With his first No. 1 single "Blurred Lines" dominating the charts and an upcoming performance at Sunday's star-packed VMAs, Robin Thicke's Friday night benefit concert for the HIV/AIDS education organization Lifebeat felt alternately like a victory lap and a warm-up for his Barclays Center slot.
Taking the stage at NYC's Terminal 5 after a high-octane set from Macklemore & Ryan Lewis, Thicke opened his show with a not-so-secret weapon in order to take back the thunder from the boundlessly energetic Macklemore. It took just three seconds of "Blurred Lines" for the place to erupt in shrieks of ecstasy. After all, no matter how many times you've heard it, that bass line still works magic with every spin.
With a golden microphone and a three-piece suit, Thicke's stage presence exudes an old-school cool and class (well, at least until you start paying attention to some of the hyper-libidinous lyrics coming out of his mouth). But more than that, Thicke has an endearing on-stage confidence that ceaselessly works to convert those only familiar with "Blurred Lines" and his 2007 hit "Lost Without U." At one point—while referring to the long path from his 2002 debut to this year's chart-topper—Thicke divided the crowd into three categories: "Old fans, new fans and [those who are] not a fan yet."
That casual, likable bravado—not to mention his naturally immaculate voice—made his choice to close the concert with Al Green's "Let's Stay Together" seem like a natural fit, even though it's a risky choice for most vocalists (especially given the high bar President Obama set with that one).
When his set was over, Thicke's play-off music—Kanye West's "Clique"—kicked in on the sound system before he and his band had left the stage. Whether it was an impromptu choice or a pre-planned gag, Thicke strutted back out in front of the crowd and threw down the first few verses of the G.O.O.D. Music banger with surprising aplomb.
Does he have a future in rap? No. Mr. Thicke does not have a sick flow. But would we want him to join us for a night of hip hop karaoke? Hell yes. Check out Thicke's "Clique" below and catch him on this Sunday's VMAs.