For those who have fallen out of playing Pokémon years ago, Pokémon Symphonic Evolutions reignited the childhood joy of playing as Red in the original Pokémon Red and Blue, while fanning the flames of excitement for fans who are awaiting the newest additions: Pokémon Sun and Pokémon Moon. Although the games, and therefore the music, for the new titles will not be released until November 18 of this year, the concert gave fans an explosive, heart-pounding and tear-jerking show which kept the audience engaged all the way through.
Following their work on The Legend of Zelda concerts, creative producers Jeron Moore and Chad Seiter set their sights on Pokémon as their latest video game project to receive a full orchestral upgrade. The series recently added on some extra legs to their tour and is set to perform in Paris during the summer and then return to the United States in the fall.
Similar to previous hybrid concerts which have long been popular in Japan, the show merges a live orchestra with immersive video game visuals. Previous fans that have stopped playing the Pokémon games are left in awe at how much the series has changed. From the monochromatic pixel art to the 3D animations today, the series and its music have come a long way since its inception in 1996.
Before the show begins, silhouettes of recognizable Pokémon appear on the screen and collective voices chant their names. Soon, the orchestra proceeds to take their seats and instruments, eager to begin. Conductor Susie Seiter steps onto the stage, greets the audience and directs the orchestra to begin their first song. As the overture finishes, the lights dim, a hush befalls the audience and a booming voice from the conductor exclaims, “Los Angeles, I choose you!” And thus, the journey to Pallet Town begins.
Familiar faces and familiar scenes guide the audience on an expedition through time and regions by way of changing theme songs. When Team Rocket blasts their way on screen, a subtle electronic bass beat plays in the background, intensifying throughout the song and building a tension that would be released once the player faces off against Giovanni. What seems like uphill trainer battles quickly flashes into victories as the pieces transitions from one to the other.
Then comes a mysterious song titled, “…,” in which the orchestra music grows eerie as the player makes his way through Mt. Silver. Just before the instruments hit the song’s climax, an image of Red and his Pikachu appear and the music’s hold over the audience takes over as they heavily cheer. This song that only is comprised of ellipses in its title manages to overshadow all previous official and fan remixes and arrangements of this song.
After the screen fades out, the show continues to showcase five arrangements for Pokémon X and Y and three arrangements for the other Pokémon games. Similar to the visuals used in The Legend of Zelda: Symphony of the Goddesses, the backdrop compliments the music, supplementing well-choreographed gameplay and cutscenes that allow unfamiliar audiences to easily follow along the stories within Pokémon. Electronic elements bump up the bass and energy, quickly transitioning from the old 8-bit world to a new, more current sound.
To bring the show full circle, the concert closes with fan favorite nostalgia bomb, “Gotta Catch ‘Em All.” Although the crowd attempts to catch up with their recollection of the lyrics, the instrumental harmony outpaces the softening discord of sung lyrics by the end of the song. Because the new Pokémon anime series includes an extended version of the original song, half of the audience struggles to finish the entire song, but that matters little with all the excitement in the air.
In a moment of total shock and surprise, Pokémon series composer Junichi Matsuda appears at the very end of the show, thanking the orchestra and the concert crew for all their hard work. Susie passes the baton to Mr. Matsuda, who zealously conducts the final, touching song of the concert: KISEKI.
Before the show, APA chats with composer Chad Seiter and producer Jeron Moore on putting together the Pokémon Symphonic Evolutions tour. Check out the interview below!
Pokémon Symphonic Evolutions: Interview with Composer Chad Seither and Producer Jeron Moore