Robin Thicke at Wham Bam: our review
Fresh off a controversial performance at the VMAs, concertgoers were hoping for similar excitement at the Molson Ampitheatre.
By: Nick Krewen Music, Published on Sun Sep 01 2013
Robin Thicke didn’t click.
Fresh off a controversial performance with Miley Cyrus at the MTV Video Music Awards last weekend, one might have hoped some similar drama involving the son of Canadian actor Alan Thicke might have reared its head at 92.5 KISS-FM’s Wham Bam bash at the Molson Amphitheatre on Saturday night.
No such luck, which is a pity, because Thicke’s headlining set could have used it. Any jolt of excitement would have been welcome.
The dapper R&B crooner Thicke, who topped a bill that included youthful Canadian pop rocker Avril Lavigne and Nova Scotia rapper Classified among others, never seemed to connect with the majority of the 7,000 gathered for the Toronto radio station’s annual bash.
That’s right — an estimated 7,000 for a guy who’s topped the charts all summer with his provocative smash “Blurred Lines.” It seems that a No. 1 song no longer guarantees a sellout, but perhaps that’s the first miscalculation that the performer made: he played his smash out of the gate, and as soon as it was over, a stream of people started heading to the exits.
And forget about whatever debt people feel Thicke owes Marvin Gaye to the tune: late R&B pop singer Robert Palmer is probably rolling over in his grave with not only the similarities in style, but the fact that Thicke borrowed a visual tweak with his three female backing singers.
Virtually expressionless, the leggy model types decked out in hot leather pants pouted their way through a few numbers, including surrounding Thicke, dressed in a three-piece suit, for a short bump-and-grind for “Blurred Lines.”
Those were the only “blurred lines” of the evening for the concertgoer: determining whether Thicke was trying to play it sexy or initiate parody.
Behind the slick façade is obviously a man who has found his niche: the 36-year-old has a smooth voice that can glide effortlessly into falsetto at whim, and is enough of a disciplined musician who can command his equally tight four-piece band to take him where he needs to go.
But perhaps some streamlining is in order: for “Magic,” he was a blue-eyed soul doctor: for “Dreamworld,” he was tender balladeer falling dangerously close to lounge musician, sitting behind a baby grand piano tinkling the ivories.
By the time he sat behind the piano four or five songs into the set, rather than inspiring and re-energizing the crowd, he was sucking the life out of them.
Not all of them, of course: die-hard Thickies were having the time of their lives.
I’m willing to give Thicke the benefit of the doubt that it was an off night where he just never found his proper footing due to the shortened set and a mismatched flow of material, but his is an intimate sound probably better suited to smaller soft-seat venues.
The opposite could be said for Avril Lavigne: the diminutive vocal powerhouse easily fulfilled her straightforward agenda: get the house rocking and keep them there.
After her five-piece band kicked off her 45-minute set with an instrumental version of Queen’s “We Will Rock You,” the pride of Napanee launched into her recent hit “Here’s To Never Growing Up,” skipping across the stage and cajoling the crowd into waving their hands and singing along.
From then on it was a non-stop carousel of chart-topping hits for Lavigne, adorned in t-shirt/black skirt/torn stockings/wrestling boots attire: “Girlfriend,” “My Happy Ending,” “Rock N’ Roll” (sans bearshark). “Complicated” and “Sk8ter Boi.”
And there were some vigorous moments in her repertoire when Lavigne reminded you just how an impressive vocalist she actually can be, exhibiting a remarkable range and resolute intensity as she soared above the already amplified volume of her full-tilt band.
As for Luke “Classified” Boyd — as hip-hop shows tend to go — it was a stop ‘n start, hit n’ miss affair that proved the Nova Scotia rapper has what it takes to entertain large gatherings: 30-minute just isn’t enough time to do it properly.
At least in the cases of all three performers — Classified, Lavigne and Thicke — there was no twerking.
Thank heaven for small mercies.