A New World: Intimate Music from Final Fantasy ~ 15-02-14
On Saturday 15th of February I travelled to London to witness a wonderfully intimate music concert, which filled the LSO St Luke’s Jerwood Hall with compositions from every Final Fantasy game, One to Thirteen. This was ‘A New World: Music from Final Fantasy’, featuring the Navarra String Quartet, Benyamin Nuss, Arnie Roth, and Nobuo Uematsu himself.
This was my third Final Fantasy concert at which Nobuo Uematsu was in attendance, and as always it was such a magical feeling to be in his presence. At the previous UK concert, Final Symphony, I had the honour of getting to shake his hand and thank him - this time, I had the pleasure of hearing him actually perform his own music! Watching Uematsu-san play one of his own compositions (Dark World), in front of an audience of his own fans, was an absolute delight and a great inspiration to me. An unforgettable moment.
As a whole, the concert was superb. It was so extraordinary to be in such a small, intimate venue with these fantastic musicians, Uematsu, and a small audience of Final Fantasy fans. It felt very personal, like it was some kind of secret gathering haha. Awesome!
The musicians were absolutely phenomenal. Benyamin Nuss is such a talented young pianist, and so charming too. The squeaky toy his used during Ukulele De Chocobo was hilarious haha. And Arnie Roth is just so loveable. I already had much respect for his organising of the various FF concerts, but to hear him play the violin alongside both Uematsu and Nuss was unbelievable. He synchronised so well with them both, I had no idea he played violin so beautifully (despite the little mishap at the end of Blinded by Light haha, kudos to him for the re-attempt!).
The set-list (which you can see in the above photoset) was a total surprise to everyone I think. There were actual audible gasps heard from the audience when songs like “The Red Wings” and “Fight With Seymour” were introduced, and deservedly so! The chosen songs were those not typically heard at the larger concerts like Distant Worlds, and this seemed to have a great impact on the audience; this really made the concert something special for everyone. A personal highlight in the set for me was “Fragments of Memories”, as its bitter-sweetness really touches me. It was just the perfect arrangement for the string quartet, and the Navarra String Quartet performed it flawlessly. Again, another unforgettable moment.
The only weak point for me personally was the classical guitar; I just felt that it could have done with some backing accompaniment from the rest of the orchestra, even if it was something very light. Oh, and a full song from FFIX wouldn’t have gone amiss either. Other than that though, it was a splendid performance by everyone.
As a sort of bonus, we had the chance to walk onto the performance area after the show. It was such a strange feeling to be walking amongst the instruments that the musicians had been playing with just moments before - you could still feel the energy of the music right there amongst the instruments. The temptation to sit at the Nord synthesiser and play was scary haha, but just to be up close and personal with the set of keys that Uematsu had been playing was an unreal and amazing feeling. If I didn’t sound like a complete fanboy in my previous blog, then I definitely do now haha. Another highlight of this after-show treat was taking a close look at the sheet music that the musicians had been using during the performance. There was just something really special about that to me, especially the little scribbled notes on the Dark World score. This really did make the whole experience feel very intimate and personal.
If it were to come to the UK again (and I so hope it does) I would probably opt for the evening performance instead, as it may have just lent an even more intimate experience with the visible night-sky surrounding the venue. Still, this time I probably made the right choice to go in the afternoon as the trains were a complete shambles on Saturday. I only travelled from Brighton, yet it took far too long to get there and back due to cancellations and delays! Very sorry for those who perhaps didn’t make it to London that day, such a terrible shame :(
The good news is, Arnie Roth himself said that announcements of future UK concerts will be coming very shortly, so anyone who didn’t make it to A New World will have another chance to experience other wonderful Final Fantasy music events :)
Overall, it was a stunning show that had everything a Final Fantasy fan could ask for. Top musicians, wonderful music, and an intimate environment with Nobuo Uematsu amongst us made it a beautiful afternoon/evening to experience. Can’t wait for the next one.
Oh, and a shout-out to the chocobo cosplayer that was there - amazing costume, not to mention the perfectly accurate chocobo cry haha!
Thanks so much for reading :)