Robin Thicke at Reliant Stadium, 3/18/2014
Robin Thicke finishes strong. Down on his knees, on top of a piano, arms raised to the sky as fireworks go off, he looks like a champ. The crowd is roaring, as it comes down from the high of "Blurred Lines," and as he and his band take a last bow and he heads over to the pickup truck that will take him out of the arena, it's easy to feel as if his first RodeoHouston performance was a triumph. And if you judge the show just by its end, maybe it was.
Of course, there's the little matter of the rest of his set, which was hardly inspiring, and a strong ending does not make a show good. That's not to say that Thicke didn't try to put on a good show; he really looked like he was giving it his all out there.
Unfortunately, his all wasn't particularly memorable.
Now, not every rodeo performance needs motorcycle stunts or copious amounts of ass-shaking. There are many ways to approach a show, and different things work for different people. The issue here was not one of talent; no, the problem here was that Thicke approached this performance as just another show.
Because of this, the giant confines of Reliant Stadium just sort of swallowed him up whole. His moves and his calls to action may work in an arena where you're not separated by a whole bunch of dirt from the audience, but many times on Tuesday night it looked more like he was talking to himself.
That's a shame, because Thicke is clearly a high-energy performer, and in the right circumstance his show could totally feel like a retro-soul revival with people dancing in the aisles. It just didn't feel that way at the rodeo.
Technical issues didn't help matters. While on the whole things sounded OK, there were plenty of moments where a guitar was too low in the mix or a keyboard too high; we all know that synth bit in the hook to Michael Jackson's "Rock with You" is awesome, but the King of Pop would never let himself be outshined by a keyboard sound. That said, it was a pretty solid choice for a cover.
Review continues on the next page.