music, Video games

Concert Review – Video Games Live

Video Games Live 2008-2009 Tour poster

Video Games Live 2008-2009 Tour Poster (courtesy of

So, I’m doing a break in my usual reaps with a review of a concert I went to today. To be specific, Tommy Tallerico and Jeff Wall’s tribute to video game music – Video Games Live has finally come to Portland, and I’ve finally seen it. So, what did I think?

The Premise

Tommy Tallerico & Jeff Wall lead (in this concert) the Portland Philharmonic and the Pacific Youth Choir in a performance of music from various video games, including the Kingdom Hearts series, the Final Fantasy series, Mario, Legend of Zelda, and other games.

The Good

The selection of music we got at this concert did a very good job of covering the range of video game music, from first generation video games, to very recent stuff like the Halo series. However, the outstanding highlight of the concert was Martin Leung’s piano meledies, for Super Mario Bros, Tetris, and the Final Fantasy series. Leung is, frankly, one of the best piano players I’ve ever listened to, both in terms of video game music and classical music in general, and it’s a crime that I’ve never heard of him until now.

The Bad

I understand that they’re trying to liven things up by having cosplay on stage during various suites, like the guard during the Metal Gear Solid section, and Master Chief during the Halo section. However, it didn’t feel like it meshed well.

The Ugly

Now, this isn’t totally their fault, but the stage setup they were using ultimately lead to those in the cheap seats (like myself) at the Arlene Schnitzer Concert Hall were consistently getting some of the stage lights directly into their eyes. Next time they come to Portland (which will be next year) they might want to adjust the light setup some to account for that.

The Verdict

I recommend seeing this concert. For that matter, I’d recommend that school districts interested in getting kids interested in classical music, or even simply the symphony might consider setting up field trips to see Video Games Live, as this is a concert series that will succeed at one of the primary aims that Walt Disney had for Fantasia – getting kids interested in going to see the symphony, and possibly into classical music – as well as building respect and esteem for video game music to mainstream audiences.