REVIEW: Video Games Live-Bonus Round @ Glasgow Royal Concert Hall

Video Games Live

There’s one reason and one reason only why Video Games Live is still touring after 14 years. These guys always know how to have fun and put on a really great show.

Tommy Tallarico, the show’s creator and guitarist, is still insanely passionate about music and video games and most importantly giving the fans what they want. The entire setlist was picked by the crowd on their Facebook page and the evening was just as much about video game music as audience participation.

The show is the perfect marriage between interactive visual displays and orchestral music. Tommy Tallarico’s enthusiasm is infectious and he came on stage wielding a bottle of Irn-Bru (which he was later egged on by the crowd to chug; only in Glasgow) and a bag of tablets. It was the little touches that were really appreciated by the crowd.

Video Games Live has brought to the fore the idea that to enjoy classical instruments you need not listen to classical music. Video Game music has become increasingly more theatrical and has been taken much more seriously over the past few years and the show highlighted how far not only Video games have progressed and developed over the years but also how video game music scoring is a serious business these days and deserves just as much attention as a Hollywood film score, if not more.

The setlist was diverse spanning across decades of gaming from SNES classics like Street Fighter II to online gaming behemoth World of Warcraft. Each piece was conducted and played perfectly and set to visual excerpts from the game. It really was a true pleasure for the eyes and ears. Nostalgia also plays a major part in the success of Video Games Live. As you listen and watch the clips displayed you are instantly transported back to a specific time and place in your life. In my case whether it was watching my big brother play Earthworm Jim with unadulterated fascination or playing through Metal Gear Solid for the first time, the whole evening was a very enjoyable trip down memory lane shared with other members of the gaming community. The show is obviously most geared towards gaming fans but I’d like to argue that even if you aren’t a massive gamer it’s a chance to listen to non-classical orchestral music performed by people passionate about what they do.

Highlights of the evening were definitely the Kingdom Hearts, Shadow of the Colossus and the Metal Gear Solid arrangements. But there was definitely something for everyone including a beautiful sing-along rendition of ‘Still Alive’ from Portal. Video Games live aren’t afraid of being creative whilst staying true to the original source material which was highlighted in the segments featuring the extremely talented Jillian Aversa and the choir, the Tetris opera was sung entirely in Russian and they didn’t falter even once. Blizzard’s very own Russell Brower conducted The World of Warcraft pieces and quite a few of the pieces were introduced by the game directors via video clips. It was these little personal touches that really gave the performance an extra edge. Humorous fillers between pieces like ‘The ten worst voice acting moments in gaming history’ and ‘The worst video game titles ever’ caused the entire hall to erupt in simultaneous, shared laughter. The music was fantastically performed by both choir and orchestra and there wasn’t a dull moment in the entire show, even during game pieces I didn’t have any particular knowledge with.

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