On the evening of December 7th at Chicago’s Akoo Theatre, Distant Worlds’ Conductor Arnie Roth walked into the lobby alongside FINAL FANTASY Composer Nobuo Uematsu and kicked off the evening with two words.
With the 25th anniversary of the FINAL FANTASY franchise landing on December 18th, this concert was the closest event on the calender that payed tribute to one of the world’s most beloved RPG franchises.
The doors to the lobby opened at 5:00pm to a swarm of ticket holders. Inside, attendees could get their pictures taken at the same photo booth that was set up during the PAX event back in September and receive a poster for Lightning Returns FINAL FANTASY XIII. There was also a Theatrhythm table set up where people could sign up for one of the tournaments held before and after the show to win a special PlayStation 3 or Xbox 360. Also present was the merchandise booth which was packed full of Distant Worlds The Celebration shirts, FINAL FANTASY 25th Anniversary goods, and several soundtracks from the FINAL FANTASY series.
Before the concert, Arnie Roth and Nobuo Uematsu came out to a small stage in the lobby to give a small preview performance which was made up of Dark World from FINAL FANTASY VI as well as a Chocobo Medley. You can see a video of Dark World below, provided to us by former GE podcaster Xyle Harkyn.
Shortly afterwards, the crowd took their seats in the theater as the concert went underway.
It began with a medley featuring the first three FINAL FANTASY games and went on in chronological order with Battle With Four Fiends, the FINAL FANTASY V Main Theme, The Phantom Forest, One Winged Angel, Don’t Be Afraid, You’re Not Alone, Zanarkand, Vana’diel March, The Dalmasca Estersand, Blinded by Light and Answers (accompanied by the End of an Era trailer).
But the night didn’t stop there!
The crowd was also treated to the Theme of Love from FINAL FANTASY IV and new Chocobo Medley which was kicked off by FINAL FANTASY XI’s Chocobo raising music and continued on to feature Mambo de Chocobo from FINAL FANTASY V and Pulse de Chocobo from FINAL FANTASY XIII. This selection also had a new video put together which was timed with the music to provide several laughs to the audience.
Susan Calloway returned to the stage to perform Eyes on Me from FINAL FANTASY VIII. A group then came out to perform Maria and Draco, the powerful opera from FINAL FANTASY VI. This was an orchestrated version of the Darkness and Starlight song from the third Black Mages album of the same name. A Battle Medley followed which contained Battle on the Big Bridge, Fight With Seymour and Those Who Fight.
As the concert came to a close, Arnie Roth brought out Uematsu from backstage and handed him a microphone. They then asked the audience to sing along as the orchestra performed Happy Birthday. One Victory Theme and performance of the Main Theme of FINAL FANTASY later, the show came to a close.
Afterwards, fans with special VIP tickets were able to meet with Arnie Roth, Nobuo Uematsu and Susan Callow back stage and get items signed by the trio in addition to getting a picture with them.
Overall, this was a fantastic night for fans of FINAL FANTASY and a great way to celebrate the 25th anniversary of the franchise!