Fantasy Comes Alive – Concert Report

Setlist:

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Track Title Game/Anime
1. Break the Sword of Justice Tsubasa Chronicles
2. Time’s Scar Chrono Cross
3. Granado Espada Medley Granado Espada
4. Kyoudai Fullmetal Alchemist
5. Vampire Killer Castlevania
6.Vamo’alla Flamenco Final Fantasy IX
7. Succeeded Wish Valkyria Chronicles
8. Prime #101, Prime #07 Echochrome
9. Hikari no Senritsu Sora no Woto
10. Never Meant to Belong Bleach
11. Cruel Angel Thesis Neon Genesis Evangelion
12. Aimo ~Tori no Hito Macross Frontier
13. Life’s Merry-Go-Round Howl’s Moving Castle
14. My Neighbour Totoro My Neighbour Totoro
15. Tactics A2 Medley Final Fantasy Tactics
16. Main Theme Odin Sphere
17. Touch Romeo x Juliet
18. Penelo’s Theme Final Fantasy XII
19. Eyes on Me Final Fantasy VIII
20. Tetris Medley Tetris
21. Megaman Medley Megaman
Encore – A Song of Storm and Fire Tsubasa Chronicles
Encore – Cruel Angel Thesis Neon Genesis Evangelion
Encore – Succeeded Wish Valkyria Chronicles

Frankly, I did not have very high hopes for the Fantasy Comes Alive concert. I remember the disastrous experience of the Video Games Live performance where I heard more of fans cheering than proper music. A flip through the programme booklet revealed that it was not even a whole orchestra playing the pieces. As an orchestra freak, I was honestly very disappointed.

However, this was one of the times when I couldn’t be happier that I was wrong. With a repertoire from some of the most well-known games and anime (Final Fantasy, Neon Genesis Evangelion, My Neighbour Totoro and Fullmetal Alchemist, just to name a few), and a surprisingly excellent group of musicians from the local university, the performance was one that I will never forget.

The concert started with ‘Break the Sword of Justice’ from Tsubasa Chronicles, which was not all that well-articulated, but still had the impact that an opening piece should possess. As the concert moved on, the pieces just got better and better, from the upbeat ‘Granado Espada Medley’, to the deeply moving ‘Kyoudai’ from Fullmetal Alchemist before letting one’s imagination take flight with ‘Touch’ from Romeo x Juliet.

There were a few other slightly weaker pieces, such as ‘Hikari no Senritsu’ from Sora no Woto, which had its flute solo replaced with the electric guitar, to disastrous results, and ‘Vamo’alla Flamenco,’ where the acoustic guitar failed to stand out. However, other than these two pieces and a slightly lackluster ‘Break the Sword of Justice,’ the other pieces generally ranged from very good to extraordinary. The weaker tracks did little, if anything at all, to unseat the excellent performance as a whole.

The upper hand that live concerts have over recordings is that you actually see the music being weaved together. And for this particular one, showmanship was absolutely at its max. It also helps that the musicians are younger and as a result, more carefree in their expressiveness, which makes for a pleasant departure from the staid atmosphere of more professional performances.

The fact that the repertoire was a compilation from many different anime and games also lets one experience the different styles and moods of so many composers and separate works. One piece which really left an impression on me was ‘Cruel Angel Thesis’ from Neon Genesis Evangelion. Being a very fast paced rock-styled rendition of the original, it was excellently put forth by the musicians, delivering something which can only be described as phenomenal.

The occasion was also graced by composers Haketa Sakamoto and Hitoshi Sakimoto. Hitoshi Sakimoto was actually one of the selling points of the concert, as he has been among my favourite composers ever since I heard his works for Romeo x Juliet. Though it was definitely an experience to see the two of them in person, I do wish they can give us more details regarding their work, instead of just telling us how glad they are to be in Singapore and such.

Other minor complaints I have include things like the emcee not being familiar with how to pronounce Japanese names properly, some technical glitches and such. But these are flaws which can be ironed out with experience. And with the (near) full house audience it enjoyed, I think it is not unreasonable for me to believe that it may be held annually from now on.

In closing, I’d just like to say that Fantasy Comes Alive really does live up to its name. Though it’s currently a local production, one day if it ever goes out of Singapore, please go experience it. It’s well worth it!

Jen

I have been a contributor to Anime Instrumentality since late 2009 (blimey...). Being a lousy musician trained in cello, keyboard and voice, I feel obliged to censure the other amateurs who have the cheek to release their rubbish to the world, and to affirm those who actually deserve their salary. Nothing gives me more joy than listening to good music, though I admit that writing scathing reviews on bad ones comes close.

