That’s right guys, when I said a full blown orchestra put on a FREE concert featuring nothing but the wondrous sounds of the Final Fantasy Tactics soundtrack, the “free” part is not a typo. As a die hard Final Fantasy Tactics fan (it’s my second favorite game of all-time), I have always yearned for live events like the much heralded Final Fantasy: Distant Worlds concert, which features some of the best music from the world of Final Fantasy, to give some much deserved love to the likes of Final Fantasy Tactics. But that was not to be…until now. I honestly never thought I would see something like this in my lifetime, especially so many years after the initial release of the game, and even re-release of the game on the PSP.
But once again, the amazing things that happen here in Japan for gamers continues to blow me away. Enter the Knights Templar orchestra, a group whose sole purpose was to put on this very concert that I was beyond fortunate to be a part of. Held in Tama City, Tokyo on July 19, 2014, this free event, which I believe was put together through fund raising, was held in a relatively famous venue called The Parthenon, that happened to be a stone’s throw from the Sanrio theme park and home of the one and only Hello Kitty. I swear, only in Japan could two things like Final Fantasy Tactics and Hello Kitty share real estate like that on a given day.
Tickets for the illustrious event!
Tickets were handed out on a first-come first-served basis, and since you could not reserve tickets in advance, getting there early was absolutely essential. We managed to get there about an hour and hour before the doors opened, and after waiting in line for a bit, a group of ushers, who I later found out were all volunteers, handed my lady and I our tickets. After downing some coffee and donuts from Mister Donut (Remember these guys from back in the day? They’re still around in Japan,) we were ready to wait in line once again to get inside, since seating was also first-come first-served.
The concert was broken up into three acts, which featured nearly 2 hours worth of music and over 50 songs from the game put on by an orchestra that was made up of dozens of musicians. The lovely lady who was MCing the event even came out in different costumes, each time going into the back to “job change”. I was just happy she decided to rock a Time Mage costume, which is my absolute favorite job class. Some tracks of note that were performed were as follows:
- Prologue Movie
- Hero’s Theme
- A Chapel
- Team Making
- Random Waltz
- Ovelia’s Theme
- Under The Stars
- Battle on the Bridge
- Ultema The Nice Body
- Epilogue Movie
- Staff Credit
Unfortunately, but probably to no one’s surprise, video and photography were absolutely prohibited during the performance. But if I’m being honest here, the performance, especially for a die hard like me who spent many of his teenage years guiding Ramza and his crew through Ivalice time and again, to hear the music live was so unbelievably moving. So moving that I was in fact moved to tears a number of times, and probably would not have been able to break my state of mind to snap some photos. Hey, call me what you will, but that is a testament to not only how good the performance was, but how powerful the music from this game is.
Now, I cannot say for certain, but I believe the reason that they could not charge for this event was because unlike concerts like Distant Worlds that are OK’d by Square Enix, this is performed by fans, for fans. They may have also done it for free on purpose, since this was a one time only kind of event. They didn’t even have merchandise like CDs or t-shirts for sale (which I would have instantly bought if they did have them), so we just have our program guides and our memories to hold us over.
One very nice surprise though, was despite not being licensed by Square Enix, a very important guest was in attendance for this event. The composer himself, Hitoshi Sakimoto, was there to enjoy the show, and much to everyone’s delight, obliged to say some words about the amazing performance he just witnessed. He enjoyed it very much, said it had a very “BANZAI” feel to it, and was amazed that so many people still love the music from this game after all these years. The fact that all of the 1000+ seats were filled and many people were turned away from the packed house was a clear indicator of how much this game means to us, even 17 years after it was first released.
After tweeting to the Knights Templar thanking them for a fantastic performance, I received this really nice message back!