Video Games Live mixes a cultural orchestral experience with comedy and more than a little sense of extravagance.
With an increasing demand for immersive live experiences and the current trend for merging cultural genres we’ve seen an increase in the number of movie screenings accompanied by a full orchestra that provides the incidental music and score. Video Games Live works in much the same way, but as the title suggests these live events are expanding on the gaming experience.
Video game scores are often overlooked as a legitimate form of music, yet if you take a moment to ponder what makes the greatest games fun, addictive and accessible you’ll find that – whilst gameplay is hugely important – the music is equally so. And this artform stays with us to become as memorable as the catchiest of pop songs. Mention Mario Bros or Tetris and the chances are that most people can conjure up a rendition without hesitation.
As with a movie score, the music that accompanies our favourite video games sets the tone of the story and it’s fast becoming big business with some of the world’s most talented, current composers lending their talents to create symphonic masterpieces to enhance our game playing experience.
Making its debut in 2005 Video Games Live has been growing in reputation ever since. The brainchild of Tommy Tallarico the show has taken in an impressive number of dates around the world since it’s inception and looks to continue with shows in the U.S, China and across mainland Europe as well as visiting our shores in England.
Not being an ardent gamer myself I made my way to the event without any disillusion. I knew I wouldn’t know most of the music being played at the performance. I don’t keep up with current game releases and I haven’t bought a new console since the first XBox. I am, however, quite partial to classical music and attended full of intrigue to see how well video games, a live orchestra and choir could be blended to provide an entertaining experience.
Unlike your average classical performance the audience are encouraged by the show’s frontman Tommy Tallarico to behave in a manner more akin to how you might at a rock concert. Whoop and cheer if you recognise something or particularly enjoy something, was the message. Although the room wasn’t filled to anything like capacity for this matinee performance, the crowd obliged -calling out, whistling and whooping throughout.
As the show began Tallarico took centre stage playing electric guitar along with the orchestra and giving a rock concert feel to proceedings, though as the performance progressed the focus turned more towards the conductors and guest musicians with a much greater emphasis on a traditional classical style. The lead conductor for the night was Eimear Noone who would make way midway through proceedings for a guest performance by Austin Wintory who had flown over from California especially to lead a rendition of the score from Assassin’s Creed: Syndicate. Appropriate for this date as the game is set in London.
As expected I didn’t know half – or probably less – of the music being played, but the enthusiasm of those in the theatre around me and the performances by the orchestra and choir with video and lighting made for a truly pleasant experience. My enjoyment was heightened when I was able to recognise a theme. A highlight for me was an operatic rendition of the Tetris theme.
For the £27 we paid for circle seating Video Games Live felt like good value for money. We had a clear view of the stage, screens and felt included in proceedings. The show isn’t just for video game nerds. You could almost take someone from any age group and have them find something positive to enjoy.
As a spectacle it didn’t blow my mind. Musically the performance was without fault and well presented with the aforementioned visuals and lighting – but perhaps the matinee performance on a Sunday afternoon lacked some of the power you might expect to find at a packed evening show. Overall though, well worth checking out for video game, non-video game and music fans alike.
For more information on Video Games Live and for a list of live dates in your country check out videogameslive.com