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Dusseldorf’s Dome gets new name, bigger capacity

Dusseldorf’s Dome arena, most recently called the ISS Dome, was renamed PSD Bank Dome yesterday (1 July) under a new naming-rights partnership between the German bank and arena operator D.Live.

In addition its new name, the arena is getting a capacity increase, from 14,300 to 15,151, as well as a range of new improvements, including new LED lighting, a 70m² LED screen at the visitor entrance, revamped VIP boxes, new parking spaces (taking total capacity to 2,300) and a modernised and expanded backstage area.

PSD Bank Dome (pictured), which in is former guises has hosted performances by the likes of Foo Fighters, Pink, Panic at the Disco and Udo Lindenberg, has also installed a new Covid-secure ventilation system with a high rate of fresh-air replacement.

Michael Brill, CEO of D.Live, says: “Modern, innovative and comfortable – the new Dome has all of these attributes. Over the past months all areas of the venue have been redesigned, renovated and modernised so that all of our partners, event organisers, artists and visitors feel completely at home here.

“We have listened carefully to our promoters and customers over the past few years”

“Thanks to this upgrade, the Dome 2.0 can now develop its full potential and be the attractive live entertainment venue that we want for the city of Düsseldorf.”

“We have listened carefully to our promoters and customers over the past years, taken their opinions and criticisms of the Dome on board, and integrated them into our makeover of the venue,” says the venue’s manager of booking and events, Jele Schuh. “Some examples of that include the bigger crew catering area and the expanded backstage areas. We are confident that productions and audiences alike will feel the positive effects of these changes.”

Gregor Eßer, general manager of the Dome, adds: “People will be laughing, dancing and rocking at the Dome. … We are delighted to welcome our partners and our public to the new ambience and the new look. Making live entertainment an experience that you can touch and feel – that’s the new mission of the PSD Bank Dome.”

 


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Fabian Müller to lead D.Live’s D.Production

Dusseldorf’s D.Live has set up an in-house event technology operation, D.Production, under the leadership of experienced venue/production professional and IQ Unsung Hero Fabian Müller.

Müller (pictured) joined D.Live in 2018 and has been technical manager of Mitsubishi Electric Halle (7,500-cap.) and general manager of Castello Düsseldorf (3,300-cap.). Prior to joining D.Live, he spent five years as head of production at the SparkassenPark hockey (and beach-chair concert) venue in Mönchengladbach.

D.Production’s brief will include looking after all production matters for D.Live’s venues, which also include the 54,600-seat Merkur Spiel-Arena and 12,500-capacity ISS Dome, as well as the Alltours Kino open-air cinema.

“With Fabian Müller we have one of the industry’s best experts leading our team”

“With D.Production we are pooling all of our technical know-know so we can take a flexible and fast approach to handling technical matters at any event in Düsseldorf, be it a major sporting event like the Universiade, open-air cinema, or a small conference,” explains Michael Brill, managing director of D.Live.

Daniela Stork, D.Live’s director of booking and ticketing, says: “By centralising, organisers, associations and federations as well as corporate event customers now have a central technical team for their events. Another positive effect is that our know-how is brought to bear at all of our venues based on best practice.”

“With Fabian Müller we have one of the industry’s best experts leading our team, someone who has been around the industry for many years, and is passionate about live entertainment,” adds Brill.

 


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Live to play key role in Covid-19 vaccinations

Venues and festivals across Europe have offered their services as vaccination centres as the Pfizer/BioNTech coronavirus vaccine nears roll-out.

The vaccine is now approved in the UK, with the first vaccinations starting next week, and the EU and US are expected follow suit in the coming weeks. According to its makers, the vaccine is more than 90% effective against Covid-19.

In Germany, Dusseldorf venue company D.Live is establishing a vaccination centre in sports and entertainment venue Merkur Spiel-Arena, the 66,500-capacity stadium which serves as the ground of football team Fortuna Düsseldorf.

The centre, which will serve Dusseldorf, the state capital of North Rhine-Westphalia, will stretch over 8,000m² across two storeys and have the capacity for up to 2,400 immunisations a day, with the potential to expand if necessary.

Patients arriving at the stadium will first visit one of 12 check-in counters, before making their way through a one-way system to a waiting area, and then on to one of the ten boxes which are being converted into vaccination rooms.

Local guidelines dictate that the vaccine be made available gradually to the entire population on a voluntary basis, starting with vulnerable groups, including hospital staff and patients and carers in care homes.

