‘People have said that I’ve made history for coming here, and this is a night I will never forget,” announced international pop star Demi Lovato in the midst of her Koh Pich concert last night.
A roar of adulation from thousands of Cambodian “Lovatics” went up as their idol took the stage in one of the Kingdom’s largest concerts to date.
With several thousand turning out for the free event, the US performer’s show proved to be a high watermark for the Kingdom’s nascent entertainment industry.
“I’m very excited, because we have never had a foreign artist come here on a world tour before”, said Prak Kimleng, a 17-year-old high school student in the crowd just prior to the show.
Dressed in a glittering low-cut top and black hot pants, Lovato came on after a Khmer rock-influenced set of pop tunes from Cambodian-American artist Laura Mam.
Though Phnom Penh is no Tokyo or Singapore, Lovato nonetheless unleashed the world-class pop performance that has made her famous worldwide, opening with her hit Really Don’t Care and including fan favourites like Let It Go, Skyscraper and Heart Attack.
The concert was the second-to-last stop on Lovato’s world tour. Though not scheduled originally, Smart arranged for the last minute Phnom Penh stopover in the wake of a Facebook campaign from her 23,000-strong Cambodian fanclub.
“It is indeed great to set a new standard for music entertainment and experience in Cambodia,” said Thomas Hundt, chief executive of Smart Axiata, in a statement prior to the show.
“We have not spared any effort to make sure the concert experience in Phnom Penh is on the same exceptional level than the Lovatics enjoyed in New York, Singapore or Sydney.”
On social media, fans expressed their joy at seeing Lovato in the flesh.
“It’s incredible night @ddlovato concert in #PhnomPenh you’re such an inspiring idol & thank for coming in #Cambodia,” tweeted @darachansum.
“Demi concert! Wow what an amazing and exciting experience!” tweeted @arunvateytep.
Lovato, 22, got her start on television as a child actor on the series Barney and Friends. She later appeared in a small part on the Fox drama Prison Break in 2006 before gaining starring roles on Disney channel shows As the Bell Rings and Camp Rock.
Her debut album, Don’t Forget, sold more than 560,000 copies in the US when released in 2008.
The Kingdom has received only a trickle of A-list music acts, most notably English rock band Placebo in 2008, Jamaican-American pop star Sean Kingston in 2009 and US rapper Pitbull in 2010.
Lovato said onstage that she and her band were thrilled to play in a venue so-far off the beaten track for pop tours.
“We’re living our dreams here,” she said.