Review: Distant Worlds: more music from FINAL FANTASY (Boston, April 2019)

by Rakka   Tags: review concert

I love Final Fantasy music. And I’ve never played any of the games.

The music has always resonated with me since I was maybe seven or eight, because of my older brother. He played through the first four games while my younger brother and I watched, and he gave us MIDIs of the soundtrack, which were basically the only music we listened to as kids. (Years later, I dug out old notebooks where I had tried to write down notes for what I think was Final Fantasy III’s ending theme.) Fast forward to when I turned 13; my mom gave me an old MP3 player that she had dug out of a closet, and since I had no exposure to pop music, I turned to finding those old childhood soundtracks that still occasionally popped up in my head.

Naturally, that led to me discovering the various concert series. Stuck in Phoenix, then upstate New York, I thought I wouldn’t have a chance to actually attend one in person for a long time. When finally I started my career in NYC, I thought some concert would have to come here…and then the tour was announced, and while Phoenix was on the list, NYC wasn’t. So I bought tickets for the concert in Boston.

The concert stage.
The concert stage.

Now to the concert itself:

Arnie Roth actually came! So did Yoko Shimomura, as well as a Square Enix Japan representative. Arnie really got into the concert, picking up the microphone a lot and asking fans whether they had played the game he was about to conduct the piece for, and having everyone sing along in “One Winged Angel”. (Contrast that to Joe Hisaishi, who didn’t say a word for his entire concert.)

The concert had game footage playing in the background for each song—a mix of footage from the original game, from HD remasters, and I think from some of Square Enix’s animated movies. (Otherwise, I’m not sure where they got so much high-def but not quite modern-looking footage for FF7.) They did apparently show some new footage from the FF7 Remake, but not having kept up with the news, I don’t know quite how new those clips actually were.

As for the music itself: after so much anticipation, it was kind of a letdown. The pieces I recognized were done well; hearing songs like “Zanarkand”, “Liberi Fatali”, “You’re Not Alone”, “Apocalypsis Noctis”, “Somnus”, and “Answers” live were just incredible. Did the horns drag a bit occasionally? Sure, but it was fine. Arnie Roth picked up the violin for “Somnus”, which was a treat. Susan Calloway sang all the vocal pieces, and while I’m still not quite sold on her, I’m glad I got to hear her live. (Personally, she has a great voice for pieces like “Answers”, but I would’ve preferred a softer voice for “Kiss Me Goodbye”.) Unfortunately, most of the focus was on the games where I didn’t really ever care for the music. (Yes, that means FF7.) And 1-6 got almost no recognition, which wasn’t unexpected, but still a letdown. I would have loved to hear Love Grows and/or Theme of Love, but I suppose those are long out of the rotation by now.

Really, my biggest annoyance was with the audience—I can totally understand their enthusiasm, but I really wish they hadn’t clapped and whooped during “Answers”’s dramatic pause at the end. It’s such a small thing, but it sticks out in my mind.

Overall, I’m glad I finally got to see Final Fantasy live…now I can hope to see a concert for Mitsuda’s works sometime, if ever.


  • Prelude (FF series)
  • Liberi Fatali (FF8)
  • Victory Theme (FF series)
  • Somnus (FF15)
  • Apocalypsis Noctis (FF15)
  • Kiss Me Goodbye (FF12)
  • Don’t be Afraid (FF8)
  • Main Theme (FF7)
  • Dragon Song (FF14)
  • Chocobo Medley (FF series)

after intermission:

  • Opening~Bombing Mission (FF7)
  • The Oath (FF8)
  • Cosmo Canyon (FF7)
  • You’re Not Alone! (FF9)
  • Zanarkand (FF10)
  • Answers (FF14)
  • One Winged Angel (FF7) (Encore)