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Game Music

NieR Live Piano Event: Performances and Tidbits (Report)

NieR Live Piano Event: Performances and Tidbits (Report)

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Square Enix has been hosting a ton of live USTREAM events lately. First there was the SQ Party concerts celebrating the SQ series and NieR, then the Piano Opera Final Fantasy IV/V/VI interview and preview just a week or two ago.

Earlier this week, to kick off the release of Piano Collections NieR, Square Enix again held an event featuring team members from MoNACA and arranger/performer Kumi Tanioka performing a couple pieces from the album and talking at length about it and the original NieR soundtrack.

Read our brief report after the jump.

Nearly 1,500 users, mostly in Japan (the event started at 1:30 AM PST), hit USTREAM and were quite active in the chat, noting at various points that the performances were bringing tears to their eyes. The venue itself appeared very small, and not a traditional concert venue. Perhaps it was at a university, but I couldn’t find where it was being held.

There were, however, a surprising number of camera angles featured, including shots of various parts of the stage and one looking down the piano keys for some great footage of the performances. It would be great to see this event and some of the others I mentioned on a compilation DVD someday.

Although the feed and hall opened at around 1:30 AM PST, the event actually started at 2:00 AM, so I was waiting around for awhile. We got a brief advertisement on the screen behind the stage that described the various albums in the NieR universe that fans could purchase, including the Piano Collections CD.

It wasn’t too long before a super chipper female announcer started the introduction to the event. She sounded like a little kid, and when she finally came out to the stage dressed in a little dress, it was obvious that she was acting as one of the game’s main characters, Yonah. She hosted the entire, providing introductions, asking many questions of the guests, and taking questions from fans via Twitter.

What guests, you ask? Performers included Keigo Hoashi and Kumi Tanioka, although primary composer and MoNACA head Keiichi Okabe probably had the largest role during the lengthy interview segments. The game’s producer also made a brief appearance on stage. Oh, and this weird dummy on the side of the stage that had a NieR mask that they referred to several times during the event.

The event opened with Hoashi taking to the stage to perform his slow and soulful version of “Song of the Ancients.” It was obvious that Hoashi was really feeling the music as he closed his eyes, hunched over the keys, swaying with the melody. There was an impressive improvised section towards the end that was not featured on the album that lent the piece a jazzy edge with some rapid playing. Game footage was also shown on the screen in the background.

One comment I’d make about the piano is that it sounded strange, almost out of tune. Maybe it was just the stream, as one of our contributing translators, Tim van Ingen, who was also watching, also noticed this.

After some talking with Okabe, Hoashi proceeded to perform “Emil,” which also had a nice breakdown with an improvised section before jumping back into the arrangement proper.

After this, Kumi Tanioka came out on stage sporting a pretty hip hairdo, and after a brief chat, took to the piano to perform the fleeting “Hills of Radiant Wind.” Tanioka was playing incredibly fast, and there were admittedly a few errors, but it was great to see her perform it live. Okabe noted after the performance that the piece was originally intended for a desert area, but everyone decided it was more appropriate for green fields, to which Tanioka said she was very surprised that they’d even consider it for a desert area.

Of note is the fact that NieR was intended to be Keiichi Okabe’s final game project. He was going to call it quits and dedicate his career entirely to anime soundtracks, but given the popularity of the NieR soundtrack, it doesn’t seem like that ended up happening. It’s almost as if it was his Final Fantasy of sorts.

Tanioka then performed the tense “Gods Bound by Rules,” which I was surprised to see on the album much less here at this performance given it never struck me as a key piece of music. This one featured even more rapid playing, and surprisingly no detectable errors. Tanioka admitted afterwards that while this one sounds difficult to perform (and is), that “Hills of Radiant Wind” is actually more difficult.

After this, the group went to fan questions for about 30 minutes or longer. All I got out of Tim before he had to head out was that Okabe’s favorite track from the game is “Song of the Ancients.”

It was then Tanioka on stage to perform her final piece, “Grandma,” opening with a jazzy little intro before moving nto the slow, sorrowful, yet elegant arrangement.

After raffling off some signed NieR stuff, Hoashi wrapped up the evening with “Kainé,” shaking his fingers out before playing. It was another heartfelt performance and was likely enough to convince fans who hadn’t already pre-ordered the album to do so.

It was a nice little event. Given that I watched the feed for nearly two and a half hours, I would have liked to have seen more performances, but there were some interesting tidbits in the conversation. Thanks again to Tim van Ingen for giving us some of the details.

Let us know what you think of events like this. Would you like to see a DVD recording of all these live events, and are you looking forward to getting your copy of Piano Collections NieR?

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