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Review: Thicke, smooth and funky
REVIEW BY ELIZABETH KIESZKOWSKI / firstname.lastname@example.org
Robin Thicke put on a smooth, funky show at the Blaisdell Concert Hall on Saturday, Jan. 26, with a tight band and an eye for the ladies.
The seats on the floor were mostly full for the colorful concert, and mostly full of women. This was a show manifestly designed to appeal to females, with plenty of love songs and sexy bangers.
The few men in the audience were mostly stoic, fearful of showing too much enthusiasm when Thicke was swinging his hips — and that happened a lot. But their girlfriends were happy.
A high point was Thicke’s “Love After War,” which fairly represented many of the things he’s good at. The song was lushly emotional, and Thicke sold it, emoting to the mike and singing it out, raising his hands in the air, making eye contact and working through the R&B changes.
Early on, Thicke sang, “Can I make you feel good?” That’s what the audience wanted to hear, and cheers rang through the audience, as they did throughout the show.
At another point, Thicke knelt down to a woman in the audience, and she ran her arms over his shoulders and through his hair.
“I guess there are bad girls in Hawaii,” he said.
His band was tight throughout, and truly was Thicke’s secret weapon. I watched part of the show from backstage, and I could see the band members sharing eye contact and communicating improvised cues, giving the well-rehearsed pop, funk and soul spontaneous appeal. From slow jams to tropical funk, hip-hop with a band member pulling emcee duties to sweet pop songs with Thicke behind a keyboard, musicianship was on display throughout.
Thicke called out his touring drummer of many years, Lawrence Breaux, for losing the beat early on in the show, provoking Breaux to bang out the downbeat with a vengeance for a song or two, but that too was more an indication of the familiarity the band has and proof of the live aspect of the show than any major hitch.
The soul- and jazz-inspired show was slick, without question, but also sexy by design. Thicke took it right to the edge of parody, with his sensitive schtick, upswept hair and loverman gestures, but his fine voice, musicianship and powerful accompaniment — not to mention his good looks, cute grin and (did I mention the swiveling hips?) charisma kept our attention and satisfied the desire for good music and a show.
My date called the show “well-tailored,” and I think that’s an insightful comment. Thicke wore a well-tailored charcoal suit, giving him a bit of the look of a silver bullet. The music and choreographed sexiness kept the ladies yelling and dancing all night long. And Thicke’s voice also proved malleable, taking him from falsetto weepers to hip-hop bravado with confidence.
During the encore, Thicke covered Marvin Gaye’s “Got to Give it Up,” and Al Green’s “Let Stay Together,” and both songs fit his persona just fine. His own songs don’t reach that iconic status, but they delivered a satisfying dose of sensuality.
Elizabeth Kieszkowski is editor of TGIF, the Honolulu Star-Advertiser’s weekly arts and entertainment section. Reach her via email at email@example.com or follow her on Twitter.