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Logo of Phnom Penh Post newspaper Phnom Penh Post - French diva's steamy show wows city

French diva's steamy show wows city

C AMBODIAN music followers demonstrated last weekend that despite isolation from

international pop performances they can give as much as they get when they

responded to French blues singer Patricia Kaas' sultry on-stage strutting with

great enthusiasm.

The potent sensuality of her show lapped up by her

audience, who hollered and pushed feverishly to the front of the stage in a

sauna-like crush with every provocative pose and suggestive stretch of the gaunt

performer.

Down in front of the stage where hundreds of adolescent males

got rowdy and expats drooled, Ms Kaas' seductive leaning and teasing was greeted

with cries of "I love you" and "Come on baby, take it off!" and the occassional

"Oui, c'est ca!" in token French .

The waif-like Ms Kaas, hailed as the

new Edith Piaf, delivered just under two hours of blues and jazz-influenced slow

rock numbers in French, with a pouting rendition of "I Wanna Be Loved By You" in

English, to a crowd of ten thousand at Phnom Penh's Olympic Stadium.

The

Marlene Dietrich look-alike made an ethereal entrance when she floated on stage

barefoot in a floor length see-through white dress flanked by clouds of smoke.

As she turned up the tempo of her music Kaas swapped her fragile look for a more

alluring one when she changed into a black lace negligee, a manifestation of her

trademark paradoxical femme-fatale-femme enfant charm.

One of the

rowdiest receptions from the crowd came when Kaas brought on a Khmer

counterpart, Duong Malay, a professional singer at the national radio station,

for a duet performance in French.

The man who brought Kaas to Phnom Penh,

Michel Thureau, Cultural Activities Co-ordinator at the French Cultural Centre,

said he was pleased by the audience's response.

He had been reluctant to

predict their reaction prior to the concert.

"It's difficult to evalute

Khmers' response. They're still under the shock of 20 years of living in a

closed country with nothing from the outside. Their spontaneity was killed by 20

years of communism. When they go to a show they're not used to expressing their

feelings."

In her six-year career the 27-year old singer has earned

herself the title of ambassadress of French song. She found popularity overseas,

particularly in Germany, Japan, the former USSR and Canada, before being

acclaimed at home in France. For three consecutive years she won the French

"Victoire de la Musique" prize for the artist most widely sold overseas, and now

ranks among the highest sold artists on the French market.

Cambodia was

Kaas' fourth Asian stop in her fourteen month "Tour de charme" of15 countries

across three continents. Kaas sent audiences in Japan, Korea and Vietnam wild

before arriving in Cambodia. She heads next to Thailand.

Despite the

smoke and light show, the cupid hovering above the stage with poised arrow,

provocative sauntering and alluring outfits, the singer says she toned down the

"paradise of desire" effect that she created for the rest of her tour for its

Asian leg.

"I left out one song, "Reste sur moi" (Lie on me), and there

are less changes of costume. Also I couldn't bring in all the same production

equipment that I used in Europe because of the cost of transport. And the venue

and the audience determine the show," she said in an exclusive Post interview.

She rejected suggestions that her show could be construed as

disrespectful of Asian culture.

"My show is more sensual than sexual and

it's not so provocative. It's more natural and it's a naturalness which can't

embarrass audiences."

Kaas said she believed her appeal to her Asian

audiences could be contributed to more than her sexy image.

"It's

difficult to generalise because all the audiences are different from Japan to

Korea to Vietnam and Cambodia, but what people like is the complete thing with

my music, my songs, my voice and perhaps because I am a French woman, but I

don't represent French women."

She said her reasons for bringing her show

to Asia, where she is barely known apart from Japan and Korea, were

two-fold.

"I came firstly to see if there's an audience for French music

abroad and secondly because it's a personal pleasure to do concerts overseas and

to get to know new audiences."

Apart from Edith Piaf, Kaas has also borne

comparisons to Marlene Dietrich, Marilyn Monroe, and more recently,

Madonna.

"I'm beginning to get used to being compared with Madonna.

Before it was Edith Piaf then it was Marlene Dietrich I was compared to, then

Marilyn Monroe and now Madonna. It's because I move on stage that I'm compared

to Madonna, but she's not the only female singer who can move on stage. I don't

take it badly, but I would like to be known as myself."

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