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The Stardew Valley concert is as magical as you might think

The Stardew Valley: Festival of Seasons concert tour is in full swing, and we were lucky enough to attend the first two nights of the UK leg.

Photo taken at the Stardew Valley concert, Stardew Valley: Festival of Seasons, with a green projection over the band

When Eric Barone revealed the Stardew Valley concert tour, known officially as Stardew Valley: Festival of Seasons, late last year, the Pocket Tactics group chat exploded. While we’re not all semi-permanent residents of Pelican Town, around half the team is, so we anxiously got in that digital queue and prayed to our Junimo overlords that we might be able to secure tickets. Spoiler: we did. I picked up a ticket for Birmingham, while PT staff writer Holly scored a seat at the London show the next night.

The show at Town Hall in Birmingham, England, was the first stop on the tour’s trip to the UK. It was as good a place as any for the next part of the concert series to begin, with the prestigious venue perfectly complimenting the London Metropolitan Orchestra’s musical prowess. Unsurprisingly, it was a sell-out, with a long line of fans and cosplayers waiting for a night they wouldn’t forget outside the venue well before the doors swung open. I spotted three Harveys, two Elliots, and an Emily, but I’m sure there were plenty more I didn’t see.

After much anticipation and scrambling for merch, the LMO walked out on the stage, accompanied by conductor and host for the evening Andy Brown. Rather than just going straight into the music, Brown first set the scene. The shape of Festival of Seasons, as you can probably imagine, finds its form in your first four seasons in the valley: Spring, Summer, Fall, and Winter, with a few excursions to familiar haunts like the Stardrop Saloon and the secret woods along the way.

Rather than frequently stopping and starting, the arrangers and Barone decided on seasonal medleys, bringing together the themes of each season in what the booklet – yes, I bought the booklet – refers to as Season Suites. Brown introduced each of these with a little context before the orchestra began to play, going as far as to tell a cheeky little joke about how even in Winter, while work stops for much of Pelican Town, nothing can keep Pierre away from his checkout counter.

Photo taken at the Stardew Valley concert, Stardew Valley: Festival of Seasons, with the orchestra in natural lighting

First on the setlist was the Stardew Valley Overture, that blissful bit of music that welcomes you as you open the game for the first time and every time after. You know, it’s the one you usually hear around ten seconds off before jumping into your save. The strings did most of the heavy lifting here, with the violin perfect for recreating the synth swells of this familiar piece.

Then, it was almost straight into the Season Suite: Spring, with a vivid projection inspired by the colors of the season illuminating the players on stage. Admittedly, I’d gone into the concert hoping for a projection of Stardew moments on a big screen, but it didn’t need it. If anything, the lack of anything more than the colorful projection and the performers made you think back to your own time in the Valley, offering a subjective experience to everyone in the room.

The music of the mines, my favorite place to be in Stardew Valley, also received the medley treatment. As fans of Stardew should be well aware, this is some of the most blissfully ambient music in the game, and the new orchestral arrangement combined with the generous reverb of the Town Hall made for an even more serene listening experience.

Photo taken at the Stardew Valley concert, Stardew Valley: Festival of Seasons, with the Dance of the Moonlight Jellies sheet music in shot

I didn’t mention it earlier, but on walking into the venue, all in attendance received a copy of the sheet music for one of Stardew’s most iconic pieces, Dance of the Moonlight Jellies. This tune acted as the final song before the interval, with the conductor revealing it to be one of the LMO’s favorite songs from the set. It’s understandable why they feel that way, as it’s probably one of the pieces most suited to an orchestral setting. I’d say they did it justice, but that’s something of an understatement. The band perfectly captured this delicate piece’s ethereal nature while bringing the show’s first half to a calming close.

The show’s second half also included the Season Suite: Fall medley, featuring some of the more playful themes from the game like The Smell of Mushroom and Ghost Synth. The Fall medley ended with Raven’s Descent. This piece is distinctly more melodramatic than its Fall counterparts, and the orchestra breathed new life into the wistful arrangement, elevating the original parts with harmonizing strings and gentle horns on a bed of elaborate piano work.

Finally, as it often tends to do, winter arrived along with the Season Suite: Winter. This piece allowed the percussion player to shine, with tracks from the medley such as Nocturne of Ice and Ancient placing the tuned percussion instruments front and center. After the almost boss-fight cacophony of the music from Journey of the Prarie King, this brought the audience back down to the snowy earth, with the gentle melodies reflecting around the venue adding to the ambiance.

Photo taken at the Stardew Valley concert, Stardew Valley: Festival of Seasons, with a blue projection over the orchestra

The last track on the official setlist was In the Deep Woods, one of the more brooding themes from the game. While it was already pretty apparent, this was a final reminder of just how much the dynamic nature of an orchestra suits the themes of Stardew Valley. We in the audience sat in awe, knowing it was the end but taking it in our stride as the strings swelled and the piano tickled the mysterious melodies that have made this track a long-time fan favorite. With that, we thought it was over, but there was one final treat in store.

After the conductor momentarily left the stage only to return seconds later, the concert drew to a close with a resounding encore performance of A Golden Star is Born, a track familiar only to those who know the joy of completing the in-game community center bundles. This was the real showstopper. I had to hold it together as the strings, guitar, and piano delivered those recognizable melodies, with the core theme first heard during the Stardew Valley Overture rising again like the sun in spring and rounding off the evening in the most satisfying manner. Then we clapped, we all stood and clapped as the conductor and orchestra took a final bow before walking off stage.

For more highlights of the second half of the show up to the encore, I’m handing over to Holly for a couple of paragraphs to detail her favorite moments from the following night at London’s Cadogan Hall.

“After the interval, we got a small medley of character-specific songs including Abigail, Haley, and Penny – not my personal choice of spouse or songs, but they were lovely nonetheless. The band then struck up my favorite song on the Stardew soundtrack – Wedding Celebration. You could see the performers having a ton of fun during this and other fast songs, and they played it to perfection.”

“Another absolute highlight was the Journey of the Prarie King soundtrack songs – something you’d never be able to imagine is that fast-paced 16-bit music in a classical sense, but let me tell you it was incredible. My favorite section, though, was the Season Suite: Summer. All the songs from that season are bops and hearing it live was exquisite.”

Photo taken at the Stardew Valley concert, Stardew Valley: Festival of Seasons, with a red projection over the band

All-in-all, as both Holly and I can attest, the Stardew Valley: Festival of Seasons experience was as magical as we thought it might be. I’m not a religious guy, but something felt truly transcendent in Town Hall as just over a thousand of us sat in silence listening to the music that has soundtracked countless hours of game time.

Of course, if you’re a fellow gamer, you know that in-game time is a big part of your life, so this isn’t just the music of Stardew. This is the music of my early adulthood, from being a bleary-eyed university student playing at 2 AM instead of completing coursework to thriving on a co-op farm six years later with my loving partner and an in-game dog named after my own sweet fluffy boy. We change, the seasons change, but the song remains the same.

To be in that hall was to feel like you were part of something. It was a gift courtesy of Eric Barone and his drive to create a score so varied and dynamic that it doesn’t even need the game in front of you to pluck your heartstrings like the London Metropolitan Orchestra’s rendition of Dance of the Moonlight Jellies. That is a gift we’ll continue to treasure.

There you have it, our thoughts on the Stardew Valley: Festival of Seasons concert. For more of me rambling about my favorite game, check out our retrospective Stardew Valley review, or see what’s coming to Switch soon with the arrival of the 1.6 update with our guide on where to find the Stardew Valley bookseller.