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
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
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.
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
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.
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.
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
"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
Kaas said she believed her appeal to her Asian
audiences could be contributed to more than her sexy image.
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
"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,
"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."