Covid-19 vaccinations could start in the 27 EU nations before the end of December

Authorities in the UK are similarly requisitioning stadia and other event venues, with the 27,000-seat Ashton Gate Stadium in Bristol, the Etihad Stadium campus in Manchester, Epsom Downs Racecourse in Surrey and among the sites identified for mass vaccinations in England.

The Bristol facility reportedly has the capacity to deliver up to 110,000 vaccinations a week to residents of the city and the surrounding areas, starting next week and continuing until April 2021.

In Belgium, meanwhile, newly formed Wallonian festival association FFMWB (Fédération des Festivals de Musique Wallonie-Bruxelles) is offering up its members’ sites and services to help the Belgian government achieve its goal of eight million vaccinations (around 70% of the country) when the vaccine is approved there.

“Our sector has been at a standstill for many months, and our many staff are eager to bring their creativity and dedication to the fight against coronavirus,” says Dour Festival’s Damien Dufrasne, president of the FFMWB.

FFMWB’s 11 members include Les Francofolies de Spa, Les Nuits Botanique and Brussels Summer Festival.

Ursula von der Leyen, president of the European Commission, said last week that said Covid-19 vaccinations could start in the 27 EU nations before the end of December. The EC has agreements with six suppliers that would allow it to purchase more than 1.2 billion doses of the vaccine.

 


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Live Nation Germany mega show rescheduled

Live Nation GSA has been forced to postpone the biggest show Germany has seen since March, in light of new increasing coronavirus infections in the country and “imminent new capacity restrictions”.

Return to Live (which has also been promoted under the banner of Give Live A Chance) was due to take place on 4 September in the all-seated Merkur Spiel Arena, Dusseldorf but will now be rescheduled for late autumn.

Up to 12,000 fans were expected to watch artists including Bryan Adams, Sarah Connor and Rea Garvey.

Earlier this month, authorities in North Rhine-Westphalia raised concerns about the concert after the country saw an increase in coronavirus infections but agreed to monitor the situation and make a final decision by 31 August, at the latest, as to whether it could go ahead.

Now, Live Nation GSA says that despite the event’s conclusive hygiene and protection concept, new reservations of the state government – as well as a rising infection rate and imminent new capacity restrictions – have made it clear that it will be impossible to proceed with the event in September.

“We are still of the opinion that our catalogue of measures offers comprehensive protection”

“The health and safety of our fans, artists and employees is our top priority. Whilst we understand that the situation is constantly evolving, we are still of the opinion that our catalogue of measures offers comprehensive protection,” explains Return to Live organiser Marek Lieberberg. 

Lieberberg expressed his conviction that live music events would take place at full capacity in the not-too-distant future.

“It is not possible to suppress the desire of fans and artists in the long run! The Düsseldorf model is and remains the right concept for a gradual return to normality. This is what the 150,000 suspended employees of this highly diverse and vital industry in Germany, tens of thousands of artists and millions of music lovers are waiting for”. 

All ticket holders will now be reimbursed including advance booking fees.

Germany’s chancellor, Angela Merkel, previously announced in June that major events in the country will be banned until the start of November unless organisers can prove that social distancing measures and hygiene protocol can be met.

Live Nation GSA has mentioned “imminent new capacity restrictions” but the government is yet to announce any new measures.

 


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Unsung Hero: Fabian Müller, Castello

He studied law but readily admits that he found working in the live entertainment sector far more enjoyable, so he dropped the law degree and underwent training as a specialist in event engineering.

“Straight after that I pursued further qualifications to become a master for event engineering,” he tells IQ, while he later added qualifications such as the Professional Certificate in Event Safety & Security Management from the International Training Centre for Crowd & Safety Management (IBIT) to boost his professional credentials.

“I basically began working in the live entertainment sector when I was 14. At the time, apart from going to school, I did casual work as a temporary helper for event [organisers] and wedding DJs. However, I quickly noticed that there was more than just bouncy castles and DJs, and after a short while I began to work as a helper for a local service provider before commencing my studies and training.”

Having completed his training, Müller became self-employed and worked as a technician and operator in the lighting trade before kickstarting his career at one of the world’s biggest events: “My first job as freelancer was as a light technician at the Eurovision Song Contest in Düsseldorf,” he reports.

“I was fascinated by the opportunities at D.Live, a company that operates all event venues of a metropolis is unique in Europe”

His relationship with D.Live started through work at then-parent company Düsseldorf Congress Sport & Event GmbH on behalf of a local event organiser and venue operator, meaning his first contact with the company was as a client.

