With the huge stage, gigantic speakers, full-blast lighting and a crowd of 30,000, Smart Axiata’s Mega Concert on Friday may have just been the biggest and most extravagant concert Phnom Penh ever had. And we’re not, in any way, going to argue with that; it was Charlie Puth, c’mon.
But before the American popstar started blessing his fans’ ears and eyes with his superb vocals and stunning looks, a number of Cambodian original artists were already giving the audience ultimate entertainment. Laura Mam, Khmeng Khmer, Adda and Small World Small Band gave their all-out performances in front of thousands of Cambodian music lovers who were eagerly waiting for Charlie to emerge on stage.
And when he finally did, a blissful chaos – screams and jumps here and there – shook the Koh Pich grounds.
“Maybe I’ma get a little anxious,” Charlie, in an all-black ensemble, sang as he held the mic. He stopped and raised his arm, sending his ‘Puthinators’ into frenzy. When he continued his ‘The Way I Am’ song, a close-up shot of his face flashed on the five huge LEDs at the side. It was, for the lack of better adjective, cathartic.
Charlie then performed one song after another – Slow It Down, How Long, LA Girls, Marvin Gaye, Patient, Change, We Don’t Talk Anymore – stopping on some parts to showcase his knack on keyboards. He even gave his keyboard rendition of Frank Sinatra’s Can’t Help Falling In Love With You.
“This is history. This is the most number of people attending my concert on this specific tour,” Charlie told the ecstatic crowd, who waved their green glow sticks non-stop. “And you’re holding green sticks there; green’s my favourite colour.”
“It’s crazy I always see you, guys, on Instagram. You guys love selfies a lot. And I feel like this is Instagram Live now. Only that I’m not seeing you virtually. I’m here.”
And as if everyone wasn’t too hyped up yet, Charlie Puth took his black shirt off and sang out a more upbeat – and a lot sexier – version of Done For Me.
He followed it through with Attention, Suffer and Boy before giving in to what his Phnom Penh audience have been dying to hear live for years – One Call Away.
And Charlie surely didn’t regret it. The way the crowd waved their arms as they chanted “I’ll be there to save the day’//Superman got nothing on me//I’m only one call away” was pure magic, especially for an artist who speaks a different language from his audience.
“I got so much love for all of you tonight. I love you, Cambodia,” Charlie’s voice echoed through all 30,000 of his fans in the concert. “You’ve been incredible. You make me so happy,” he said as he repeatedly uttered “thank you”.
He ended the Phnom Penh leg of his Voicenotes Tour with the very song that started the ‘Puthinators’ cult in the Cambodian capital.
“It’s been a long day without you, my friend// And I’ll tell you all about it when I see you again//We’ve come a long way from where we began//Oh, I’ll tell you all about it when I see you again//When I see you again.”
We surely will see you again, Charlie Puth!