Final Fantasy XIV Orchestra Concert 2023 in London Was a Majestic, Emotional Celebration

At the end of October 2023, right on the tail of Final Fantasy XIV‘s awesome London Fan Festival, Square Enix hosted the latest “Eorzean Symphony” orchestra concert dedicated to the game. 

The concert, which took place at the Eventim Apollo Theater in London, was the third Eorzean Symphony I had the pleasure to witness, and the first outside of Japan. 

Inevitably, the concerts have grown with the game, adding music from its expansions after their release. Of course, the latest concert in London included songs all the way into Endwalker. 

Yet, the spirit of the events remained the same: a celebration of our connected adventures in Eorzea and beyond through the music that accompanied them. 

I cried like a baby during the first concert I attended, as it brought back the emotions awakened by Final Fantasy XIV‘s beautifully choral story. How can you be reminded of Heurcefant and Ysayle’s sacrifice and not shed a tear?

The rain did not stop the Warriors of Light from gathering at the Eventim Apollo.

I cried even more during the second concert, as the setlist added music from Shadowbringers and the familiar notes accompanied Emet Selch’s farewell. 

This third concert gave me the coup de grace with the triumphant launch of the Ragnarok and Meteion’s bleak despair and loneliness. Many tears were shed once again, and I promise I wasn’t the only one.

I’ve been playing Final Fantasy XIV since day one of 1.0. I still remember departing UI’dah at a recklessly low level after playing less than a couple of hours, and walking all the way to the Gate of Ishgard (and back then, the roads were still dangerous for a newbie), only to find them barred.

I was part of the Goobbue wall. I stood on the battlefield of Carteneau when Dalamud fell, and then I witnessed Eorzea’s rebirth followed by many more stories, joy, sorrow, relief, at times even pain.

This game has become a part of my life like it has become part of the lives of many Warriors of Light, whether they have the legacy tattoo behind their necks or not.

The Great Gobbue Wall
Are you among those who still remember the Great Goobbue Wall? If you’re wondering, this is yours truly.

It’s our grand adventure, our solace, and at times, our refuge. To put it down simply, our Final Fantasy XIV characters have become fragments of our souls.

Music is such a large part of that experience that witnessing it performed live by an orchestra, accompanied by the familiar images of events that have been etched into our minds, is an incredibly emotional experience. The concert in London was no exception.

The BBC Philharmonic Orchestra did a wonderful job in interpreting the precious music of our memories, and I really need to spend a word or two about the conductor, Alexandra Cravero.

Her delightful physical performance, hanging in the balance between dramatic and humorous, was one of the gems of the show. 

New performers have joined the party since the previous concert I attended, with the energetic and resonating voice of Jason Charles Miller striking deep within our hearts.

Final Fantasy XIV Orchestra Concert - Masayoshi Soken, Alexandra Cravero, and Naoki Yoshida
Conductor Alexandra Cravero poses with composer Masayoshi Soken and director and producer Naoki Yoshida (picture courtesy of Masayoshi Soken).

And how can my mere words do justice to Amanda Achen? Her nickname “Crystal Mommy” is certainly not misplaced, as her incredible voice performing recent songs and old, beloved classics like Dragonsong, embraced the memories inscribed in our souls with almost tangible love.

Of course, we shouldn’t forget Naoki Yoshida, the gracious master of ceremonies who gave us the joy of Final Fantasy XIV.

Without his hard work, this splendid community would not exist, and the Warriors of Light would be spread among many different titles. Some likely wouldn’t be gaming at all, as FFXIV introduced many to gaming to begin with.

Last, but the very opposite of least, I can’t not talk about the very man whom this concert celebrated, composer Masayoshi Soken.

I still remember when he took over the role. Many were convinced that this young and relatively unknown musician wouldn’t be able to match the original music created by the legendary Nobuo Uematsu

And yet, Soken-san rose to the challenge, and for the past decade and more, he has delivered hit after hit without fail, making every expansion, every dungeon, and every story beat a musical masterpiece. 

Final Fantasy XIV Orchestra Concert - View from afar
The venue was packed with Warriors of Light from all over Europe (picture courtesy of Square Enix)

This time, hearing the notes he created carried in triumph by the orchestra and choir touched an additional heartstring.

It was impossible for me to listen without thinking that several of the songs were lovingly crafted in a hospital bed, while Soken was fighting against cancer and refusing to quit, not knowing whether he would live to hear his music in game, or he was composing his legacy. 

Soken isn’t just a wonderfully talented, incredibly versatile, and absolutely genial maestro.

He’s a shining example of resilience, courage, and determination. He’s a  true hero of our times and I look up to his story for inspiration every time I feel down or discouraged.

The Eorzean Symphony concerts are first and foremost a homage to this man and a celebration of his genius and unyielding bravery. This gives them value that goes beyond the music and the connection with the game’s story.

This is ultimately the essence of this series of concerts that finds perfect purchase in the one we just witnessed in London. They’re a beautifully hard-hitting celebration of over a decade of incredibly hard work and of the wonderful community that hard work has generated.

They’re larger than the sum of their parts, and their parts are already exceptional.

Final Fantasy XIV Orchestra Concert - Finale from the Front
Our heroes receive the due acclaim at the end of the concert.

I was perhaps a bit surprised (but not that much) that the community reacted more or less the same way regardless of regional and cultural differences.

Japanese or European, a Warrior of Light is a Warrior of Light, and the joy, warmth, and tears I’ve witnessed in London weren’t any different from the ones I’ve seen in Yokohama and Tokyo.

The only relevant difference is that the concert in London had many more standing ovations. Looks like Western Warriors of Lights prefer to express their appreciation and love in a more vertical position.

We don’t know when and where the next will be, but if it happens in a location convenient for you (or even mildly inconvenient. I promise it’s worth it) and you’re a Warrior of Light, you owe it to yourself to go. It’s an experience that will etch itself in your heart like the best moments of Final Fantasy XIV‘s story.