tampabay.com

He plays to the crowd and it works

By DALIA WHEATT
Published May 7, 2007


At face value, you wonder what would posses women to stand for hours in uncomfortable shoes waiting to see a guy who's the spitting image of Alan Thicke. But 20 swoon-worthy songs later, you get your answer.

Robin Thicke - yes, his dad is the guy from Growing Pains - told Saturday's near-capacity crowd at Jannus Landing that the night would be "a celebration of love and hope. And Cinco de Mayo, y'all." And the blue-eyed soul It Boy delivered all of the above.

Thicke's opening act was a series of local DJs and R&B artists, whose varying degrees of talent left fans disgruntled; eventually they could be heard mumbling something about amateur night at the Apollo Theater. But 2 1/2 hours after the doors had opened, Thicke took to the stage and went straight for his ace in the hole - a seductive falsetto often mistaken for that of Justin Timberlake or soulful lady killer Maxwell.

Wearing a sweat-soaked black button-up shirt, black dress pants and white Adidas sneakers, the singer alternately sat behind an upright piano and danced around the stage for up-tempo numbers like When I Get You Alone and the Latin-flavored Everything I Can't Have. That is, if your definition of dancing comprises doing the running man and raising your arms a lot.

Still, Thicke had the estrogen-heavy crowd eating out of his hands, caressing the mike stand and prefacing ballads with remarks like "I wrote this song when I was in desperate need of some sexual healing." When Thicke's guitarist strummed the first few bars of the bossa nova-flavored uberhit Lost Without U, women hugged themselves, swayed and proceeded to purr every word.

Thicke didn't leave out the fellas, either. Throughout his 90-minute show, the crooner noted which songs worked best under which circumstances, providing the guys with a CliffsNotes version of how to score with women.

When in doubt, try a line like "Baby, you're the perfect shape. Baby, you're the perfect weight."

Works every time.