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Originally published Friday, January 23, 2009 at 12:00 AM

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"Video Games Live" is a feast for the eyes and ears

"Video Games Live," an interactive video-game-themed show, will be at Seattle's Paramount Theatre on Jan. 24.

Seattle Times staff reporter

Information

"Video Games Live": Watch the trailer at www.videogameslive.com

Concert preview

"Video Games Live"

8 p.m. Saturday, Paramount Theatre, 911 Pine St., Seattle; $25-$65 (206-628-0888 or www.ticketmaster.com).

Step aside Fall Out Boy and "Phantom" — video games are taking center stage.

With sold-out shows, a big-budget production and plenty of lasers, video games will take over the Paramount Theatre Saturday.

"It's all the energy and excitement of a rock concert mixed with the power and emotion of the symphony, combined with the cutting-edge visuals, technology, interactivity and fun video games provide," said co-creator and video-game composer Tommy Tallarico.

"Video Games Live" is a national touring production that breathes life to such video games as "Mario," "Zelda" and "Final Fantasy" by playing their soundtracks and displaying their images on a big screen. In each tour stop, local professional musicians play the concert, rehearsing the day before and the day of the show; in Seattle, members of the Seattle Symphony will be performing.

The "Video Games Live" tour — created by video-game composers Tallarico and Jack Wall — has been growing since its inauguration in 2005, when it went to just three states. Now it spans the world — after Saturday's Seattle show, the next concert takes place in Taiwan.

The Paramount event will include a laser show and a costume contest. In addition, the show will debut the latest expansion of the "Halo" series, "Halo 3 ODST." This edition of "Halo," a first-person shooter game, continues the saga of a trooper who saves the world from aliens. The game's composers, along with members of the game's design team, will be at Seattle's show for the world premiere of the popular game.

Additional guests during the post-show meet-and-greet include such video-game cult heroes as artist Mike Krahulik and writer Jerry Holkins of the popular Seattle webcomic "Penny Arcade."

Other video-game-themed concerts focus entirely on the music — such as the Seattle Symphony's "PLAY! A Video Game Symphony!" In contrast, "Video Games Live" has more interactive elements. There is a "Guitar Hero" contest where selected concertgoers can compete to play along with the game and live orchestra. You'll also see a "Space Invaders" contest, in which parents can be pitted against their children in the classic 1978 shooting arcade game.

"Video Games Live" has been through Seattle before, in 2005. Co-creator Tallarico promises that only 35 percent of the show will be the same, with some staples like "Mario."

Cousin to another famous artist — Steven Tyler of Aerosmith — Tallarico got his start at the age of 10. He recorded video-game music on cassette tapes at arcades, and then spliced them together for neighborhood concerts, charging a nickel per show. He later became a game tester and offered to compose games, after noticing that the soundtrack was often the last-minute effort of programmers. Now he's a very prolific video-game composer, having scored 275 games, such as the original "Prince of Persia" and "Earthworm Jim."

And his favorite part of the tour, said Tallarico, is not drawing in the hard-core gamers but convincing the nongamers — the parents, the girlfriends and the grandparents — that there's more to video-game music than "bloops and bleeps."

"They say, 'I get it now. Now I understand why my kids are into video games. Thanks for opening my eyes,' " said Tallarico. "That's the greatest payoff."

Marian Liu: 206-464-3825 or mliu@seattletimes.com

Copyright © 2009 The Seattle Times Company

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