If you are still buzzing from being at or streaming Kiss's New Year's Eve concert spectacular at Atlantis, The Palm, Dubai, then know that this is only the beginning.
In an exclusive interview with The National, hours after the group rung in 2021 with a greatest-hits set that featured more than $1 million worth of pyrotechnics, show producer and director Daniel E Catullo says 10 more concerts in Dubai are being planned to take place over the next three months, some of which will be open to the public.
The shows, he reveals, will run as part of a new travel and music documentary series set to premiere on a streaming platform later in the year.
Catullo, who has produced concert films for Duran Duran, Black Eyed Peas and the Dave Matthews Band, says the Dubai episodes of the show will form the second series of Landmarks Live in Concert.
Created in 2016, the television programme can be best described as a travel show with the amps turned up to 11. Each episode focuses on a particular location, and blends footage from a concert performed at a landmark, with the headlining artist exploring the host city's heritage and culture.
The Kiss concert will be a stand-alone show, ahead of the new series. Previous episodes have featured RnB singer Alicia Keys performing in New York, Kings of Leon in Memphis and Foo Fighters rocking out at the Acropolis of Athens.
Catullo says the new Landmarks Live – Dubai series will be the first dedicated to one city. All concerts to feature in the programme will take place before Ramadan, which is estimated to begin on Monday, April 12.
A love letter to Dubai
While Catullo can't reveal which artists will be coming to the emirate, he confirms many are household names. However, the concerts will not match Kiss's New Year's Eve event in terms of scale. A regular Landmarks Live in Concert episode is about an hour long, but the Kiss special was an epic online pay-per-view broadcast featuring a one-hour documentary following the band as they travelled through Dubai (now available on YouTube), plus the two-hour live gig.
"That was more stand-alone because what we were really trying to do there is make one big statement for the New Year," Catullo says.
"What we did with the Kiss concert was expensive and we don't really need to go that crazy with each show. The next concerts will be part of our normal series which is a music and travel show. This is the first time we are doing a show focused on one location and I am excited about it. What we are doing is creating a love letter to Dubai."
And the work is already under way.
Catullo says the scouting process for both artists and locations began in September last year.
“We have been everywhere,” he says. “From the Dubai Expo site to the Museum of the Future to the Burj Khalifa, we have seen a lot. I think I can almost be a tour guide for Dubai now.”
Each episode will focus on a particular landmark, explaining its history and significance.
“It will be half documentary footage and half concert performance,” Catullo says. “Throughout the episode, we switch back and forth between these two aspects.”
Much like the Kiss concert, some of these planned shows will be ticketed and feature a limited live audience, to ensure Covid-19 safety measures are adhered to.
"I am sure that more than half of them will feature a crowd because the authorities in Dubai are doing a great job when it comes to health and safety during Covid," he says.
"But, at the same time, there will be some shows that will be just the artist and landmark because it just works better. For example, if we do a show at the Burj Khalifa, there should be an audience there because that is what people here are used to. But there are other places where there won’t be an audience because it just doesn't make sense to have people there."
Doing it for the right reasons
While the ongoing pandemic adds the extra challenge of planning a safe but quality shoot, Catullo says working on the rest of the Dubai series will be a relative breeze in comparison to the complexities and high stakes of the Kiss New Year's Eve show.
More than spreading some much-needed cheer at the tail end of a torrid year, Catullo knew the live music industry was looking to the Kiss concert as a potential way forward to bounce back after months of cancelled tours and shuttered venues.
"The show was personal for all of us. From the band and myself to the whole crew. We knew that everybody was watching and we couldn't fail," he says. "There were days when things got frustrating because of the extra amount of work involved, but now there is this great feeling of release and accomplishment. We are all so happy for creating something so spectacular to finish a tough year on a high note. We feel good about this because we did it all for the right reasons."