“I therefore knew Michael Brill, our CEO,” explains Müller. “When Michael went to D.Live, I was fascinated by the opportunities offered there – a company that operates all event venues of a metropolis is unique in Europe.

“They also have a team brought together from all over Germany, with each one of them an expert in their own field. However, what was really special for me was the common interests shared by all colleagues – the love of their profession, the love of live music, and the dynamism, which really impressed me right away.”

A native of Düsseldorf, Müller’s first concert experience was at the Mitsubishi Electric Halle (then called PhilipsHalle), so coming full circle to putting on shows and concerts in the venue is particularly pleasing.

“My personal highlights have been when I went against recommendations and the success proved that I had been right”

“Each of our venues tells a tale of my personal history,” he says. “As a matter of principle, I put 100% of my efforts into working for D.Live. Nevertheless, you will see me every year with one or two bands as production manager at festivals or on medium-sized tours.

“I find it extremely important to collect new experiences, to see what other people are doing and to support colleagues. And if we are really honest about it… you can’t and don’t want to completely give up touring.”

Müller admits that taking on the seemingly insurmountable is his favourite aspect of working in production. “My personal highlights have been when I really put my heart and soul into projects, went against the recommendations of others or even had to face up to people who wanted to prevent something, and at the end of the day, the success proved that I had been right,” he says.

“One of these highlights was undoubtedly the Horst Festival in Mönchengladbach, which – as an outdoor, free festival – was completely organised and staged by volunteers to enable their fellow citizens to enjoy culture.” He also cites ARAG Big Air, a ski and snowboard event, as another highlight, while the recent drive-in shows in Düsseldorf are another project that he is immensely proud of.

“Every task was a challenge with the drive-in cinema…there were no references or tips that we could have fallen back on”

“Every task was a challenge with the drive-in cinema,” he states. “We developed a completely new product and we were the first in the world to stage drive-in concerts. There were no references, experiences or tips that we could have fallen back on.

“We had to consider various issues, such as lines of sight from cars, distances between the vehicles and heights of stages. After all, the windscreen of a passenger car always restricts the field of vision.

“The whole behaviour of fans travelling to the show was new. Who comes? When do they come? We discovered that the first step taken by guests was going to the toilet, since some of them had already spent hours in their cars. But there were also new learnings with regard to the productions.

“Here, occupational safety was once again highlighted from another perspective. Issues such as distancing rules and, in particular, measures to protect crews against infection were constantly relevant. One of the great things about our profession, namely sitting together with the crews and drinking a beer after the show, was suddenly forbidden.”

“The amount of work required has considerably increased, while possible capacities have decreased exorbitantly”

Müller and the D.Live team had to persuade the on-stage talent to participate in public announcement tasks. “We had to urge the artists to motivate the guests to stick to the applicable rules… and not lose sight of corona.” And he reveals that fan interaction took on another dimension during the vehicle-centric shows.

“There are few possibilities for communication and reaction from inside the car. To protect local residents from noise during the cinema, we had to ban honking the horn and develop an app that enables interactive clapping, cheering, rejoicing and laughing, and which can be integrated in the transmission sound.”

Addressing the pandemic situation that led to the necessity for the drive-in shows, Müller notes, “Corona accompanies us everywhere. Unfortunately, that will remain so for a long time and we currently do not expect that the market will be able to settle down by the middle of next year or recover its former strength.

“Nobody regarded themselves as being too good to do something on behalf of the event”

“Every event that we are considering is looked at from the perspective of current findings and regulations. The amount of work required has considerably increased, while possible capacities, which I always refer to as ‘our currency,’ have decreased exorbitantly.

“Despite this burden, my employees perform excellent work. The way my boys and girls put their hearts and souls into implementing the drive-in cinema at lightning speed was incredible. Everyone did everything: nobody regarded themselves as being too good to do something on behalf of the event.”

He adds, “The set-up phase particularly reminded me of ‘the good old days.’ It was all just a super experience. And, as a team, the time once again brought us even closer together.”

 


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Joint approach agreed for Live Nation Germany concert

Live Nation GSA and local authorities in North Rhine-Westphalia have agreed on a joint procedure for the country’s major return to live, Give Live A Chance.

The 4 September concert (originally billed as Return to Live) is scheduled to be the biggest show Germany has seen since March, inviting up to 12,000 fans to watch artists including Bryan Adams, Sarah Connor, Rea Garvey in the all-seated Merkur Spiel Arena.

