More than 10,000 screaming fans came out to see U.S. pop star Demi Lovato’s free performance on Phnom Penh’s Koh Pich island last night, the biggest concert in the country since American hip-hop star Pitbull played at Olympic Stadium in 2010.
The 22-year-old singer, who has sold millions of records and was a judge on the U.S. version of The X-Factor, stepped onto the stage at about 8:30 p.m. to hysteria from legions of “Lovatics” before playing a set including “Let It Go,” the theme song from the 2013 animated film “Frozen.”
The enthusiasm of some of the young attendees was combined with disbelief that Ms. Lovato was playing in Phnom Penh, a city largely overlooked by major music acts.
“I’m very surprised, how did she end up here?” said 22-year-old student Sok Kimsor as thousands flooded into the venue, which was plastered with advertisements for Smart, the mobile phone operator that sponsored the concert.
Yu Pink, 16, spoke of her joy at capturing a glimpse of the former Disney Channel star.
“I came here to see my idol, it’s such a big show,” she said. “I like her voice because it has great range. She is popular in the U.S. and Europe too.”
Earlier in the day, during a press conference at the Sofitel Phnom Penh Phokeethra, Ms. Lovato said playing in the country was “a dream come true.”
“I’ve only actually been here for a few hours now, so I’m looking forward to seeing things as the day goes on, and I’m just really excited to be here. I never thought in a million years that I’d be playing concerts in Cambodia,” she said.
“I hope that everyone that comes tonight is going to have an amazing time, I understand that it has been a very long time since someone has performed a concert here in Cambodia, so it’s an honor to be the first in many years.”
Pitbull’s concert five years ago was sponsored by the now defunct mobile operator Beeline and drew a crowd similar in size to Tuesday’s show.
Opening for Ms. Lovato was Cambodian-American singer Laura Mam, who performed a half-hour set on the stage erected in front of the Koh Pich theater, with a sea of fans waving green inflatable batons.
At Ms. Lovato’s press event earlier in the day, winners of a competition to meet the pop star were given a chance to take photos and chat with her.
“It was very exciting because she complimented me on my shirt, which has flocks of birds just like her tattoos,” said 23-year-old Tola Lao, who was among the winners.
“I believe that her tour of Cambodia will [open] the gate up for other artists to see that they have a big fan base here in Cambodia,” he said.
© 2015, George Wright. All rights reserved.