Review: Fans embrace a sweaty, sexy Robin Thicke

The lawsuit filed by the estate of the late Marvin Gaye over the similarity between “Got to Give it Up” and Robin Thicke’s hit “Blurred Lines,” and his performance at the MTV Video Music Awards with Miley Cyrus, made him a punch line.

On the Congo Square Stage, though, Thicke worked in the punishing afternoon sun for a big crowd, many of whom clearly knew him before “Blurred Lines” and clearly loved him. He took advantage of an instrumental to shed his black vest, but his black shirt was sweat-soaked after 15 minutes onstage.

He played to the core audience that has known him from the old school-oriented Essence Music Festival. Covers of Al Green’s “Let’s Stay Together” and Michael Jackson’s “Rock With You” seemed obvious, but they were crowd-pleasers anyway.

Love and lust are inseparable in Thicke’s songs, and the whole set contextualized the sexual aggression in “Blurred Lines” — lines that wouldn’t raise an eyebrow if sung by Prince.

When he played the song, he went down into the crowd to sing it, surrounded by security.

Immediately afterward, Thicke left the stage with more than 30 minutes to go while his band members hung out and high-fived each other, then trickled off stage one by one. It was an odd ending to an otherwise entertaining show.

— Alex Rawls