However, the Ministry of Labor, Health and Social Affairs of the State of North Rhine-Westphalia (NRW) and the City of Düsseldorf raised concerns about the concert after the country saw an increase in coronavirus infections.

After meeting with Marek Lieberberg, CEO of Live Nation GSA, both parties have agreed to continue to monitor the infection process together and make a final decision by 31 August, at the latest, as to whether Give Live A Chance can take place.

“This is a constructive, trend-setting agreement that gives culture a chance and takes into account the specific development of the infection. Artists, fans and organisers can live with that,” says Lieberberg.

Health minister Karl-Josef Laumann says: “Today [13 August] NRW has an incidence of 13.7. Compared with other state capitals, the state capital Düsseldorf ranks second for infections with an incidence of 18.7.”

“This is a constructive, trend-setting agreement that gives culture a chance. Artists, fans and organisers can live with that”

“As long as the incidence and infection rate are at a high level, a music event of this magnitude will not be able to take place. But, in the sense of the constructive discussions of the last few days and in recognition of the conscientious concept for the arena area, no final decision will be made today.”

Experts from the ministry had previously checked the hygiene measures developed by Lieberberg and the event subsidiary of the state capital Düsseldorf, D-Live.

They confirmed that, subject to a few questions, this is a “technically well-thought-out concept” that adequately takes into account the infection protection requirements for the arena area.

Fans attending Give Live A Chance will have to register their contact details when buying their tickets and agree to the special terms and conditions which includes wearing a face mask and adhering to the social distancing set out in the seated arrangement.

Further measures include larger waiting areas outside the stadium, tiered entry and exit time slots, an alcohol ban as well as regular disinfecting and additional hygiene precautions.

Germany’s chancellor, Angela Merkel, previously announced in June that major events in the country will be banned until the start of November unless organisers can prove that social distancing measures and hygiene protocol can be met.

The presale for Give Live A Chance continues for the time being but in the event of cancellation, visitors will be reimbursed the entry fee including the advance booking fee.

 


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Live Nation announces biggest concert in Germany since March

Live Nation has announced the biggest concert Germany has seen since March, marking the return of large-scale events this autumn.

Return to Live will take place in Septemeber at the 54,000-capacity outdoor stadium, Merkur Spiel Arena in Düsseldorf.

Bryan Adams, Sarah Connor, Rea Garvey, The BossHoss, Michael Mittermeier and Joris will play to 12,000 seated fans, who’ll be required to follow a strict health and safety procedure.

“The fans, artists, and crew, as well as the entire music industry, have been eagerly awaiting this moment” says Live Nation Germany CEO Marek Lieberberg. “We are opening the door for the return of live music which now has the opportunity to resume after the unpredicted intermission. We know that fans are enthusiastic to experience live music once again, and we’re excited to be able to bring them that opportunity.”

“The entire music industry, have been eagerly awaiting this moment…We are opening the door for the return of live music which now has the opportunity to resume”

Fans attending Return to Live will have to register their contact details when buying their tickets and agree to the special terms and conditions which includes wearing a face mask and adhering to the social distancing set out in the seated arrangement.

Further measures include larger waiting areas outside the stadium, tiered entry and exit time slots, an alcohol ban as well as regular disinfecting and additional hygiene precautions.

Chancellor of Germany, Angela Merkel, announced in June that major events in the country will be banned until the start of November unless organisers can prove that social distancing measures and hygiene protocol can be met.

Alongside Return to Live, Bayreuth-based promoter Semmel Concerts is planning to invite 5,000 fans to open-air concerts at the Waldbühne amphitheatre in Berlin, in September.

A custom-designed hygiene protocol will be in place at the event, which will also respect all distancing regulations.

 


This article forms part of IQ’s Covid-19 resource centre – a knowledge hub of essential guidance and updating resources for uncertain times.

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D.Live transforms car park into drive-in cinema

German venue operator D.Live has transformed a car park near the shuttered Messe Dusseldorf exhibition centre into a lockdown-friendly drive-in cinema.

With Autokino Düsseldorf (Drive-in Cinema Dusseldorf), D.Live aims to provide Dusseldorfers with “nice experiences in this time of social distancing”, says the company, by showing movies in the P1 car park, which is usually occupied by exhibitors at the Messe.

At the Autokino, which features Europe’s biggest portable screen, tickets are scanned through car windows, while food orders are to delivered to straight to patrons’ vehicles.

:The drive-in cinema is the perfect solution”

The cinema opened on 8 April with a screening of Udo Lindenberg biopic Lindenberg! Mach dein Ding, attended by some 1,000 people in 500 cars. It also hosted Easter services over the Easter weekend.

