On Friday, Tom Black drove up to Pittsburgh from DC. I called him and asked what the plans were for meeting, as we still hadn't discussed that. He said he would pick me up in the morning. I got about 5 hours of sleep that night due to mildly poor planning (and the ever-present “but I'm not tired!” excuse), but at 8:30 on Saturday, we were on the road to Chicago.
The trip was long, but not particularly unpleasant. The weather was quite reasonable, and we stopped frequently. I had had only a bagel for breakfast, and when we stopped for food the diner at the rest stop had so little selection that I only had an order of French fries, so I was very hungry by the end of the trip. I drove about the last 150 miles.
When we actually got into Chicago, it became quite difficult to find anything, so I let Tom take over the driving again. We parked downtown and met up with Megin (who was to be our host), Lee (who was also going to the concert, but who had flown in) and Megin's other guest (whose name I seem to have forgotten). We walked around a bit, looking at the lake and a park, and then we got in the car.
We had arrived significantly earlier than planned, around 15:30 or 16:00, but our time advantage was being eaten up—it took probably an hour to get to the restaurant where we were to have dinner, between an attempt to go to a different restaurant that ended up being closed and trying to find our way around a strange city. We still needed to go back to Megin's place to get our tickets before driving to the concert hall, so I was starting to get concerned, it being the case that things always seem to take longer than they'd ought, especially when a large number of people are involved. They told me it was nothing to worry about, though.
As it turned out, they were right, because the line of cars at the concert waiting to park was so long that the concert didn't actually get started until probably about 20:30—I now think it may have been doors at 20, not concert at 20.
When the concert was about to start, Nobuo Uematsu walked down one of the aisles shaking people's hands (there were three big projector screens in front so everyone could see what was going on). Our seats weren't quite that good, but they were good enough that I could see him with my own eyes. He was only maybe 50 feet away. It was a pretty surreal experience to be so close to the man who composed my favorite song ever.
- Liberi Fatali (FF8)
- Zanarkand (FFX)
- Terra's Theme (FF6)
- Theme of Love (FF4)
- Dear Friends (FF5)
- Vamo' alla Flamenco (FF9)
- Love Grows (FF8)
- intermission -
- Aeris' Theme (FF7)
- Not Alone (FF9)
- Ronfaure (FF11)
- FF1-3 medley (Prelude; FF1 Theme; Matoya's Cave (FF1); Elia, the Maiden of Water (FF3); Chocobo; The Rebel Army (FF2))
- New Melody from Advent Children
- Final Fantasy
- One Winged Angel (FF7) (encore)
Liberi Fatali—very dramatic opening. Zanarkand—not as haunting as the original piano version, but very dramatic in its own way. Terra's Theme—this song always was a march at heart… Theme of Love—competently done, but I can't understand why they insist on making this the identifying song for FF4. Dear Friends / Vamo' alla Flamenco—two songs that make excellent use of guitar, and hence, adapt very well to live performance. Love Grows—about what one would expect from this song, which is not to say it wasn't good.
Aeris' Theme—the first song that inspired me to stand up while clapping; beautiful. Not Alone—a song that was unfortunately so good in the original that I don't think any arranged version can stand up to it, but this one was good anyway. Ronfaure—fairly pretty even if sort of meaningless to me since I haven't played the game. FF1-3 medley—lots of awesome stuff packed in here. Even though I haven't played FF2 or FF3 yet, for some reason some songs (such as The Rebel Army) still get to me. New Melody—again, pretty but fairly meaningless to me at this point.
Final Fantasy—I cried, I stood up the second the song was over, and I clapped so hard my hands hurt. It was very present to me that this was the culmination of something I had wanted for a very long time.
One Winged Angel—competently done and inspiring the right emotion, overshadowed only by the fact that the emotional center of the evening had already passed for me with the previous song.
I foolishly failed to buy a t-shirt (don't know what I was thinking), but at least I got the program, even though it was $20. It was totally worth it, as were the trip and the ticket price. This concert was the most personally important concert to me that I've ever attended.
Afterwards, some of us were tired, but somehow all 6 of us (the more concert attendees, plus Megin and her friend) ended up going to a goth club, despite the fact that I was humorously lacking in appropriate clothes, as was Tom. This was the first time I've ever been clubbing. I did actually enjoy myself, although it probably didn't look like it for the first hour and a half since I was just sitting there, slowly finishing a whiskey sour and then starting a gin and tonic. I liked the music, though, and watching people, and I wasn't feeling unpleasantly lonely at all. Eventually Tom pulled me to my feet, I pulled back, he protested “it doesn't matter!” and in a slightly inebriated state I found myself agreeing with him, and danced for probably half an hour.
The next day we left very early (around 7) and didn't get to Pittsburgh until about 19 due to snow (which we had been mercifully spared the previous day, when it could have led to our missing the concert). I bought food on the way back and ended up throwing a lot of it out. We also each bought stickers from the vending machines at the rest stops that had them, which I'll have to remember as something fun to do on road trips, given that they had always previously seemed like a totally ridiculous way to spend one's money. At last I was dropped off, thanking my co-travellers as I got out of the car.
I will remember this weekend.