Distant Worlds: Music from FINAL FANTASY at Melbourne Arena, August 24, 2019

Square-Enix’s Final Fantasy is without a doubt, one of the greatest game franchises of all time. If anything, Final Fantasy is a rite of passage for RPG gamers and something from our childhood that remains relevant today. But every great game has a defining score to back it. So, when Distant Worlds: Music from FINAL FANTASY was announced to have its Melbourne debut, I leapt at the opportunity to see it.

Distant Worlds: Music from FINAL FANTASY graced the Melbourne Arena stage on Saturday the 24th of August 2019 with a 100-piece symphony orchestra lead by Grammy award winning conductor Arnie Roth who also doubled as the show’s delightful host.

Equipped with a big screen displaying iconic scenes from the Final Fantasy series, Distant Worlds took the audience on a journey performing beautiful music from Nobuo Uematsu’s repertoire; Final Fantasy VI, Final Fantasy VIII, Final Fantasy IX, Final Fantasy X (composed with Masashi Hamauzu and Junya Nakano), music from Final Fantasy XII (composed by Hitoshi Sakimoto, Hayato Matsuo and Masaharu Iwata), music from Final Fantasy XIV (composed by Masayoshi Soken) and music from Final Fantasy XV with composer Yoko Shimomura being a special guest at the concert and appearing on stage to wave to the adoring crowd.

Fans were teary when Final Fantasy VIII’s ‘Liberi Fatali’ played, were impressed by Final Fantasy VI’s ‘Character Theme Medley’, were stoked to hear Final Fantasy VIII’s ‘Balamb GARDEN’ and became quite emotional when hearing Final Fantasy X’s ‘Zanarkand’. But it was the second act which was entirely dedicated to Final Fantasy VII that got the crowd really excited with ‘Aerith’s Theme’, ‘Cosmo Canyon’, ‘Cinco de Chocobo’, ‘JENOVA’ and even ‘One-Winged Angel’ where conductor Arnie Roth encouraged audience participation to chant “Sephiroth!” along with the song.

The Final Fantasy VII segment had a combination of footage on-screen from the original 1997 game as well as footage from the highly anticipated Final Fantasy VII Remake due for release on March 3rd, 2020. I felt that this was very clever to not only celebrate an iconic video game, but to hype up fans for the upcoming release of the remake.

I thoroughly enjoyed Distant Worlds: Music from FINAL FANTASY as not only was it a captivating musical journey through the Final Fantasy series, but it was also a wonderful time travelling display of how far video games have come from 8-bit pixels to modern day technology. My only criticism is that there wasn’t enough merchandise to meet demands. However, this can easily be fixed by perhaps having ticket purchases include an option of preordering a program book in future. Attending this wonderful concert has reignited my excitement for the upcoming Final Fantasy VII Remake and has reminded me of my love and admiration for the Final Fantasy series. Melbourne, we are truly lucky to have Distant Worlds: Music from FINAL FANTASY debut in our beautiful city.

Photography by Grant Alexander.

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