0 thoughts on “Fantasy Comes Alive – Concert Report

  • May 2, 2010 at 10:35 pm
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    Egad that’s quite a setlist and all that Sakimoto love gathered in one place is just ridiculously outstanding. I mean, Touch is only the best track from Romeo x Juliet and stuff like Time’s Scar from Chrono Cross are brilliant and I just wish I got a chance to hear that one live.

    A lot of these are familiar on some level or other and it’s good that Kanno gets that chance to shine, Hisaishi’s enjoyable Totoro theme gets that appearance, and, of course, Sagisu’s work for Evangelion and Bleach demanding attention.

    If there is one thing I’m curious about though, it’s the makeup of this orchestral concert. How big was the orchestra itself and what instruments comprised the group? I think it’d be nice to know since you mentioned that it wasn’t a full orchestra.

    Reply
  • May 3, 2010 at 3:07 am
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    Time’s Scar is among my favourite pieces performed that night. The feelings the players poured into it makes it so alive. They also replaced some of the violin lines with the flute, and I thought it was beautifully done.

    Haha I agree about the familiarity part. I was really glad that I knew more than half the things on the tracklist. Gives more room for comparison.

    Well, every single instrument is amplified and I think that in itself says a lot. They had 4 violins, and 1 cello, 1 viola and 1 double bass. From the woodwind side, it’s just a clarinet and a flute. The brass side is just one horn. plus 3 guitars(electric, acoustic and bass), a piano and percussion.

    Reply
  • May 3, 2010 at 9:22 am
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    In the end, because my friend’s mother passed away just a week before the concert we never went. I would have gone primarily just for the FF12 music by Sakimoto and also the GE music, which I realize you probably had no familiarity with. I have none with the ones you mention, except maybe Time’s Scar. All told though I doubt this one garnered as much attention as did Distant Worlds.

    Reply
  • May 3, 2010 at 8:58 pm
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    @Panther
    Well attention wise definitely not much, because it is a new production after all. But considering Distant Worlds is almost always sold out by the time they open ticket sales to the public, I think this concert is great in the sense that at least common folks can get to go. =)

    Reply
  • May 4, 2010 at 6:09 pm
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    I spy some songs I like in there! “Time’s Scar”, “Cruel Angel’s Thesis”, and “A Song of Storm and Fire”. A pity they didn’t include “Radical Dreamers” as well.

    I didn’t know this was a local production. I’ll definitely look them up if they ever come here to the United States.

    Reply
  • May 5, 2010 at 3:19 pm
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    Lots of pretty good selections, particularly the Tsubasa Chronicles songs.
    If it does go out of Singapore and come where I am, I’d definitely attend.

    Reply
  • May 5, 2010 at 10:32 pm
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    @Reltair
    I think radical Dreamers would actually sound really nice with the instrumentals there. I wish they included more of Yasunori Mitsuda’s works in general.

    @Yi
    Break the Sword of Justice wasn’t very well performed but A Song of Storm and Fire was just fantastic. I wish for the day it’ll gain more recognition and be able to progress overseas too. =)

    I mean, all we see nowadays are Final Fantasy concerts, and I just think that there are many many other excellent composers who deserve to have their works performed.

    Reply
  • May 27, 2010 at 12:06 am
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    Hi Jen,

    Thank you for the positive review. I’m glad you enjoyed the concert!

    I just wanted to emphasise an excellent point you made:

    “It also helps that the musicians are younger and as a result, more carefree in their expressiveness, which makes for a pleasant departure from the staid atmosphere of more professional performances.”

    Im truly glad you noticed this. Adrian (the conductor) actually had the chance to use many professional musicians. But the reason he chose those select students is because he just didn’t want it to be ‘another gig’ for them. A ‘salaryman’ musician will go do the job, and go home for another day…

    Sure if that happened, the performance would’ve been near flawless, but above all, I think it’s important for the musicians to enjoy the experience as much as the people who come to hear it. And in the end it showed that they really did love it! You could especially tell when the concert setlist was over, and they really loosened up for the encore pieces, with great results.

    D

    P.S. Anime Instrumentality Blog is awesome! 😛

    Reply
  • May 27, 2010 at 2:41 am
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    @Demetri Potiris
    Wow, my impression of the conductor just skyrocketed. I really admire conductors who focus not only on the music aspect, but also sees the significance of each performance. And I (and most people, I believe) can live with a mistake here and there, but not a performance where the musicians do not feel for the music.

    In fact, Cruel Angel Thesis only won me over during the encore. Before that, others like Kyoudai and Vampire Killer were also competing for the top spot. The encore was just so lively. Everyone seemed to be really playing from their hearts, and it shows. =)

    Reply
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