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Concert Review: Masterful

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Concert Review: Masterful

“In the land of Hyrule, there echoes a legend. A legend held dearly by the Royal Family that tells of a boy. A boy, who after battling evil and saving Hyrule, crept away from the land that made him a legend…”

Almost 30 years later, stories of the boy have reached  far away lands, including Indianapolis, IN, where the sights and sounds echo all throughout the temple-like Old National Centre.

As part of its North American tour, The Legend of Zelda: Symphony of the Goddesses made their way to the Circle City Friday, October 2.

I love the Legend of Zelda. It’s no secret. It’s my favorite video game franchise, and about 98% of the reason why I bought the Wii U. As much as I like the game, there’s just something about the music. It’s catchy, it sets the mood, and it really takes you back to the days of sitting in front of your television set and trying to save Hyrule. Needless to say, this was a show I couldn’t pass up. Two of my loves together in one place: Zelda and the symphony.

So let’s get this going. Allons-y:

This show was not so much of a secret to everyone. There are a number of people standing in the lobby waiting to get into the theatre, and not just because of the cool temperatures outside. There are plenty of fans young and old here in the building. Many donning shirts emblazoned with the Triforce. Other more ambitious people even came in costume. There are are few Zeldas and Links scattered throughout the crowd. There’s even a few that made their own Bremen and Keaton masks. It’s dangerous to go alone, but at a show like this, you never have to worry about that.

The orchestra is tuning up while ads for Wind Waker HD and Majora’s Mask 3D are being projected on the screen. Meanwhile, I’m sitting here in the balcony, slightly cramped in this tiny theatre seat, and feeling about as anxious as I was going through the Water Temple the first time.

Soon the lights dim, our conductor takes to the podium, we’re treated to an opening medley of familiar Zelda tunes as well as messages from show producer Jason Michael Paul and Zelda masterminds Koji Kondo, Eiji Aonuma, and the man himself Shigeru Miyamoto, and away we go.

For those who haven’t experienced it, the show consists of four movements (with one intermission in between) performed largely by local musicians (in this case, members of the Indianapolis Symphony Orchestra). The song selection is a proverbial greatest hits of some of the franchise’s most well-known musical selections as orchestral arrangements, from games such as Wind Waker, Twilight Princess, A Link to the Past, Skyward Sword, and more. During the performance, footage from the aforementioned games is projected onto a big screen hovering above the stage, perfectly in sync with the music being performed. For those who got the 25th anniversary CD with copies of Skyward Sword, it’s like that, but with visuals (also produced by Jason Michael Paul).

On the surface, this is a convenient excuse for me to nerd out to my favorite video game. Underneath, it’s so much more than that. It’s a celebration of one of gaming’s most iconic franchises; An engaging and oftentimes mesmerizing journey through the past and present; and more importantly, it’s a whole lot of fun.

When translating music to a stage show, it can be difficult to capture the same kind of emotion, especially when you’re from a tiny room in your house to a theatre full of people. Thankfully, this is not an issue. Each movement is presented very well, from Wind Waker’s cheery melodies and nautical themes to the darker, more majestic Twilight Princess. I’ve heard all of these songs almost half a billion times by this point, and I’m just just as mesmerized when it’s an orchestra and a choir in front of me instead of miles of Hyrule Field (or Termina or a vast ocean…).

If there was one complaint I did have about the show, it had nothing to do with the music. Rather, it was the game footage being shown on the screen.

Oftentimes, I found myself getting distracted by the video and thinking to myself “why didn’t they do this?!” or “use your parry attacks against that Bokoblin!” In short, it was the same trap I run into watching those “let’s play” videos on YouTube. It just made me want to play the games myself.

As this is a show that has been performed since the 25th anniversary in 2011, you can tell they’ve been adding to the show (the additional Majora’s Mask movement, among other things that stuck out). Of course, this isn’t a complaint. I welcome all excuses to dive back into the Zelda universe. Consider this a testament to its longevity, and its desire to stay current and look towards the future as the show continues to evolve.

Of course, the show can’t last forever, even after two encores and several standing ovations. It’s time to leave the land of Hyrule and return to the real world of Indianapolis. The one that’s dark and dreary and also raining outside as I return to my car.

Final verdict:

It’s been almost two weeks since diving into the Master Quest. I’ve had plenty of time to process that evening, and even now, I feel just as I did sitting in that balcony.

Zelda: Symphony of the Goddesses is more than just your average symphony show. It’s a celebration of one of biggest icons in gaming; a journey through almost 30 years that’s as epic as the first time you picked up a sword explored new lands and temples. Whether you’re a doe-eyed fanboy or an experienced music lover, there’s something for everybody at this show.

In short, the show is golden, just like the three goddesses.

The Good:

Between the music and the visuals, the show is as immersive as you would hope. From the first note, it’s easy to lose yourself in it all. The music was well-represented and hit all the right notes (pun sort of intended), and the added visuals really helped bring you further into the experience. Plus, this was a symphony where I didn’t have to wear a suit.

The Bad:

If anything, the visuals lured me into the same trap as those “let’s play” videos on YouTube. I kept wondering why they did one more rather than the more logical option (ok, maybe not more logical. Just not what I would do). It just made me want to play the games, which I guess isn’t so bad. After all, I picked up Skyward Sword again after not having played it for two years.