D.Live managing director Michael Brill says: “With so many restrictions, worries and frustration, we all have a need for variety, distraction and a little entertainment more than ever. The drive-in cinema is the perfect solution to both comply with the necessary rules on the one hand, and to get finally get out [of the house] on the other.”

D.Live – whose venues include Dusseldorf’s 51,500-seat Merkur Spiel-Arena, 12,500-capacity ISS Dome and 7,500-cap. Mitsubishi Electric Halle – is the only non-UK member of Oak View Group’s International Venue Alliance, which it joined in October 2019.

 


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A.S.S. Concerts allies with Dusseldorf’s Mehr-BB Entertainment

Hamburg-based promoter A.S.S. Concerts has opened a new branch office in Dusseldorf, in partnership with local company Mehr-BB Entertainment.

The Dusseldorf office – located at the headquarters of Mehr-BB, which specialises in promoting and producing theatrical shows – expands A.S.S.’s network beyond its headquarters in Hamburg and an existing branch office in Berlin.

According to A.S.S. Concerts, the new joint venture will organise “the best concerts in the Rhine-Ruhr market” by leveraging “the skills and capabilities of Mehr-BB Entertainment […] for marketing its own concerts and shows, as well as partners’.” Mehr operates three venues in the region: Musical Dome (1,640-cap.) in Cologne, Capitol Theater (1,750-cap.) in Dusseldorf and the Starlight Express Theatre (1,650-cap.) in Bochum.

“The Rhineland and Ruhr area is a very important location for concerts and shows in Germany”

Christian Waaga, formerly of SSC’s Rhein-Konzerte, will lead booking for the new office.

A.S.S. CEO Michael Bisping says: “NRW [North Rhine-Westphalia] and especially the Rhineland and Ruhr area is a very important location for concerts and shows in Germany, so it was only logical that after our first successful shows in Dusseldorf we would look to find a local partner.”

The company’s managing director, Dirk Gehrmann, who becomes Dusseldorf office manager, adds: “I am particularly pleased that we have found – in addition to the existing know-how of colleagues from Hamburg and Dusseldorf – an experienced staff member in the form of Christian Waaga, who is very familiar with the production of concerts and comedy events in the region.”

 


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Rock in Rio Germany to bring the carnival to Dusseldorf?

German event management company Production Office has applied to stage the first Rock in Rio Germany next year, according to local media.

Production Office has written to the city’s lord mayor, Thomas Geisel, to ask permission to hold a Rock in Rio ‘mega-event’ in the new D.LIVE Open Air Park in August 2019, according to the Westfälische RundschauRock in Rio was acquired by Live Nation – which has also produced domestic German editions of several of its other festival franchises, including Lollapalooza and Wireless – in May.

However, Production Office/Live Nation are likely to face stiff opposition from Dusseldorf city councillors, who recently succeeded in forcing the relocation of a planned open-air show by Ed Sheeran in the city over environmental concerns.

To the “amazement” and “boundless disappointment” of promoter FKP Scorpio, city officials from across the political spectrum, from conservative Christian Democrats to left-leaning Green and the Left party members, declared the concert at D.LIVE – which would have necessitated the chopping down of 104 trees – off limits, causing FKP to relocate to the Veltins Arena stadium in Gelsenkirchen.

Even if the new festival were to be greenlit, Michael Brill, the CEO of D.LIVE, is doubtful whether organisers could meet the August 2019 deadline, reports the Rundschau.

The festival is likely to face stiff opposition from Dusseldorf city councillors, who recently forced the relocation of a planned open-air show by Ed Sheeran

“Due to the presumed duration of the [approval] process, it is unlikely that it [the venue] will be available before summer 2020,” he says.

Opponents of the Sheeran show are also digging in their heels, with local Left leader Angelika Kraft-Dlangamandla confirming her party is still against any events that would lead to tree felling. While Production Office has reportedly offered to plant new trees, and assured the mayor all its events are “carbon neutral and sustainable”, “small trees do not” offset the damage caused by uprooting larger ones, according to Kraft-Dlangamandla.

Should it be approved, Rock in Rio Germany would take place in 2019, 2021 and 2023, alternating with Rock in Rio Lisbon, according to the application.

In addition to Rock in Rio Lisbon and its flagship event in Rio de Janeiro and, promoter Rock City formerly operated sister festivals in Spain and Las Vegas.

At press time, Live Nation had not responded to a request for comment.

 


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