Finally, being able to move out West for my dream job could not haver worked out at a better time. No sooner did I arrive in my humble abode from Ohio, when Lead Editor Chris offered me a ticket to an experience I just couldn’t refuse, even if it would take me about five hours to drive to. In one of only two destinations in the United States, the Metal Gear Solid Concert was a spectacle worthy of Kojima’s love and dedication to crafting such an amazing world.

Upon arrival, the Wilshire Ebell Theatre in Los Angeles looked akin to an old movie theater with a few greeters there to see your tickets and let you in. However, after that initial moment, the theater transforms into a beautiful place that feels almost akin to a grand theater from days past. My seat was on the second floor and what greeted everyone was a giant stage with a large projector screen showing the words “Metal Gear in Concert”. When the 70 instrument players arrived on stage, we knew our time had come and even my slight migraine from not eating for over 12 hours beforehand could not stop me from being fully engrossed on the action on-screen and with the orchestra.

The concert itself began at around 8:00 pm, but you can tell the orchestra was already readying their fingers as harps began to make soft sounds and violins tuned delicately for the big intro. The conductor bowed a few times and what followed was something that could not be described accurately, but the sound was bigger than anything I had imagined (this coming from someone who has gone to hundreds of rock concerts). The music was immaculate with the musicians making instruments exceptionally powerful and each tune impressed from start to finish.

What helped give weight to the performance though was that the onscreen monitor showed segments of each of the main Metal Gear Solid games and this ranged from the start of the series with Metal Gear Solid 3: Snake Eater to Metal Gear Solid 4: Guns of the Patriots. It was as if they were being played through cutscenes alone. While I didn’t any Metal Gear title other than from the main series, there were the main seven games with a brief intermission at the halfway point. The lighting was on point with the whole room not being pitch black, but a little overhead lighting allowed the room to show the orchestra playing in its entirety and gave the screen just a bit of hue to avoid it being overly bright or not bright enough.

The stage set up was extremely simple though, and I noticed that there wasn’t anything too fancy happening on stage which is understandable as most of our eyes were glued to the screen or the conductor as his hands flew to make the team play in the order they needed to. A few instances of musician highlights were made for special solo arrangements, but otherwise each musician was entranced in providing an authentic experience. What actually surprised me to the most though, was that the theater itself wasn’t sold out. I anticipated that there would be no seats left for anyone but during the majority of the performance, a few rows were left unoccupied. This could have been because the show was originally to be played last year, but was still surprising nonetheless.

There were many moments that sent chills down my spine—especially during the original Metal Gear Solid arrangements—but Donna Burke really made for a standing ovation and was just as majestic as advertised. The first theme she let loose was The Best is Yet to Come, but when she left and came back with a green sequin, and then we knew what song was coming next, and that of course was Snake Eater. Everyone was glued to her hypnotizing performance and after she had completed her rendition of Snake Eater everyone began clapping loudly for what seemed like a very long while. The orchestra was recognized as well though, which Donna also did after the song finished.

Overall, the whole Metal Gear Solid Concert was an experience I was truly appreciative to be a part of. Donna Burke, without a doubt, stole the show when she appeared, but there was not a dull moment and I was spellbound throughout. This was one experience I will truly never forget.