On Sunday, two-fifths of GoPlayThat and a couple of honourary members got up far too early in the morning and ambled off to Madrid's Auditorio Nacional, to take a look at Video Games Live, brainchild of American video game composer Tommy Tallarico. Critically acclaimed all around the world, we wanted to see what all the fuss was about, so we wore our geekiest t-shirts and joined the crowd heading for an altogether different experience. The songs and order are changed up for every event, so until we arrived we had no idea what to expect! However, it's difficult to say no to the prospect of a full orchestra and choir belting out some classic video game hits!
The first thing to note about Video Games Live is the sheer passion that goes into this project. Tommy Tallarico and his conductor Emmanuel Fratianni burst onto the stage and their enthusiasm, humour and joy never flagged for the duration of the concert. Encouraging the audience to whoop, clap and holler at any given moment, it was obvious that this pair love what they do, and this fever soon translated to the audience, who were not shy to show their allegiance to their favourite games.
The show was a long one, around two and a half hours in length, and covered the length and breadth of videogame history. Vintage, brand-new, fan favourites and even a bit of cheeky self promotion from Mr. Tallarico combined to form a dizzying spectacle. Three giant screens, a full light show and a rocking cellist set the stage for a full-on celebration of videogames.
Opening strongly, we had a Castlevania montage, followed quickly by Metal Gear Solid and a crowd-pleasing Sonic the Hedgehog mix. Next up was the theme from Monkey Island - apparently Spain is the country that has most requested this theme, and it went down great with the home crowd.
Next up we met special guests Random Encounter, a five-piece armed with an accordion who specialise in rockier covers of classic game themes. Teasing us with a couple of Zelda numbers, they left us wanting more. Tommy and co. quickly delicered, with the full orchestral version of some of our Zelda faves.
Moving on we were treated to Uncharted II, Shadow of the Colossus and even Earthworm Jim, which elicited a large 'GROOVY' from the crowd. A Mega Man retrospective led into Liberi Fatale from FFVII, and the intermission.
The show was interspersed with moments of humour, including a number of very funny video game mash-ups. Contra vs. Duck Hunt anyone? Maybe a spot of Mortal Kombat vs. Donkey Kong? These little extras kept everything moving along at a fair pace, and soon it was time to restart.
The second half kicked off with a Disney/Kingdom Hearts mash-up, followed by a WoW celebration that had at least one of our team in raptures! Mass Effect made an appearance, but was quickly demolished by the Skyrim theme. If you haven't been Fus Ro Dah'd by a full choir then I'm afraid you haven't been Fus Ro Dah'd at all! The biggest cheer of the day came for Silent Hill II, with one particularly vocal fan professing his heartfelt love for Akira Yamaoka in the loudest way possible.
Our own Rob got his wish in the form of the Halo Trilogy Suite, rendered still more intense by the orchestra and choir, and then we hadoukened along with Street Fighter 2 before Riva Taylor showed off her new Assassin's Creed song. An encore brought us the themes from Chrono Trigger, Chrono Cross and One Winged Angel, and a rousing singalong of the Mario theme.
Both as a spectacle and a celebration of our collective love for video games, Tommy Tallarico and his team hit all the right notes. The time flew by, and I left wishing we had had more. If Video Games Live hits a city near you, we highly recommend you go see it!