In July 2012, Akira Yamaoka came to Spain to take part in a beautiful concert that paid homage to animation and video game soundtracks.
The location for the stage couldn’t have been more beautiful: in the middle patio of what used to be a monastery, an open-air place with lovely weather that made the experience delightful was set for the event. A small, round fountain was sitting at the front of the stage, and there were chairs on both sides and the front of the stage for everyone to sit down on and enjoy the night comfortably.
This was definitely not going to be an average concert. As part of the Play Fest schedule, and, since the festival was about music in animation and videogames, this concert was the grand brochure of the event.
Even though the whole concert was would have deserved coverage, this report will only cover the part related to Akira Yamaoka, who was kind enough to allow an interview prior the same day.
– “Special apparition: Batman Beyond: The Return of the Joker”
In the middle of the orchestral concert and much earlier than the time he was supposed to come out, Yamaoka appeared all of sudden to play guitar during the main theme of the animation “Batman Beyond: The Return of the Joker”. He appeared on stage in front of a surprised and excited crowd, wearing a black suit with snake texture and dark red details.
Yamaoka showed off his amazing guitar skills in a short song that was more like a kind of teaser foreshadowing what would be left to enjoy later in the night.This unexpected, sudden appearance made everyone anticipate his turn, which was scheduled for the very end of the night.
Eventually it was finally his turn. At first he was only heard, as the whole orchestra was still fully occupying the stage.
– “The End Long”
His set started out with the song “The End Long”, that began with a deep, slow and mellow melody from the orchestra. Everyone was in silence awaiting for his guitar to begin. His guitar cried out chords of passion, which led to an amazing solo that overshadowed the sound of the orchestra. You could see the immense passion on his face; he truly felt his guitar. This song sounded like a hymn to freedom, with times where the guitar could be heard and others when it didn’t. The orchestre intertwined with the guitar, and they respected each other greatly, joining together to the apotheosis end, which ended in a passionate clapping and cheers from the crowd.
– “Silent Hill theme”
The “Silent Hill theme” was definitely one of the most popular of the games’ songs and it was the intro music for the first game of the series as well as this special occasion. Yamaoka was excited for this because it was the first time he had the chance to play this song live with a real mandolin instead of a pre-recorded one. The sad, kind of creepy melody of the mandolin led to the beginning of the song. This song is meant to make any “Silent Hill” fan shiver from head to toes. It is the most pure essence of the games. The choir in the background, also sang parts and some chants that accompanied the orchestra and made it sound even more epic than it already is. Yamaoka’s guitar, amazing as usual, would blend in with the orchestra as if they were born to be together. This haunting melody sounded a lot much more impressive in this version than what could ever be conveyed via speaker sounds only.
Another intro theme followed- this time it was the amazing intro for “Silent Hill 2”. This song was not creepy or haunting like the previous one, but rather soothing and mellow. The performed version of it proved more loyal to the original one, and Yamaoka was again passionate in this song. His magical fingers seemed to play music from another world. The walls and the floor of the venue would tremble and shake under his powerful guitar sounds. By the middle of the song, it suddenly began to be much darker, with a deeper sound while returning to its high pitched dynamics again. Yamaoka knew how to play with these kinds of feelings. The end of the song was settled with a little guitar solo, which was sweet and enchanting. As usual after every song, a loud clapping came from the excited crowd.
– “Theme of Laura”
This song is another one from “Silent Hill 2”, and Yamaoka’s personal favorite out of all the songs. This one came along refreshing and with an overall happier sounding appeal. The tempo seemed to be a bit slower than the original version, which led it to have more of a rocker feeling. In this song, his guitar had much more presence, and it left the orchestra in the background, just accompanying his guitar as this song was almost entirely a guitar solo.
After this song, the long awaited concert was over. There were standing ovations from everyone in the crowd, as the whole orchestra left their seats as well, and the claps and cheers would last for a long, long time.
It was short, but good. Yamaoka has already set another date for a concert in a future and even if it was not in Spain, I hope that he will come back someday. Knowing he has fans here and that he is greatly welcome, his return is greatly anticipated. All hopes are up for him to come back to delight his audience with more of his amazing guitar play once again and soon.
Text and pictures: Elisa