Noriyuki Iwadare – A Live Performance at Japan Expo USA
Japan Expo, a festival showcasing Japanese culture that annually takes place in Paris, France, recently made its debut in the United States. Known as Japan Expo USA, it was held at the Santa Clara Convention in Santa Clara, California from August 23rd to the 25th. Among the many international guests who made the trip oversea, renown video game composer Noriyuki Iwadare made quite an impression – particularly in terms of his concert.
Comprising from video game series such as Ace Attorney, Langrisser, Grandia, and Lunar, the crowd was definitely immersed in a variety of musical themes – whether it be adventurous, tragic, uplifting, etc. Take, for example, the "Objection Theme". Despite being someone who has never played an Ace Attorney video game, the song had me rocking to its stirring beat, not only hyping me up in the process but also encouraging me to buy into the musical journey that I was to embark on with Noriyuki. This ability to express and dictate a mood, whatever it may be, is a characteristic that I truly admire about his work.
As a component of the concert, it must be duly noted that leading up to the convention, Noriyuki gave attendees the opportunity to select the music to be played at his event. As a result, a poll was set up on Japan Expo USA's facebook such that a number of musical titles were made available for fans to vote for. Noriyuki's appreciation towards his American fans shined in such a regard, reflecting a desire to be in tune with them. I, for one, appreciated the effort. When Noriyuki struck the introductory notes to "Farewell to Sue", a song I casted my vote for, my heart could not had help but wrench.
But perhaps the highlight of the concert, at least personally, had to be the segment where entries from the Lunar series were performed. Lunar Silver Star Story was my first video game for the Sony PlayStation and remains today as one of my all-time favorite titles. To hear selections from the series, it goes without saying that they had an immense, nostalgic impact. I was sincerely moved by the performances of “Wings” and “Battle of Light and Shadow” from Lunar Silver Star Harmony and “Rondo of Light” from Lunar 2: Eternal Blue Complete. A great deal of my love for video game, and, quite frankly, my identity is defined by these tunes and will continue to resonate in such fashion thanks to Noriyuki Iwadare.
In addition to Noriyuki and his band, the concert also featured a few special guests. At one point, character designer of the Ace Attorney series Tatsuro Iwamoto came on stage and drew a sketch while a performance was being given. And towards the latter half of the concert, Yuka Hosio, a vocalist, accompanied the band, assisting with musical presentations from the Lunar and Grandia series.
As a final number, which resulted from a chant of "encore" from the audience, Noriyuki, alongside Yuka and his band, performed "Theme to Grandia”. Fans, including myself, crowded the stage for the finale. As I stood there, several feet away from a man I have idolized for over a decade, thoughts of gratitude and acknowledgement overcame me. There was no other place I would have wanted to be.
Without a doubt, Japan Expo USA, as a whole, is one of the grandest experiences that I have ever been fortunate enough to be a part of. To ensure that I did not miss a beat, I found myself constantly checking the programming schedule. Very few conventions get me to do this. Yet, if there was one individual who had me on my heels, it would have to be Noriyuki Iwadare. His performance exceeded expectations, and I await the day he returns to America for another inspiring showcase – or better yet, the day we cross path once more but in Japan. Here’s to that.