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A Night In Fantasia 2009 Report
6 October 2009

What is this? I still haven't finished writing up reports of 'all the cool game-and-anime related things from Japan', and here I am writing new reports for events here in Australia. Yes indeed, Eminence FINALLY held another concert in Sydney, after keeping soundtrack enthusiasts parched for nearly TWO YEARS.

The concert was held at the Sydney Entertainment Centre - quite a step up in size and prestige from previous concert venues!

Where you can buy emergency jackets to protect yourself from the FREEZING WIND TUNNELS!
Sydney Entertainment Centre, located conveniently across from Paddy's Markets.

The music was overall quite excellent, though I think maybe some of the arrangements weren't handled as well as previous outings.

The setlist was as follows:

Red Alert 3

Laputa, the Castle in the Sky

My Neighbour Totoro

Princess Mononoke
This was probably the best of the Ghibli medleys, especially as it contained the Forest God music, and the arrangement was spot-on.

There was a bit of confusion with this one, as it was initially announced as God of War, but this and God of War were both written by Chris Velasco. Excellent music, however, and appropriately epic.

God of War II
God of War may have actually been outstripped by Darksiders in the epic scale, but Eminence did a lovely job on this as well.

This one was especially amusing as it turned out that the composer, Junichi Nakatsuru, turned up unannounced! He just bought a ticket and was hiding about six rows back in the audience with everyone else. The MC made a comment that he must really like listening to his own music.

Astro Boy

Melancholy of Haruhi Suzumiya
This choice struck me as a bit odd, as while the piano was very nice, it wasn't one of the most memorable tunes from the anime (and the anime itself isn't lauded for its soundtrack specifically, even if it is very good). Perhaps if they'd chosen one of the tracks from the last episode it would have been more interesting.

Tsubasa Chronicles
They performed the Song of Storm and Fire! Remember my complaints about this one from last time? All of those were erased. Full choir, full orchestra, as epic as the piece deserves.

This was another of the highlights. All of the Ace Combats have epic, sweeping scores, and Eminence did it fine justice.

A medley, featuring the Death Note Theme, Domine Kira, Kyrie, and Law of Sophilism. This I think was far and away the best performance of the night - the arrangement was spot-on and beautifully executed.

While this was a meticulous arrangement, it didn't fit in with the other pieces quite as well, as it was very much atmospheric as opposed to melodic. I also don't think very many people have played AFRIKA. Technically brilliant, but maybe lacking emotion?

Chrono Cross
This was another stand-out, because for the first time, they played RADICAL DREAMERS. Normally when a symphony plays Yasunori Mitsuda's music, they go for the opening theme, 'Scars of Time', which, while excellent, has already had its day in the sun. It was an instrumental adaptation, and considering Radical Dreamers is one of my favourite songs of all time, this was a wonderful surprise.

Dragon Age: Origins
This was apparently a big deal as Dragon Age: Origins is not actually out yet, so this was 'sneak peek', so to speak. Music is nice, but the footage they showed from the game itself was rather underwhelming.

Prince of Persia
I'm not a big Prince of Persia fan, but it was very nicely done.

Shadow of the Colossus
This actually wound up being the biggest disappointment of the night, as the choice of pieces they incorporated into the medley were not the standouts one normally recalls from the game. Also, the solo vocals from Aika were much too powerful, and drowned out the instrumentals. Someone needed to turn her microphone waaaaaay down. Ko Otani appeared to be having a great time on the piano though.

This one was impressive mostly because the vocalist, Chiaki Takahashi, was such a pro. She had a very sweet voice, and worked wonderfully with the orchestra. I'm not very familiar with the source music, but it made me want to listen to more.

Gears of War 2
Unfortunately, Steve Jablonsky pulled out of attending the concert at the last minute, but the Gears of War 2 piece was an excellent choice for ending. I'm not a fan of the game, but the music is wonderful, a nice mix of mood and action.

Encore - Metal Gear Solid
There was concern they weren't going to play any Metal Gear Solid! But at the last moment, the orchestra pulled out the black headbands, and it was Solid Snake time! Metal Gear Solid music is always a treat to listen to, and this last piece was absolutely full of energy, even though you knew the musicians had to have been tired by then. (The concert started at 6, but ran until 10 with only a 20 minute intermission!)

Here's a photo of the stage, sans musicians:

Pretty lights, capable of making anything better.
Photography wasn't really allowed, but that rule was quite poorly enforced.

I had incredible seats! Centre, third row back! That put me directly in front of the guests! Wanted to tell the person behind me to shut up, before I realised it was Inon Zur (Prince of Persia). Thinking back on it, instead of shaking his hand when the performance was over, I should have told him off! He talked through almost all the set pieces that weren't his. Sure, he was saying nice things about them, but it was still annoying. Also, he videoed his own set pieces, because, re: Prince of Persia: "I can't fucking remember it anymore". Way to set an example Mr Zur, breaking the rules like that. I mean, I'm pretty sure Eminence will send you the DVD!

The guests were generally very excellent though. When asked if he was there during Sydney dust storm Chris Velasco's witty rejoinder was 'You mean during Total Recall?' And Go Shiina and Chiaki Takahashi (IDOLM@STER) were dynamic on the stage! Takahashi in particular stood out from the vocalists - you could tell the other two didn't really have as much stage experience, as she had really excellent vocal control and microphone technique, and also played up to the crowd like a pro. She'd even learnt a few lines of English! She soon abandoned them, however, and settled for something along the lines of: "This is my first visit to Australia! Look at my dress!" (Her dress was very nice. Straight out of a fairytale.) Then talked about how worried she was about tripping, and while Hiroaki Yura was translating, mimed it out.

They had autographs after the show, and joy, I managed to get Yasunori Mitsuda to sign the Xenogears OST!

It sort of matches the weird cover of Xenogears.
Funky sig, Yasunori-sensei.

I babbled some complimentary Japanese at him, but my efforts went largely unheard I think because he was distracted by Go Shiina next to him flirting with some pretty girl. (LOL Go Shiina). He did at least give a jolt of pleasant surprise when he recognised what I'd brought him to sign and thanked me for that. Poor guy was only in Australia for 24 hours!

Snagged Ko Otani and Aika for Shadow of the Colossus as well:

They were a crazy hippy pair.
Is that a face in the signature? I think it is!

At the time I kind of wished I'd brough the Eyeshield21 or Tenchi Muyo Manatsu no Eve soundtracks instead, but it worked out well since the vocalist was there too. Ko Otani is such a character. He jingles when he walks, and when he took the stage Hiroaki Yura (concert master and founder) was cheeky and started playing 'Jingle Bells'. Wonder if that will make it onto the CD?

Now hopefully Eminence's next concert is a little sooner. Two years is a long time to keep the fans waiting!