Video Games Live is one of the most important initiatives related to video games in the world. For several years now, the creator of the initiative – Tommy Tallarico – has been proving that the video games have become an important part of the culture and the video game music deserves to be performed in great concert halls. Every gamer should attend VGL at least once in their life. Moreover, the fact that the concert took place in the new building of the Polish National Radio Symphony Orchestra in Katowice made me even more eager to go there and listen to my favourite soundtracks in wonderful acoustic conditions.

Video Games Live is one of the most important initiatives related to video games in the world.

But there was a fly in the ointment, someone has to say it, and if not me then probably no one will do it. The American scope of the show was severely dampened by defects and mistakes. First of all, some of the acoustics were messed up so much it ruined the reception of music. Video Games Live always takes the form of hybrid concert, which means that part of the music is pre-recorded and some of the instruments (e.g. the electric guitar) have separate sound system. In such situation, it doesn’t matter that the concert hall can easily acoustically take the orchestra and the choir – all the parts have to be provided with a microphone! By those mistakes, Castlevania, which opened the concert, was dominated by Tommy’s guitar, the synthetic hi-hat in Metal Gear Solid consumed the entire orchestra, and the most important part of Skyrim’s Dragonborn – the male choir – was almost completely inaudible.

Someone might accuse me of being tendentious because I sat in a bad spot, but I didn’t. Actually, my spot was just two sits behind the sound engineer. The decisions of the producers are very surprising to me, especially because it is not possible that PNRSO specialists were handling things on their own. Someone from VGL is bound to have helped them coordinate everything, so they are both responsible for the situation. Sadly, there is more; while playing Heroes of Might and Magic the orchestra desynchronized in the middle of the song, ruining the performance.

Every gamer should attend VGL at least once in their life.

Luckily though, the failure list ends here, the rest of the show efficiently made up for the technical problems. Metroid, Syberia, Assassin’s Creed IV: Black Flag and Mass Effect sounded perfectly because most of the songs were played exclusively by the orchestra. Tommy was surprised that Polish fans requested music from Monkey Island via Facebook, which perfectly blended in with Grim Fandango, Phoenix Wright, and Zelda. After the 20-minute break, VGL was reopened by music from Kingdom Hearts, which caused a round of applause, just like music from World of Warcraft did. My favourite was Hell’s March from C&C: Red Alert.

Tommy’s guitar in the track was harnessed, and the entire energy was distributed nicely between the orchestra and the pre-recorded drums. I found it funny that in Chrono Trigger/Chrono Cross Tommy “played” on acoustic guitar, which sounded like an electric guitar… well, show must go on. Music from Final Fantasy VII was played at the end, and the tears welled up in eyes of quite a few people in the audience. Tommy had a great way of interacting with the audience, just as the conductor Emmanuel Fratianni. And finally, visualizations, which perfectly matched the songs, deserve to be praised.

Tommy was surprised that fans requested music from Monkey Island via Facebook, which perfectly blended in with Grim Fandango.

Overall, I can’t say that I liked it. Many of our readers who came to Video Games Live might, of course, disagree and claim that their favourite compositions were played flawlessly, they have right to say so. Unfortunately, I rate the entire show, which could have been prepared and performed a whole lot better. I hope that the next year’s edition will be more polished, seeing that the concert was sold out.

The Video Games Live tour is still a world-scale phenomenon, therefore the huge interest in it, especially among Polish gamers, is not surprising. One need take part in the event at least once to distinguish the quality and the performance of particular pieces of music in other concerts with video game music. For me, the Video Games Live concert, although the performance was flawed, was successful because it proved that despite the price of tickets we still want to take part and have fun in events that are close to our hearts. – Mariusz Borkowski

The VGL concert in Katowice was certainly a very important event. The incredible PNRSO hall, the great atmosphere, and Tallarico as the host made the show memorable for many years. The acoustic shortcomings were compensated with the possibility to hear a piece of video game music history performed by very talented musicians. – Michał Broda

The VGL in Katowice left me more than satisfied. Solid and differentiated tracklist (though I would swap Metroid, WoW, and Crysis for something else) with Lucas Arts games at the forefront. All classics, of course, were good to say the least. To tell the truth, I do not understand some of the decisions concerning the audio setup, but I won’t let it dim the entire show, which was a splendid American style performance providing a lot of high quality fun. – Krzysztof Bińczak

VGL was not an ordinary concert. It was an event for which many of us waited several years and which, I hope, will be repeated in the next year. Great hosting, nice approach to the audience, and the overall cool atmosphere made it one of the most important game music events of this year. The lack of music from The Witcher and poorly sounding male choir were the only let down. I hope next time it will be better. – Marta Śliż

Executive Editor

Konrad Belina-Brzozowski

Lecturer at Warsaw Film School and School of Modern Music. Sound alchemist, electronic musician and sound designer.