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Final Fantasy VII- A Symphonic Reunion review – a bit too much video and not enough orchestra1

Yesterday marked the first concert focused solely on the music of Square Enix’s Final Fantasy VII, released back on January 31, 1997. Final Fantasy VII- A Symphonic Reunion should have been a night celebrating the outstanding music composed by Nobuo Uematsu full of great music brought to life by a talented orchestra conducted by Arnie Roth who I’ve had the pleasure of watching over the last few years. At the start of the concert, everything started off perfectly as Yoshinori Kitase appeared on stage to start the show and afterwards the old Squaresoft logo appeared leading into the prelude followed by Bombing Mission.

It was at that point that things went downhill.

It is time to reunite! To reunite the FINAL FANTASY VII fans in a special, unique, and exclusive event, to reunite the best music and most memorable video sequences of the epic adventure, and to reunite all the spin-offs with the main legendary episode…

Following just about every orchestra performance was either a video or two that highlighted a scene from the game, this was fine at first but it eventually became very frustrating. Don’t get me wrong I love reliving the entire story of FF7 but some of these videos lasted for a while and rather than getting orchestrated music accompanying it, just an enhanced midi track. To me, this took away from the concert, there were a few songs I would have loved to hear performed by the orchestra such as the Crazy Motorcycle Chase or the Gold Saucer to name a few but those never happened. Not even the spin-off videos focusing on Before Crisis, Crisis Core, Advent Children or Dirge of Cerberus got any accompanying music which was a shame. It overall felt like it was 50/50 in terms of music from the orchestra to video sequences which made it hard to really get into the concert, just watching the orchestra sit there having to watch the video for 5 to 10 minutes.

That was my main issue with the concert, well that and for such a “special, unique, and exclusive event” it was lacking new arrangements. Heck, we didn’t even get to hear the Victory Fanfare once!

What we did get was fantastic, I still tear up every time I hear Aerith’s theme, I get excited when I hear Jenova, Chocobo’s theme (even though it wasn’t Electric de Chocobo), Cosmo Canyon and of course One-Winged Angel. I’ve been fortunate to enough to be able to attend so many concerts not just for Final Fantasy including the Dear Friends, More Friends, and Distant Worlds which have all been conducted by Arnie Roth but also various The Legend of Zelda concerts, as well as Kingdom Hearts. This concert in particular,  the one in which I expected to by my all time favorite, is at the bottom but it was still enjoyable it just wasn’t as immersive as the rest. 

At the end of the concert, we did get a surprise as Yoshinori Kitase introduced Tetsuya Nomura appeared on stage as we expected to show off a new trailer for the Final Fantasy VII Remake we’ve been waiting what feels like forever for. The trailer was great which you can check out here but an even bigger surprise was shown at the end of the trailer was the games release date of March 3, 2020!

If I had to give the concert an overall score, it would be a C+. It was necessarily terrible, it just wasn’t anywhere near what I was expecting from something celebrating all that is Final Fantasy VII(which is 22 years old now). I loved the performances and wanted more, I am glad Square did enhance all the trailers for the games shown, and hopefully it leads to HD remakes of games like Crisis Core and even Dirge of Cerberus but less videos more music in the future, please!