Updated: Feb 11, 2020
In the back row with Hope Eliza
It’s now Sunday Evening, 26th March 2017 (Mother’s Day in the UK! Love you Mum!), Two days after I saw the Kingdom Hearts Orchestra World Tour in London and one day after it finished in the UK (I believe it’s off to Singapore, China and the USA next). I’ve decided to give a brief overview of the day so if anyone is considering going to this orchestra or just any film/game concerts they’ll get a rough idea of what to expect.
First things first; Get to London. From where I live now this took around 2 hours on the train, Once I arrived at London Waterloo station at around half 4, I met my friend who I was going with and we got on the underground for 2 minutes to Westminster where the concert was being held. It took us a while to find the venue as a lot of roads were closed off (explanation later) and we ended up walking around in circles until finally finding the venue: Central Hall Westminster. We knew it was the one due to the cute posters advertising the orchestra outside (that and google maps…) but this was at 5pm and the show didn’t start until 8pm so my friend and I went to go get food and came back at around half 6. Now inside the building, we had to have our bags checked and to be scanned by security due to a terror attack that had happened in Westminster just 2 days prior. So we did all that, got our tickets checked and headed upstairs to where people were gathered for the show, they also had merchandise for sale but boy was it expensive! £30 for a t-shirt, £35 for a program of the show, £35 for a live CD! They did however have the cutest things which were conductor’s sticks shaped like keyblades… they were £40. However, as I am Kingdom Hearts trash I did get myself a t-shirt. My friend and I waited upstairs for what felt like an hour and a half before they had even started letting people in to find their seats and sit down, it wasn’t all that bad though, I got to see some great Kingdom Hearts cosplayers and eavesdrop on some interesting Kingdom Hearts themed discussions. Let’s fast forward to 8pm as there was a lot of sitting around waiting due to the extra security measures that had to be put in place. Even though the tickets said that the show started at 8pm, it didn’t really start until 8:30pm and wow, I have never heard as many people cheer and clap as loudly and as passionately as I did that night.
The orchestra were all seated, the audience were all seated then the conductor came out and everybody went wild with excitement. They got straight into it opening with Hikari/Simple and Clean Instrumental Version and it was amazing. Filming and photos was prohibited so I don’t have any photos during the show but whilst the orchestra played they had a large screen behind them that played short choreographed clips from Kingdom Hearts so for example whenever there was a build-up or lots of action, the music would fit the clips accordingly. During Hikari, they basically played the Kingdom Hearts Dream Drop Distance opening. This was nice as all the clips were themed eg. During Organisation XIII they obviously played clips of The Organisation and during the hero theme medleys (eg. Sora, Riku, Kairi, Aqua, Terra, Ven, etc.) they played clips of them and so on. I’m not going to talk through every single song that they played but I’ll add a link to a playlist with all the songs in order in it. It was an extra special experience for fans at the concert as they played short audio clips (in Japanese with English subtitles) of who I believe was Namine and Terra speaking to each other (you can find this conversation transcribed here). Apparently, Tetsuya Nomura said that this conversation was "not going to appear in a game, it's a story just for the guests at this concert." So, that was pretty cool.
The absolute icing on the cake though was definitely seeing Yoko Shimomura (musical composer for the ENTIRE Kingdom Hearts series) come out and thank the audience for coming and talking a little about her time composing for the games. She of course had a translator with her as she spoke mostly in Japanese but it was very special none the less as I’d probably never have that kind of encounter with her again. Overall, it truly was a magical experience. Although I spent most the time watching the clips and listening alongside them, the orchestra were so good that it was pretty much the equivalent of watching the original cut scenes however that doesn’t take away from how special the whole experience was. I don’t think I’ve ever been in a situation before where I’ve been surrounded by hundreds of other Kingdom Hearts fans! If you’re debating whether it’s worth going to see an orchestra play songs from your favourite game, just go! It’s definitely worth it, you won’t get the same feeling anywhere else!