Wow, this is way overdue. Jmpava posted about the concert weeks ago.
There were four of us heading there fom work. We decided that in order to (hopefully) dodge traddic we should leave about 4. We decided to do two cars since i wasnt going to be heading back towards long beach afterwards, so jmpava and ceph went up in one car and neonelephant and i went up in my car.
Jmpava was going to try surface streets most of the way, while i decided to go up the 405 and then east on the 101. We made pretty good time for a little bit but then ran into traffic shortly after the point that jmpava had been planning to get off the freeway. The south lanes were still moving smoothly of course, just to spite us. We eventually got up to the 101 and found the 101-S was slow but the 101-N was clear =P
After all that i was figuring the others would have gotten there long before us, but we parked and got out of the parking structure and saw no sign of them. So i gave jmpava a call and he said they'd decided to experiment and run into problems and would be there in a bit.
The concert hall we were going to is part of the Universal Citywalk, so we had a mall like thing to occupy ourselves with. Neonelephant and i wandered about and found an EB and went in there. I was happy to see that they were selling Red Alert 2, though as part of one of those bundle packs of course. I was even happier to find a copy of Galactic Civilizations: "Deluxe Edition," which included both GalCiv and the Altarian Prophecy expansion pack. I already had the original of course, but it was only $30 and i hadn't been able to find a copy of Altarian Prophecy anywhere by itself, so i grabbed it. Strategy First/Stardock are worth it anyways :)
So i went back to my car and dropped that off and then we wandered about some more until jmpava and ceph arrived. It took us awhile to find the right parking garage to meet them, and then awhile longer to find the right exit to that parking garage. I don't think i ever heard the exact story of what delayed them, but they were going to take one alternate route and got stuck in a forever light, then decided to go some other route, and chaos ensued.
In any case we went to the food court, which was up on the second floor, and got some food and then went out to one of the tables on the balcony and people watched while eating. After we finished we headed towards the end of the mall to where the concert hall was. There was a big crowd of people there, not too suprising, and a fair number of them were heading inside.
Not everyone was there yet so the others didn't want to head inside yet. I however was a little worried about the concesion stand lines so after i found that they weren't checking tickets right at the entrance i decided to head in and see if i could get some stuff and get out. I found a concession stand right before the ticket checkpoint, however it turns out they didn't take credit cards there _but_ the stand _inside_ did. So i gave up and went through the checkpoint (beyond which they said you couldn't leave and come back again) and went to the inside concesion stand. Actually there was more than one, there was one outside which took credit cards and at least one more inside which i wasn't sure about. Apparently after the line they had at the Dear Friends concerty they decided to make sure it wouldn't happen again :)
So i got in the quite reasonable line and ended up getting one of everything they had =P Program, 2 CDs, a t-shirt, and a poster. So then i got to stand around and wait for the others to get in, but that was okay cause there were a _lot_ of cute girls around :) There was one standing next to me for awhile, apparently waiting for the other part of the group she was with, who looked really familiar even though i was sure i didn't know her, i think maybe her face looked a little like rahvina's, but i'm not sure. There was another with kitty ears, which i know shouldn't appeal to me, but i can't help it =P
Two or three cute girls were even looking at me while they walked by. Well okay, they were looking at my chest because of my Dear Friends t-shirt. Maybe i'd feel differently if i had to deal with that more of the time, but getting any kind of positive attention at all was a lot nicer than being ignored. Too bad that doesn't work most of the time.
Most of the group finally showed up shortly before the concert was scheduled to start. They decided to head inside but i waited outside some more for 2gouda4u and thegreatgonz who were still on the way, since there were still a ton of people coming in and i doubted they were going to start under those circumstances. Finally right around 8 or a little after they showed up and we went inside, and indeed they were still busy seating people and not ready to start at all. I don't know exactly when they did start, but we spent at least five or ten minutes killing time. The people sitting in front of us happened to have DSs and apparently there were a ton of people using the chatrooms with them, which made me kinda regret that i hadn't brought mine. I haven't actually gotten to use the chat feature with other people yet.
So then they finally started...
So the concert itself. Overall it was pretty cool, however I was a little disapointed with the song selection compared to that of Dear Friends. For starters, there were no songs from FF5. How can you have no songs from FF5 in a concert whose name is based off of "Dear Friends"?? And yes, that means there was _no_ Gilgamesh's Theme!! There were also no songs from FF4 as well, so they skipped two out of my three favorite games.
As anyone who has read jmpava's commentary knows they had a lot of sound problems. During the first song there was a sudden crackling popping noise that happened over the speakers just as they were starting up. This happened again during the begining of the second song, and continued on throughout the entire first half, growing somewhat more frequent towards the end. Luckily that went away during the second half but they had a few other sound issues as well, and occasionaly afterwards you could here the technicians speaking to each other over the speakers, which was both amusing and annoying.
