BEACHLAND BALLROOM, CLEVELAND
MAY 9, 2003
Daylight was still filtering through the windows and onto the tile-floored Beachland club last Friday night when Louisiana-born Marc Broussard took the stage. It didn’t take long, however, for Marc to command the attention of the still shuffling-in crowd by igniting a set full of southern influenced soul, rock and harmony. The crowd filled slowly, but Broussard didn’t seem to mind -- his set was energetic, soulful and dynamic, powerful enough that by the end of his nine-song set, the Beachland was packed and every single person there realized that this man was the real deal. Dressed in a light-blue shirt and a pair of old khakis, and playing only an acoustic guitar, Marc, along with bass player Calvin Turner, wasted no time in jumping into his first tune. Broussard’s voice sounds like he borrowed it from Stevie Wonder, and his songs feature such emotion that you have to wonder if his girlfriend breaks up with him before he takes the stage each night. His stage demeanor is reminiscent of another southern songwriter, Edwin McCain, and he sounded particularly like McCain on the ballad, “I Can Love You Better.”
Truly one has to experience Broussard to appreciate the sheer power of his voice, featuring the southern draw and grit of a Dave Matthews, with the soul of a Motown singer, all coming out of a five-foot-five white guy. Even more impressive are his songwriting skills, a dynamic blend of loneliness, longing and revelry. “Lonely Night in Georgia” sounds like it could have been written by Ray Charles, featuring Marc belting out at the end, “Lord, I’ve been gone so long.” “Just Like That,” the second track from his newest release Momentary Setback, was belted out with emotion and heartache. His cover of the old Tyron Davis tune, “Start All Over Again,” had the entire crowed entranced. Turner’s bass was nearly as entertaining as Broussard’s songs, playing more lead fills than holding down the bottom. Broussard talked between songs little, but when he did, he made references to alligators and turtles, and by the time Broussard ended his set with what he introduced as a “Southern Louisiana Groove,” the Beachland felt more like Mardi Gras than an east-side Cleveland nightclub. It was just too bad I used up all my beads at dinner (don’t ask).
Broussard returns to the Beachland Ballroom with his full band on June 28. This time, hopefully the capacity crowd that arrived in time for the end of the set will be there from the start. A fantastic songwriter and great stage performer, Marc Broussard is worth getting to the bar early, even if it is still daylight out.
~Joe Del Re