Eight months. It was eight months ago that tickets to Video Games Live were put up on sale. For the first few weeks it was hard to believe the day would ever come at all but as the thought of the day made its way to the corner of our mind, time sped itself along at a steady pace and rewarded us with our patience tenfold. I cannot remember the last time I have been to the Jack Singer Concert Hall but I never remembered it feeling so small before. The lobby was filled to the brim, all floors covered with children, teenagers and adults alike with one thing in common: the love of video games. Doors to the main theater opened and we packed ourselves in to the rather small seats on the main floor and as we waited were entertained by a cosplay costume contest.
Of course, not many costumes people arrived in were very good and some seemed as if they were thrown together from a thrift store on the way to the event, however one person came in a self-made, form-fitting costume of Amaterasu from Okami that was absolutely stunning and as such took first place by audience reaction. The lights began to dim as the last few people made their ways to their seats and the orchestra plays the sounds in sync with video of the game Pong and we are treated to a well composed medley of the sounds and music of classic games up to the NES. It is a rather humble but fitting beginning to what is going to be a great night.
Tommy Tallarico and his partner in crime, composer Jack Wall, have done a phenomenal job in the imagining and bringing video game music to the stage. The arrangements of medleys used flow together extraordinarily well and the Calgary Philharmonic Orchestra showed their musical prowess by playing each note with the dynamic emotion the games they were taken from emitted. Martin Leung (of internet viral video fame) was beyond words and is truly an inspiration to watch as his fingers fly faster than the hundreds of eyes watching them. Splitting Adam put forth a good footing for the second half of the show with a performance of their song On My Own from Need for Speed Undercover, however it was a somewhat awkward choice as it was, in essence, a rock song in a classical music setting.
What had to be one of the coolest moments of the night was a live Skype talk with Ralph Baer, the man responsible for the advancement and commercialization of video games and for such popular toys as Simon. While the connection was somewhat bad and therefore resulted in unfortunate distortion as he spoke, Baer held the room on every word and was well respected and revered by all. The video shown as an introduction was of Baer and his assistant playing Pong shortly after its creation and was a neat look into the past. Other audience segments included an audience member playing Space Invaders as the gunship by moving back and forth on stage and Guitar Hero: Aerosmith where the winner of a previous Guitar Hero competition in the lobby played the game on the big screen while Tommy and the CPO played the song along with him. Although the Space Invaders player lost, the Guitar Hero player bumped the difficulty up to Expert and fared relatively well, taking home the prize of “a bunch of cool sponsored things” but failing to take the top high score (maybe next year).
Set List: (video links are not my videos)
Intro Medley (Classic Games)
Metal Gear Solid
Final Fantasy Medley (arranged and played by Martin Leung)
Skype interview with Ralph Baer
Beyond Good and Evil
INTERACTIVE SEGMENT: Space Invaders
Legend of Zelda
Need for Speed Undercover (feat. Splitting Adam’s “On My Own”)
World of Warcraft
Super Mario Theme
Super Mario Theme blindfolded
INTERACTIVE SEGMENT: Guitar Hero Aerosmith (“Sweet Emotion”)
Chrono Trigger/Chrono Cross
ENCORE: One-Winged Angel