks coming out anyway.

The great thing about the whole thing is the conductor, Arnie Roth! He is both conducting and emcee-ing. His emceeing is fantastic: he knows how to hype up the audience, engage the audience, while providing a brief introduction on the next pieces to be played. While introducing the next pieces, he always asked who are fans of the series so this really gets the audience hyped up. He knew FF XV was just released over the week and asked who already played the game. He promised a surprise related to FF XV which turned out to be the 'world premiere' of Apocalypsis Noctis as it was its first time played in Distant Worlds concerts. Quite a smart way to put it that way although the song itself, while pretty good, sounds somewhat similar and familiar to other music from other similar games or some action movies. Good but not memorable enough as a tune just form 1 hearing.

I would have to mention the guest star, Rikki. I am not a fan of the song Suteki Da Ne because it is too mellow and I am disappointed that she really appeared just for that 1 song. She did not even say any words. At the end, Arnie brought her up the stage again twice just to literally stood around and thanked the audience. Aww... I am expecting more since she was so hyped up in the promo materials.

To promote FF XV, before Apocalypsis Noctis was played, audience was asked to don paper masks of FF XV characters and the official photographer would take a photo from the stage. At level 5 (again at the super crowded place that I did not get to go), there were some FF XV promotional activities: like standees of the characters and these paper masks things being given out. I am wondering, though, if the game was doing well as these paper masks bore the date of the game's release, not the concert date. Were these leftovers from game launch or were these specially made for this concert. Noone knows.

My friend kept saying that this felt so cult like right from before the concert. Haha.. We laughed at the taking photo with the paper masks things. To end it off, One Winged Angel was reserved for the encore and Arnie invited all the audience to chant 'Sephiroth' along during the song. LMAO really like a cult. Haha.. But anyway, it was great way to engage audience and the audience was participative. In fact the audience had been great and appreciative throughout the concert. As expected FF VII still got the loudest cheer.

Lastly, I think the best gesture was when Arnie as well as the video slides show mentioned and thanked the fans for undying support for Final Fantasy series so far. Awww... how nice and touching. I may not be that much of a fan but I think I pass the undying criterion with the absurd amount of money that I spent and am going to spend in the future for FF. Lol. While overall I am somewhat disappointed, will I watch again if Distant Worlds is back in Singapore? Yes, I will :) But why? I could just have listened to the music better played online and the nicer videos online too.. Hmm.. maybe because I am a fan and I am already into this cult. Lol.. 

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