Video Games Live Comes Back To The Motor City
I am a huge fan of Video Games Live. And in Detroit, I’ve now had the pleasure of working as a volunteer at both concerts, this year and the one in 2008. If you haven’t yet been to see this awesome concert in person, I urge you to go right now to their website and check for the soonest date that they will be in or around your city.
Conceived in 2005 by founders Tommy Tallarico and Jack Wall, they set out on a mission to show to the world that video games are in fact, a form of art. Each concert is unique as they change up the playlist and continually add new content. Many favorites are regularly played such as the Halo Suite, World of Warcraft, and the movie Tron. While Tron was not originally a video game, it was the first movie to use computer graphics, and also was an omage to the potential of video games.
People of all ages show up to the event. They range from as young as five to as old as sixty. While working the Alienware booth I spoke to many older individuals and couples that didn’t actually bring children with them, but wanted to see what the event was all about. And then of course there were the other Gen-X-ers that came along to teach the younger generations of when we were “your age” and how the Magnavox Odyssey, Calecovision, Intellivision, and Atari game systems changed our worlds forever.
During the concert they took quick breaks for a Frogger contest between a middle-aged gentleman and a young child. The young child took the win by quite a few points, the gamer in me says that I could have taken him, but the old man in me tells me that these competitions are best left to the young.
They also stopped in the second segment for a chance for a child to win some Alienware gear by exceeding 250,000 points in Guitar Hero: Aerosmith. They gave the kid the chance to play it at the Hard difficulty, but he instead opted for the Expert mode, blowing the crowd away as he scored a 98% with a 615 note streak on “Sweet Emotion”, a feat that I have yet to master myself.
Jack Wall wasn’t present sadly, albeit understandably as he is most likely working on the score and sound of Mass Effect 3. But his more than apt replacement, Wataru Hokoyama (Resident Evil 5 and the award winning Afrika) was charismatic, enthusiastic, and an all-round great guy. He kept in step with the many ad-lib moments that VGL is known for (at one point handing his baton over to the young gentleman who won the Guitar Hero contest, bowing graciously and walking off the stage as the boy watched with a rather perplexed gaze to the amusement of the crowd), and was very friendly and talkative with fans of the show at the meet and greet afterwards.
Tommy Tallarico, the show’s founder and eccentric producer, announcer, and (when needed) accomplished guitarist was as friendly as ever. Recognizing me instantly at the meet and greet with a boisterous, “Dude!” as I walked up to ask him to sign my copy of the Video Games Live: Level 2 BluRay Disc. It’s always nice to see performers remember a friendly face when you’ve been to the show as many times as I have.
(Shameless Plug) By the way, Video Games Live: Level 2 which features the performance shown on PBS earlier this year is now on sale for $29.93 on BluRay and $19.93 on DVD.
Another popular member absent was Martin Leung, known to the world as the videogame pianist. While I missed his upbeat attitude and friendly banter with the fans, his replacement, the YouTube sensation, Laura “Flute Link” Intravia was a welcome addition. Her two solo acts featuring songs from the popular Zelda and Mario series were fantastic. She also doubled as their female vocal soloist in the World of Warcraft Suite and other songs, including their encore, Still Alive. It was nice to see them finally pick up a regular soloist, as I’ve seen at least one performance where the hired solo singer did not perform to expectations. She fit very well with the rest of the crew and I hope that they keep her onboard for a good while.
Some songs of note that I was glad to hear live finally were the Castlevania theme, as well as the sorely missed Chrono Trigger and Chrono Cross suite. It’s actually my hope that having the new generation hear Squenix’s highly underrated franchise will breathe new life into this one, as I would love to see the series make a come back.
If you’re a game enthusiast, a parent of a gamer, or just a kid at heart, this is definitely a show worth seeing. In my case, again, and again, and again.
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