"It's not fair for Cambodia that CTN locked Michael Learns to Rock in such a
small room. We have waited so long for them to get here!"
Along with fans throughout the Kingdom, 26-year-old In Mean tuned in to the Cambodian
Television Network on October 19 for a groundbreaking live broadcast performance
by Danish pop band Michael Learns to Rock.
Mean, who moonlights as a DJ on Love FM, may be the band's biggest fan and once emailed
the band requesting official photos for use on his fan site.
He never received a reply.
Despite his overwhelming enthusiasm for the group, Mean was left without a ticket
for the studio concert and watched his favorite band perform their hit song "Take
Me To Your Heart" live on his TV at home.
Due to a technical error, the first 30 minutes of the concert were broadcast without
sound. A more casual fan might have changed the channel, but Mean, who is still intent
on developing Cambodia's official Michael Learns to Rock Internet fan site, is no
dilettante. He and his five brothers and sisters belted out the band's hits a cappella-from
Once sound was restored, Mean watched on as lead singer Jashcha Richter pointed his
microphone out into the cheering crowd inside the CTN studio. The 700 live audience
members were the lucky winners of several contests arranged by ANZ and Mobitel, the
concert's sponsors. To Richter's surprise, virtually no one accepted his invitation
to join in on the song's refrain. Baffled, the blonde Dane shook his head dejectedly
and turned the microphone back on himself.
"These people are not true fans," said Mean, chagrined. "A real fan
would know all the lyrics. These people are just lucky."
Across town, nearly 1,000 Michael Learns to Rock fans weathered CTN's early technical
troubles in style at Phnom Penh's Spark Entertainment Centre.
It was after midnight when band members from Michael Learns to Rock climbed up the
stairs to the VIP balcony. Beers in hand, the group waved to fans, posed for photos,
and cheered loudly for two singers on the stage below performing ballads by none
other than Michael Learns to Rock.
Within a half hour the party had settled down, though fans continued to snap photos
and ogle the band. Mikkel Lentz, stood - white shirt unbuttoned - and took a moment
to reflect for the Post on the group's first-ever Cambodia show.
"Tonight was a really big success and I was surprised to see the audience going
wild like that," he said, grinning with the memory of the screaming fans in
the studio at CTN.
"We definitely want to come back next year and do a concert in a bigger venue."
Students Sen Jendi and Khan Danith, both 21, were among those at Spark's post-gig
party and said the band's songs perfectly suited a Cambodian audience.
"So many people here like them because of their style and their lyrics,"
Danith said. "It's as if the songs were composed especially for Asians."
Jendi said that, despite its rocky start, the concert would still help to put Cambodia
on the itinerary of other international pop bands.
"By coming here, Michael Learns to Rock can tell the world that Cambodia is
peaceful and responsible," he said.
It was after 2 am when Michael Learns to Rock made for the hotel. On his way out
the door, Bent Styber, the band's manager, said he didn't remember receiving any
emails from In Mean.
"But if he sends me his material, we may be able to help him out [with the photos],"
he said. "There are many fans in Cambodia, tonight has proved that much."