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I make no apologies for being a fan of Final Fantasy. While I do admit that they have not earned my dollars in the past few years, I still will go back and play the classics, because that is what they are. There is a reason why they are called classics and are still to this day considered some of the best RPG's from the past.
Back in 2004 on the heels of the first successful concert, 20020220 Music from Final Fantasy, Shiro Hamaguchi partnered with Nobuo Uematsu again to do another concert. Instead of one night with the Tokyo Philharmonic Orchestra, they would do 7 concerts in 6 cities across Japan. Hamaguchi got Taizō Takemoto to again conduct the orchestra as he had done so back in the 2002 concert.
So how is the album? Well the kicker is that I have not been able to buy the album as it was a limited DVD run and given out exclusively to members of Nobuo Uematsu's fan club. So my exposure has been limited to Youtube video's which in this case actually works in the album's favour. There is something special about watching an orchestra perform your favourite tracks infront of an audience. For me, it feels as if I am there in the crowd.
The concert performed one or two tracks from each game from Final Fantasy IV to XI as well as a medley of tracks from Final Fantasy I-III and they are all stellar, including The Oath from Final Fantasy VIII and given my dislike of the music from that game, I consider this quite a feat. Something else they did that I consider icing on the cake is during the Final Fantasy Opera/Maria and Draco, they had Etsuyo Ota, Tomoaki Watanabe, and Tetsuya Odagawa to perform as Maria, Draco and Ralse respectfully. The three of them do a fantastic job on this song.
However, one of my favourite pieces from this has to be either their rendition of You're Not Alone or Final Fantasy Main Theme. While the former invokes the same feeling of hope from the game, the latter is truly special. From simple beginnings to playing with the Tokyo Philharmonic Orchestra, is is amazing to see how it all comes back to this iconic tune.
While the above is true, the real reason that this track is so great is because halfway through the song, Hamaguchi gives up his baton and orchestrating duties to Uematsu himself (who proceeds to use his own Baton he produces from his pocket). The applause itself is so grand it nearly drowns out the orchestra. It is such a profound moment that you can't help but smile.
I absolutely love this album. Growing up with this series, I have fallen in love with this type of music and I consider Uematsu one of my musical heroes and I considered him one of the cornerstones of the original company along side Amano and Sakaguchi. When they left, the original Squaresoft was gone and in its place was Square Enix. I am not decrying the efforts of the current company as that is what they are, a company and companies have to make money. I just feel that when the three left, they took a something from there that made the games special.
So where can you find this album. Sadly I have been unable to find the CD for purchase anywhere. As I have said, my only exposure to the soundtrack has been through Youtube links. If you are able to purchase it for a reasonable price be sure to do so as it is a fantastic album.
Next time, I gear up for a fight because the minibosses are back in action. This is Daimo Mac and I am lost in the music.
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Heads up. The VGO plans on performing live in Boston on the 7th (tickets here) and they wish to produce a live CD. Of course, things like this cost money so they have started a Kickstarter and need your help. For more information, visit their Kickstarter page