The concert started out with the opening for FF7 and immediatly continued on to Aerith's theme. Tifa is a lot cooler than Aerith, but i have to admit that Aerith _does_ have a pretty theme.
They had the same MC as before, the voice actor for Tidus, and he _still_ refered to the character as "Teedus"!!!! I don't friggin care how they pronounced it in Kingdom Hearts, it's "Tiedus!" As in rhymes with "tide." You know, them being in a watery tropical island world and him being a guy who breathes underwater and plays blitzball. "Tiedus!"
But anyways, after that they did Zanarkand, the same FF10 song as they did last year, followed by a different FF8 song, Don't be Afraid, which was okay, but i'm not a big fan of FF8 so... *shrugs*
They followed this up with Terra's Theme, yay! And "Swing de Chocobo." They showed a video montage during that showing the evolution of chocobo's throughout the series, starting with FF2 of course. People started cheering during the scenes and unfortunatly i didn't realize it was going to turn into a popularity contest until it had already progressed past most of my favorites =P I'm annoyed that they didn't show a chocobo from Final Fantasy Tactics, and annoyed that they did show one from FF11 (just my usual prejudice that FF11 is part of the mainstream series when much worthier games such as FFT are relegated to secondary status) and amused that they didn't show one from Chocobo's Mysterious Dungeon or the FF racing game :)
They wrapped up the first half (if i'm remembering correctly) with the traditional "FINAL FANTASY" medley (i have no idea why they always insit on putting it in full caps.) So then there was the intermission. People went to use the bathroom, and stood around and talked, and all the usual intermission stuff.
They started off the second half with The Black Mages! Woohoo!!!! Who played some two absolutly mediocre songs. Huh??? I mean, they played well enough, but the first song was FF3's The Rocking Grounds which i vaguely recognized, followed by FF8's Maybe I'm a Lion, which i couldn't remember at all based off of that version, though probably people more fond of FF8 would have a better memory of it. It almost seems like they were promoting their second CD (which i still need to get =P) but that seems kind of silly, since it's not like the people there needed to be convinced to get it, and they hadn't ever played anything from the _first_ cd on tour before either. And if they were going to insist on doing stuff from the second CD i would rather have heard Matoya's Cave or Zeromous or Vamo Alla Flamenco.
But anyways, it was cool to get to see the Black Mages in concert, even if not playing my favorite songs. After that they switched to the j-pop stars, with "RIKKI" singing "SUTEKI DA NE" and Emiko Shiratori singing "Melodies of Life." Both were decent although again not my favorites. On the plus side they sand them in the original japanese (well, except for the bits that were originaly in english of course.) I had a vague worry they might try to do a english version for us, which obviously would have bene a mistake for that crowd.
Finally (theoretically) they did "OPERA." ie the songs from the opera scene from FF6 (well, three of the four anyways.) They had three opera singers to do the parts of, er, the girl and the two guys :) *Tries to remember* Draco and Maria and something? Or maybe i'm just making that up. Anyways, the only problem with this section was that they sang the thing in english, which just sounded kind of silly. The original just had those warbly sound effects, which in my opinion worked rather well, because you're not _supposed_ to understand what they're singing in operas! They usually do them in itallian don't they? So having them sung in japanese would have been fine as well. *sigh* I was vaguely wondering if they were going to have someone in an octopus suit jump out in the middle. It would have been great if they had, especially since so many of us were trying to resist laughing (or not even trying) because of the english lyrics.
Then of course there was the encore. At this point i was still hoping it would be Gilgamesh's theme, but no, of course not. They did Sephiroth's theme. Again. It's not that i don't like Sephiroth's theme, i do, but i heard it at least year's concert and was really hoping for something new and cool. (Like you know what =) I'm also amused that last year everyone was _sure_ that the encore would be Sephiroth's theme, because they brought in a full choir for Liberi Fatali and people were saying that there's no way they would have bothered having the choir for just one song. Well they were right, and they brought the choir back out for the encore. But this year the choir _was_ there for just one song, the encore :) They actually had the choir, the symphony and the Black Mages all performing at once, so there was one good song out of the Black Mages. Interestingly though, Sephiroth's theme isn't on _either_ of the Black Mages CDs.
So after that there was lots more clapping and cheering before everyone finally started heading out. Since it was late on a weeknight no one was interested in hanging out more so we all split up and headed back to our respective cars.
The only other note i want to add is that i'm rather disapointed with the CDs i got there. I was suspicious when they were selling the "More Friends" cd before the actual concert, and it turns out that both CDs were constructed by grabbing arranged tracks from previous CDs when possible, and grabbing the songs from the original soundtracks when there weren't any arranged versions.