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More and more, video games are receiving symphony tours in recent years. Series such as Final Fantasy, The Legend of Zelda, and Pokémon have made an imprint on attendance. People will come to these events when they are offered. One would have thought that long-running franchises like Mario and Sonic would have already had official world tours featuring their famous scores.

It wasn’t until 2021 that Sega decided to do a live digital symphonic concert for Sonic the Hedgehog. After that, an official tour called Sonic Symphony World Tour began making its way across the globe, starting in September 2023 in London, England. Cat with Monocle made a trip out to Cleveland, OH, for the April 2024 performance at Playhouse Square to experience this long-awaited event and see how it stacked up with other video game symphony concerts. To sum it up, it was absolutely a different experience in the best way possible.

Symphonic Zone – Act 1

Sonic Symphony World Tour - Cleveland, OH, April 20th, 2024

Like many other video game symphony events, there was a massive screen placed above the orchestra and the conductor that displayed a colorful collage of game footage based on what is currently playing. Let it be said that whoever edited the video did a superb job. The transitions between Sonic characters (e.g. Tails, Knuckles) and visual effects were fun and entertaining and kept the audience engaged. It was more entertaining compared to the visuals done for The Legend of Zelda: Symphony of the Goddesses.

The event started with a countdown on the big screen. The audience loudly counted along once the timer got to thirty seconds. The fans were ready and energetic for this concert. Also, don’t be surprised if you see popular online figures like Jackbotnik at the show to get the crowd amped even more!

The audience was then greeted by the conductor, who was quite energetic. The concert began with the classic SEGA logo and the score of the original Sonic the Hedgehog game. It went through classic stages like Green Hill Zone, Marble Zone, the Special Stage, and even the final fight against Dr. Robotnik (aka Eggman). After delivering this beautiful piece, the orchestra dove straight into Sonic the Hedgehog 2 and covered the majority of the game’s soundtrack, all wrapped into one score.

This was followed by the Sonic Mania score, which again covered a large amount of music from the game. Also, music from a popular Sonic level, Sky Sanctuary, was performed with footage from multiple Sonic games displayed on the big screen. Fans who have enjoyed the Sonic the Hedgehog franchise since its Sega Genesis days will surely enjoy these tracks.

After that high quality performance ended, the conductor informed the audience that special guests would come out next after intermission.

Symphonic Zone – Act 2

Sonic Symphony World Tour - Cleveland, OH, April 20th, 2024

The second half of the show was a completely different experience compared to the first half. You still had the original orchestra playing, but their role changed to become background players who supported the cast that came out on stage to start the second half of the two-part show.

At the Cleveland show, vocalist Adrienne Cowan, keyboardist Derek Dupuis, drummer Blaize Collard, bassist Louis A. Ochoa, and finally guitarist and producer of the concert Shota Nakama walked on stage. The crowd erupted, highly anticipating what was to come.

The second half was filled with more rocking than symphonic lyric tracks from most of the recent Sonic the Hedgehog games (including Shadow the Hedgehog’s 2005 eponymous game). To name a few, classics like Sonic Adventure’s “Open Your Heart” and “Live & Learn” from Sonic Adventure 2 and “I Am… All of Me” from Shadow the Hedgehog were played. From one track after another, the band was really into their performances and enjoying their time on stage. The aura fed into the crowd as the audience went all in, singing every word in each song. Each band member had their own solo that highlighted their skillset, and it was well deserved. Even the conductor jumped in with the band to perform.

Later in the night, the band asked the crowd to use their cellphones with their flashlights on and wave them while they performed “Reach for the Stars” from Sonic Colors. It’s a very energetic and smooth track that’s a fan favorite. However, the majority of tracks toward the end of the show were lyric-heavy tracks from the latest Sonic the Hedgehog game, Sonic Frontiers. Even if you didn’t know the words, the lyrics displayed on the big screen to get the audience to sing along.

The band played one last song: “Escape From the City …For City Escape” from Sonic Adventure 2. It’s one of the most popular in the franchise. It’s a song that has to be played, similar to the Distant Worlds concert playing “One Winged Angel” from Final Fantasy VII.

Of course, if you came to the event and not as a Sonic the Hedgehog fan, you were going to feel a bit confused and out of place. Still, this is an opportunity to be exposed to some great tunes. The same goes for fans who only played the classic ‘90s titles; the second half will throw you with its rock-and-roll focus. It’s highly recommended to get yourself some knowledge of these lyric tracks before going to a Sonic Symphony event. No matter what the level of fandom, the concert is for all ages and delivers fantastic music across all gaming generations to those who love Sonic the Hedgehog and those yet to know him.

Symphonic Zone – Final Act

Overall, the Sonic Symphony World Tour is a different experience than any other video game symphony tour. If you enjoy Sonic the Hedgehog, especially in recent years, it’s highly recommended to experience it. You’ll continue to hum a few songs days after the concert and not realize it.

As a helpful tip, be sure to bring water after all the singing going on in the show. If you’re looking to grab some merchandise, plan ahead to be in line early, cut out before intermission, or just order on the official shop online as it’s the same items purchased in-person. The line experience was surprisingly long and those attending should expect a long waiting period. Fortunately, Shota Nakama confirmed through X (aka Twitter) of the issue that occurred in Cleveland and reached out to the merchandise team to add more help for future shows. 

Sonic fans showed a lot of passion at this event, and they do help carry the popularity of Sonic the Hedgehog. Young or old, it’s a concert you should experience. Orchestra tickets provided by production company for this article and visuals.

@catwithmonocle #sonicsymphony world tour short experience clips from Cleveland, OH on April 20, 2024. #sonicthehedgehog #sonic #symphony #sonicsymphonyworldtour #eggman #concerts #sega #shadowthehedgehog @MGP Live ♬ original sound – Cat With Monocle

About Seth Hay - Editor-in-chief / Webmaster

When Seth is not designing or developing, he spends time with his family and his occasional dose of anime, sports and video games.

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