Setting the Stage: KISS were smack-dab in the middle of their “End of the Road” farewell tour when COVID-19 effectively shut down the concert industry in mid-March. Instead of sitting out the rest of the year entirely, the band opted to close 2020 with a bang: a livestream of an outdoor performance from the Royal Beach at Atlantis Dubai (with more than 50 cameras in tow, and a 360-degree view of the stage) on New Year’s Eve.
And it was quite a massive undertaking, as evidenced by a near hour-long documentary that preceded the performance. The pre-show special started with footage of the band arriving at the location (without makeup), discussing Dubai and what makes it unique (Paul Stanley plans on returning with his family on vacation), and the extensive safety protocols that had to be followed by everyone involved in putting together the show on site. But probably the boldest statement of all was when the director of the show, Daniel E. Catullo III, declared that this would be the “biggest production in the history of KISS.”
Taking the Stage: The ginormous stage was set up so that instead of it staring out at a large audience — as KISS are accustomed to at their shows – it was a body of water and a large hotel building that Gene Simmons, Paul Stanley, Tommy Thayer, and Eric Singer faced as they performed. Three large screens (one behind the band, another to the left of the stage, and another to the right) showed close-ups of the band, vintage footage, and scenery pertaining to specific songs.
As KISS entered from high above the stage via “pods,” the familiar riff of “Detroit Rock City” served as a fitting opening. Setlist-wise, those hoping to experience some major shake-ups or shockers for this performance were out of luck, as the livestream gig primarily followed the same exact songs as the last “End of the Road” shows had. In other words, no surprise renditions of “Larger Than Life”, “Is That You?”, “The Oath”, etc.
One thing that the close-up shot performance afforded the viewer was to notice things they wouldn’t have otherwise spotted from the 37th row or the upper deck of an arena … such as the fact that there were thunderbolt designs on the sides of Tommy’s boots that went slightly higher than the knee-high portion; Eric wore a T-shirt rather than an expected KISS costume-top; Paul at one point played a new guitar that looked like a cross between a Les Paul and his trusty ol’ Iceman; and that Gene still sported the baddest codpiece in all of rock.
A faint audience cheer was heard between songs, which led one to believe that the crowd must have been comprised of those watching from the balconies of the hotel, and/or perhaps standing across the body of water. The lack of a traditional audience close to the stage made it a bit odd to hear the “Hey-aye-aye-aye-yeah!” call and response in the middle of “I Love It Loud” more silent than usual. And before the start of “Calling Dr. Love,” Paul was clearly heard as he voiced his support of COVID vaccinations.
#KISS2020Goodbye broke the #GuinessWorldRecords for highest flame projection in a music concert and for most flame projections launched simultaneously in a music concert! Watch it at https://t.co/ttra65NC7P@ATLANTIS @LandmarksLive @visitdubai @Dubai_Calendar @emirates @AHDubai pic.twitter.com/6PNf9Ioceo
— KISS (@kiss) December 31, 2020