For those of you who are wondering what VGL is, it’s an orchestra that performs popular video game soundtracks live in concert. This was their first time touring here in Malaysia and it was held in the Plenary Hall of Kuala Lumpur Convention Centre (KLCC) on the 17th of April. There were two shows, one in the afternoon and the other at night. The ticket I won was for the afternoon show.
The Convention Centre was crowded due to PC Fair and WCG. Before the show started, there were game cosplay competition and Guitar Hero competition. The cosplay was won by the fellow who came as Resident Evil 3’s main villain, The Nemesis. I was pleased to know that there are still people who appreciates that game. Would sure love to see a chick cosplay as Jill Valentine of that installment.
I was sitting quite far back on the higher floor and there are no speakers around the side nor the back so the sound came from the front only and therefore the volume was fixed. Oh well. I could see that there were plenty of empty seats. Apparently more people are going to the night show instead. However, the crowd we had was very responsive and sporting. They have three screens at the background. The one in the middle shows the videos; and the scenes and parts of games according to their music. The ones at its sides show the close-up camera shots of the orchestras while they play. The visuals are very important for this show.
There was a little tribute to the late King of Pop before the show official started. They shown a video compilation of all the 8 to 16-bit classic game with 2-D 16-bit animated figures of Michael Jackson (taken from the Moonwalker game) edited in and kicking butt in all those games. Then they played a live action comedy video of Pac-Man as well. They also visually shown some of the popular jokes in the gaming world.
The orchestra consists of Jack Wall, a game music composer and the orchestra conductor; and our very own National Symphony Orchestra and choir. The show was hosted by the creator of VGL, Tommy Tallarico, who is a game music composer himself. He was really cool, funny and entertaining. He did an excellent job in getting the audience involved. He joined the orchestra as the lead electric guitarist in the second set/act. In some certain songs. the orchestra was also joined by Metal Gear Solid music composer, Norihiko Hibino as a saxophonist; and Laura Intravia, a hot chick who sang like an opera singer for the God of War song; and played the flute for the two other songs.The first/act set of the concert kicked off with a medley of all the popular classic video games. Mostly from Atari and Micro Genius and some even older than that. Then they played some music from some well known modern games like God of War, Zelda and Metal Gear Solid. When they were playing Sonic’s music while the screen was showing the evolution of the game, I felt nostalgic and my eyes became teary. Childhood memories relived. How long has it been since I played this, I asked to myself. Then they also had a mini game where one of the audience was picked to go on stage to play Space Invader on the huge middle visual screen. The chosen one was a 40-year old man and instead of moving the spaceship with a joystick, he had to move it with his whole body instead. It was pretty cool but unfortunately he was too noob. He was given two long minutes to get through the first level with six freakin’ lives and yet he couldn’t make it. If he had won, he would’ve gotten himself an awesome prize. There was a 20 minute break before the second act/set began. They performed music from more significantly popular games like Super Mario, Kingdom Hearts, Halo, World of Warcraft, Megaman/Rockman, just to name a few. Then they also had the winner of the Guitar Hero competition to come up on stage for a challenge. The challenge was for him to get 200,000 points on hard mode with the song Jump but the kid asked for expert mode instead. Although he did not manage to win the challenge but they gave him the prize anyway (which made me wonder if it was actually scripted). The “last song” of the concert (before encore) was of course, “One Winged Angel” from Final Fantasy VII. The whole crowd was screaming for it when the host asked, “Let’s see. What should we play next?” The visuals shown images of cosplays instead of the game, which sucked. When the cosplays of Tifa were shown, it was pretty darn distracting.Then there was an encore where they played two more songs from two different games. The first one was the music from Castlevania. I was surprised and absolutely delighted as it was what I wanted hear but I thought they would not play it here. Pity they did not play the main theme of Castlevania: Symphony of the Night though.
The last song was the music from Chrono Trigger and Chrono Cross was performed all together with the two guests, Norihiko Hibino and Laura Intravia; and Jack Wall on acoustic guitars instead of conducting the orchestra.
(from left: Jack Wall, Norihiko Hibino, Tommy Tallarico and Laura Intravia)
Complaints? Let’s see. Firstly, the sound quality and volume perhaps? But I cannot blame them as they were no speakers at the sides nor the back. I understand that the place is indeed for orchestras and what we pay is what we get. I wonder just much of the sound were backing tracks. I suspected that modern drummings were, because there were only two percussionists on stage and no modern drumset. Probably they were able to play it without that kind of drumset. The stage light effects were quite annoying. They shone right into my eyes. The orchestra was a little smaller compared to the orchestras of their shows in other countries. And lastly, why did they only play one song from Final Fantasy when the fan base is huge here? In my opinion, that was really not enough. They should’ve at least played one more from the other installments. Oh yeah, and another thing, when they were playing the music from Kingdom Hearts, why did they show a video compilation of Disney cartoons instead of the game itself?
However, in overall, the show was awesome. Absolutely brilliant. Three thumbs up. This was not just a mere orchestra concert, it was also one huge tribute to video games itself. During the show, Tallarico also told and shown us a little history of video games. He told us who invented video game and its industry (Ralph H. Baer), shown us the first ever video game caught on video and also had a little chat with the man himself on Skype for the show.
18 songs in 2 hours and a half minus 20 minutes break were not enough! I wanted to see and hear more! If they ever come back again, I’d definitely go for it again and I’d make sure I’d get one of the front seats this time.