Video games in modern society have become a significant part of millions of lives and their great music soundtracks were an important element of the fun and emotional journeys of every single title played, having the melodies imprinted into the minds and hearts of the players, triggering the exciting and nostalgic memories whenever they are heard again. After two long years, Video Games Live (VGL) were finally back in Malaysia again and their entertaining performance on both nights (26 – 27 May) earned well-deserved standing ovations from the fans here who had eagerly waited for their return.
This time, the concert was held at Istana Budaya, Kuala Lumpur, and had Emmanuel Fratianni as the orchestra conductor instead of the VGL co-founder, Jack Will, who orchestrated the last time they came. Fratianni was involved with the audio of the upcoming film The Amazing Spiderman. Tommy Tallarico, the creator of Video Games Live, was of course present, shredding on his electric guitar as he always does on all VGL’s gigs. The popular “Flute Link” Laura Intravia was the lead vocalist and flutist of the show as usual. Metal Gear Solid score composer Norihiko Hibino was the specially invited guest just like the previous time and also, Malaysia’s very own National Symphony Orchestra were, once again, the orchestra of the concert. The choir was made fun by Tallarico a lot for wearing bow ties on the first night. They took ’em off during the intermission on the second show.
The venue was way better than where they had it back in 2010, which was Plenary Hall KLCC, in terms of the acoustics. For those were seated on the highest tier, the view of the top quarter of the visuals that was shown on the centre screen was blocked by the stage ceiling, curtain and light projectors. It was quite frustration when we couldn’t see what the others seated below were laughing or cheering about. But at the end of the day, it was the quality of sound and the music performance that’s most important. Tallarico, on the first night, said on stage that although he appreciated Istana Budaya for letting them use the place but the strict dress code and no photography rules were ridiculous. Which was probably why on the second night, all those rules were ignored. At the beginning of the first show, my cellphone was pointed by laser lights by the staffs even when I was texting but on the second night, the attendees didn’t even need to dress up accordingly and everyone got to take photos and record freely.
At the beginning of each night, Tallarico promised to the audience that it was going to be a new show but it wasn’t completely true. A few things from the show in 2010 were repeated. And it wasn’t just some of the numbers performed, but some of the videos and Tallarico’s jokes as well. Back then, I wasn’t sure if some of the things said and happened on stage were pre-planned and pre-scripted, but now I am. I listed some below;
- “Some people said that the video games are the cause of violence. Someone from the audience here said KILL THOSE PEOPLE!” – this line by Tallarico was repeated so much that even the fans played along on the second night by being that someone from the audience.
- Guitar Hero – the winners of contest before the concert were invited to come up on stage to play the game on hard mode and reach a given target score. Just like in 2010, the participants declined hard mode and asked to be challenged on expert mode instead. The winner of the first night was given a 400, 000 point target while the winner of the second show had to collect only 375, 000 points. The dude on the first night got almost 500, 000 points while the dude on the second show got slightly less than 400, 000. It became obvious that it was all staged to engage the audience and to avoid embarrassment.
- “Everyone, wave your gaming gadgets and cellphones in the air. Wow, check that out! Somebody there is carrying a laptop in the air. What is it? It’s Mac? Can’t play many games on it.” – highly doubt if anyone ever did wave their notebook in the air but Tallarico said the exact same thing on both of the nights and the show in 2010 as well.
Although there were some repeated stuffs, there were a few things that wasn’t shown or performed here before as well. There were new videos like the Top 10 Worst Voice-Acting Dialogues in Video Games Ever, which I totally agree with the top of that list, and the Top 10 Worst Video Game Titles, which most of them I couldn’t see due to the poor view on the main screen as I mentioned. There was also the new Super Mario Bros flute solo by Intravia dressed in her Mario costume. She also dressed up in her famous sexy Link costume and played a brand new piece of Legend of Zelda medley. At least half of the songs played this time weren’t played the last time they came. According to Tallarico, it’s a setlist that we Malaysians chose. I really doubt that because there wasn’t anything from Kingdom Hearts or Final Fantasy VII. Both these titles are generally two of the most popular video game titles in Malaysia and to not have any their soundtracks played will definitely leave huge fans like myself disappointed or less satisfied. When they performed Final Fantasy VIII‘s Liberi Fatali, the opening cutscene wasn’t even shown. The performed was absolutely fantastic but it would’ve been better if it was supported by the visuals. No visual from FFVII was shown too when they performed One-Winged Angel in 2010. There must have been a lot of copyright restrictions from SquareEnix.
Besides the pre-recorded or programmed background music for Intravia and Hibino’s solos and Foo Fighters‘ The Pretender, everything was performed live on stage. The overall performance on both shows were brilliant. Fratianni and the National Symphony Orchestra shown how talented they are by performing consistently on both shows. Intravia’s opera singing vocals is certain to impress the audience every single time. I didn’t notice any mistakes from any of the performers other than Intravia’s
blowing flute-playing, perhaps. The only other inconsistency was Tallarico’s electric guitar volume, which was softer on the second show. In case you’re wondering if both shows were the same, yes. Only the participants of the stage activities and some mentions by Tallarico were different. The visuals for Hibino’s medley solo was missed out on the first show.
Many have asked me if this year’s VGL was better than the one in 2010 but it can’t possibly be compared because it really depends on personal preferences. Personally, I enjoyed the show in 2010 more because its set list had more nostalgia-inducing songs and less unfamiliar music from the newer titles. And also because then, the many supposedly spontaneous happenings on stage weren’t repeats for me yet. I thought that Intravia’s Zelda performance in 2010 was more entertaining than this year’s as well.
Set list (in order):
- Castlevania – medley
- Assassin Creed 2 – cutscene track
- Frogger – music played according to the live gaming on stage
- Shadow of Collosus – medley
- Pokemon – medley
- Metroid – medley
- World of Warcraft – Lament of the Highborne
- Uncharted 2 – (unsure of music title)
- Metal Gear Solid 3 – Snake Eater
- Norihiko Hibino‘s solo – music from Color a Dinosaur, Mario, Sonic & Final Fantasy
- Tetris – opera medley
- (20 minutes intermission)
- Legend of Zelda – 25th anniversary medley
- Mass Effect – (unsure of music title)
- Starcraft 2 – (unsure of music title)
- Final Fantasy VIII – Liberi Fatali
- Laura Intravia‘s solo – Super Mario Bros medley
- Guitar Hero – Foo Fighters‘ The Pretender
- Halo – (unsure of music title)
- Street Fighters 2 – 25th anniversary medley
- Chrono Trigger + Chrono Cross medley
- Portal – Still Alive
Special thanks Nuffnang Glitterati Plus (GPlus) and my girlfriend, Iris, for tickets to the shows.