Video Games Live Review: Earworm Jim
In recent years, several symphonies have started to play video game music. It’s a sure-fire way to get young people into seats, but it’s difficult to keep them there. Enter Video Games Live, a renowned travelling concert series devoted to playing video game music: from Mario, World of Warcraft, The Legend of Zelda, Skyrim, and countless more. It’s a love letter to gaming, but the best part is how little you must know about video games to enjoy yourself. More on that later.
This was my first Video Games Live concert, and I wasn’t sure what to expect. The line went around the corner of Massey Hall in Toronto, made up of hundreds of fans … and by fans, I mean everyone from complete newcomers to enthusiastic gamers. The performance opened with an orchestra playing a piece from the film TRON: Legacy to a video of retro video games. Show creator and video game composer Tommy Tallarico introduces the show. He’s a skilled guitarist and an even better host, exciting the audience like a rock star. He makes his mission clear: to expose people of all ages to video game music, and to prove that video games are art. There were also surprise guests, including famed composer Russell Brower, and Jason Paige, the original singer of the Pokemon TV show’s theme song.
The orchestra is never at the point of being bombastic and overdone. The softer, quieter segments are just that, and the fanfares and booming bass are suitably explosive. The orchestra is accompanied by lights, sounds and even smoke effects. All are used to great effect: Earthworm Jim ended with a blast of smoke and a signature ‘groovy!’ voice clip at the end. Lights scattered and flashed during a live orchestration of the Overwatch cinematic trailer. Above all, you need no knowledge of gaming to enjoy yourself. The event is immersive enough that it draws you in, the music is beautiful, and the content is family friendly. You are encouraged to take videos and photos of the performance, as you should. This is an event worth sharing with the world. If you can find a performance near you, then game on.