“Can I Take You To The Mountaintop Tonight?”: Robin Thicke Live At The Highline Ballroom

by (@unclegrambo)

“There’s white people in the house, I must be blowin’ up or somethin’!”

Robin Thicke sounded genuinely surprised when he made this statement about halfway through his 19-song set at Manhattan’s Highline Ballroom last night. Arguably the most successful white R&B artist of the last decade, Thicke has earned himself the adoration of ladies of all races, creeds, and religions, many of whom showed up in their finest Friday wear to squeal and scream their enthusiasm for the 34-year-old crooner. Thicke’s new album, Love After War, hit streets this past Tuesday, and is another outstanding collection of brassy, high-energy jams and soulful, babymakin’ mood music.

After an errant fire alarm and persistent strobe lights delayed the start of last night’s show by a good 30 minutes, Thicke and his four-piece band belted out from backstage and shook the crowd out of their stupor by serving up the Stax style funk of “An Angel On Each Arm,” the lead track on his new LP. Thicke was wearing the same Aviators that he wore during his appearance on VH1’s Big Morning Buzz Live earlier this week, and posed a question to the largely female audience: “Can I take you to the mountaintop tonight?” Judging by the volume of shrieks and the way Thicke exploded into an ear-to-ear grin, the answer was a resounding “Yes, please.”

Thicke was in a playful mood for most of the evening, frequently stopping to touch hands of the female fans who had been holding their spots close to the stage for upwards of two hours before he came on, and soaking up the adoration of the crowd while omnipresent wind machines seductively ruffled the tight t-shirts he was wearing. His banter game was aces, too; he effortlessly bounced from charmingly praising the crowd in his patented Casanova way (“New York City is my favorite city in the world — besides Paris, of course”), humorously intro-ing his songs (“My ‘Dreamworld’ is a place where white people aren’t wack”), and even demanding his manager fetch him some Scotch by quoting lines from Anchorman. However, Thicke’s temper occasionally got the better of him, as he snapped at his drummer on a few occasions, but the legions of fawning females barely noticed.

Thicke’s set drew mostly from his new LP and The Evolution Of Robin Thicke, his 2006 album that showcased his transformation from a long-haired hippy dippy type into a stone cold P.I.M.P. In news that bodes very well for the sales of his new album, songs like “Love After War” and “Pretty Lil’ Heart” were met with equally enthusiastic response as his established classics like “Shooter,” “Dreamworld” and “Sex Therapy.” However, the biggest applause of the night was reserved for his 2006 smash and set-closing “Lost Without U,” the first (and only) song of his to hit #1 on the R&B charts. (CORRECTION: Robin Thicke himself tweeted at us to let us know that “Sex Therapy” went to #1, too. See below.)

It was also clear that Thicke has been paying attention to the recent exploits of Jay-Z and Kanye West on their Watch The Throne tour, as he not only performed the outro to their smash “Ni**as In Paris” (see video below), but also performed his 2009 banger “Shakin’ It 4 Daddy” back-to-back times; the crowd ate it up, but let’s hope that he doesn’t try to break Jay and Ye’s record of playing “Ni**as In Paris” eight times in one concert.

Robin Thicke is clearly an incredibly talented, insanely charismatic stage performer, with a voice that can transform mild-mannered, grown ass women into shrieking, boy-crazy teenagers. His set could use a little improvement when it comes to pacing, but as soon as he and his band complete their mindmeld and get on the same wavelength, it’s going to be a lights out show. Either way, women attending the Philadelphia, Chicago and Los Angeles dates of the Love After War six-city mini-tour are advised to bring an oxygen tank (and maybe even an extra pair of panties) with them to the show. Because, if last night’s show was any indication, Thicke is both willing and able to take his audiences to the mountaintop with him.

SETLIST: “An Angel On Each Arm” / “Magic” / “Wanna Love You Girl” / “Cocaine” / “Pretty Lil’ Heart” / “All Tied Up” / “Love After War” / (INTERMISSION) / “Ni**as In Paris” (Outro) / “Teach U A Lesson” / “Shooter/Everything’s Gonna Be Alright” / “I Need Love” / “Can U Believe” / “Dreamworld” / “The Sweetest Love” / “Sex Therapy”
ENCORE: / “Shakin’ It 4 Daddy” (2X) / “2 Luv Birds” (Snippet) / “Lost Without U”

UPDATE: Here is that aforementioned Robin Thicke tweet; our bad, homey!

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