Editors' pick

Robin Thicke and Jennifer Hudson

Rhythm and Blues
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Editorial Review

David Malitz reviewed a December 2007 Robin Thicke performance for The Washington Post:

If ever there was a time for Robin Thicke to break out of his carefully crafted stage persona, Saturday was that night. Inclement weather and illness, respectively, kept opening acts Eric Benet and Terrence Howard from making it to Constitution Hall (at least according to the signs posted outside the venue), leaving Thicke as the only performer on the originally advertised "Sexy, Soulful" triple bill. No word on what kept everyone else away: The hall was maybe a third full when the R&B/soul upstart hit the stage.

This presented Thicke with the perfect opportunity to break from the constraints of his usual show and deliver a hot, steamy, almost intimate set that would leave fans telling all their friends how much they missed out. But it was just the status quo from the crooner, a mildly pleasing performance that proved his hit singles are no flukes, but that he's not yet a truly commanding presence on stage.

Perhaps it was asking too much of Thicke and his seven-piece band to make such an adjustment on short notice, but considering Washington was the city that helped launch Thicke to stardom -- a fact he acknowledged during the show -- one could still hope. The clear highlight was opener "Magic," one of the year's best songs, a silky-smooth '70s funk throwback built on a horn riff that lodges itself if your brain. "Lost Without You" was less funky but equally seductive, a bedroom ballad that Thicke pulled off convincingly. It was his too-frequent turns as sincere piano man that fell flat, particularly the sappy "Dreamworld." It wouldn't be fair to suggest Thicke was just going through the motions; it just seems the 31-year-old has crafted a formulaic but extremely successful onstage style and is incapable of shifting performance gears to suit the unique situation.

Thicke ended the 70-minute set with a reprise of "Magic," but there still wasn't enough of it to make it an especially noteworthy evening.